How do you describe what you do?
I launched Blond Eyed Girl in January last year and instantly loved the connection the brand gave me to stockists, buyers and other makers. I make satirical everyday objects that reflect my love of combining colours, words, things and materials. My range includes hand-made cards, enamel pin badges and collages. I trained as a sculptor and have recently explored ceramic techniques to translate my ideas into clay.
How did you get started in illustration?
I've always enjoyed making things. As a child I fostered my creativity using mud and water or papier-mâché. Art was always my strength and passion at school. I was destined to go to art school and graduated from a BA in Tapestry [Fine Art Textiles] at Edinburgh College of Art, then progressed to an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. There I continued my natural curiosity of materials and honed a distinctive, playful attitude.
What makes your work and/or process unique?
Blond Eyed Girl has a strong visual identity and irreverent attitude. I take an intuitive approach, so it is hard to isolate particular factors in my creative practice. However, I think, as a contemporary artist, with experience in arts marketing, I have combined typography, materials and making in a novel way. I certainly draw upon varied cultural references on a daily basis. I have experience of working within mental health inpatient care and, when you know this, there’s an understanding of the subconscious or surrealism evident in my pieces.
What would your top tip(s) be for anyone considering taking up art and design
On the outside, art and design seems easy and can be perceived as an easy academic ride. However, it can actually be a financial and emotional rollercoaster. That sounds dramatic, but it all depends on what your objectives are. Time IS money! Sacrificing the time spent to earn money to make art instead can be highly emotionally and financially rewarding, but it can also be very draining on both resources. So, paddle before you dive. The best piece of advice I was given during a tutorial with a now Turner Prize winner, is... ‘make the work you want to make and don't get distracted by what's fashionable or what anyone else is doing!’ Going against the grain can be really hard and brave. I'm still learning.
What piece of work or project are you most proud of?
I'm proud of my first enamel pin design as it was a venture into the un-known. It epitomised the values I feel strongly about and it became stocked by a leading London museum during a thought-provoking exhibition. It's now available elsewhere and is very rewarding to know that other people enjoy it as much as I do. I’m excited by my new ceramics in a similar way, as it’s a creative leap into the unknown. I’m keen to see what happens.
When you have the dreaded creative block, where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
Reengaging with things that you enjoy (whether arty or not) is key to reconnecting with your 'Element'*, as that's where your creative drive snoozes. For me, it's gardening or being on my allotment. Having worked full time in an office with no windows for 7 years, I gain a lot from being outdoors. I enjoy the structures of plants, shapes of foliage, splashes of colour and all the relationships in-between - not forgetting all the wildlife that butts in. I find nurturing something from seed to table is excellent 'Element' fodder that helps me reconnect with my creative self. *The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Ph.D.
What other artist or maker do you admire and why?
I recently saw the Jonathan Baldock ceramics show, Facecrime, at Camden Arts Centre and was completely memorised by it. Each piece explored a differing texture, such as a tear, a scrape, or a puncture, and the coloured clays and glazes were really striking. I could have stared at them for hours!
Any books or exhibitions and events coming up you can recommend?
I'm really keen to see the forthcoming Mark Titchner exhibition at Firstsite and the Olafur Eliasson show at Tate Modern. Both sound equally thought provoking. Plus, I've recently discovered Sam Lucas and hope to see his work at the British Ceramics Biennial this Autumn.
Why is Colchester Makerspace important to you/or and your work?
In general, it's really important that art and facilities are accessible and that there's space to socialise, discuss ideas and collaborate. Colchester Makerspace is a fantastic resource to learn new skills, meet new people and play with ideas - which has been my experience, as a Colchester newbie. I've really enjoyed the Pot Throwing and Kiln courses I've taken so far and I'm looking forward to building upon these on my Makerspace member journey!
Find Emma’s work for sale in Café Saison for the month of July
Online Shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BlondEyedGirl