Friday, 28 August 2015

Etsy shop find...a chat with Emma Block!

I'm talking to Emma Block in this months etsy shop find.
Emma is an illustrator from London and she creates the most beautiful artworks.
A self confessed lover of charity shops, tea, 1950's illustration and most importantly in her profession...very sharp pencils! 
Emma's work is inspired by the everyday; people she meets, old photos, vintage clothes and old films.
Following her successful flower alphabet, she's just created this fabulous 'Alphabet of Cake' print, an ode to the 'The Great British Bake Off' being back on our screens, yummy!

Emma currently has an offer running in her shop giving buyers 15% off orders over £25, by using code 'GBBO15'

So, this really is appropriate for this etsy interview...grab that cuppa, and a cheeky piece of cake (or two) and lets get to know Emma...

1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background... 

I have been pretty set on having a career in the arts since I finished my GCSEs. I did a BTEC in Art and Design instead of A levels, then went straight onto university where I gained a first in BA Illustration. 
I’ve never really had a proper job, when I left uni I worked in a biscuits factory for 7 hours and that was it. 
For me the key was to work professionally as an illustrator whilst still studying, and I started to sell my work when I was 17. 

2. Who is your design hero and how do you stay inspired?

There are so many illustrators and designer I love. 
Quentin Blake, Mary Blair, Miroslav Sasek and Maira Kalman are all design heroes of mine. 
I like to look for inspiration outside of illustration. I am inspired by travel, old films and vintage fashion amongst other things. 
After trawling through pinterest for too long, and seeing so many amazing illustrations, I feel a bit overwhelmed! 

3. Tell us about a typical day for you...

I work from a home studio. 
I start the day checking emails over tea and porridge and writing a to do list. 
I don’t normally feel very creative in the morning so I try to go to a pilates class and visit the Post Office then. 
After lunch with my boyfriend the proper work starts. This normally involves sitting at my desk for hours sketching, painting, editing on photoshop, replying to emails and updating social media. 
If I don’t have plans in the evening and I have lots to do I can work quite late, which I don’t mind because that’s when I feel most creative.

4. Can you give us an insight into your creative process?
I normally come up with an idea, and write down the gist of it in my notebook. 
I then usually do some research. 
My Floral Alphabet print took a lot of research, and I use pinterest to find reference images not google. 
For a project like my alphabet print it’s handy to store all the images on a pinterest board. After that I start sketching, sometimes in a sketch book but quite often on loose printer paper.  
I then use a light box to create the final painted illustration. I use a mixture of gouache, watercolour, coloured pencil and ink. 
normally take a few work in progress shots to post to instagram as I go along. 
I then scan it into photoshop and clean it up a bit.

5. What art do you have on your wall? 

A little bit of my work, a painting by my boyfriend, a painting by my grandpa, a portrait of me by Damien Flor├ębert Cuypers and a signed Maira Kalman poster.

6. I love so many of your artworks; 
the flower shop, my wardrobe, your new floral alphabet print... 
but what’s been your most popular item for sale in your etsy shop? 
And also, your personal favourite?

My most popular print is my Flower Shop print, 
which is a piece I did four years ago but people still love it. 
I really like my new Floral Alphabet print, 
it was really fun to work on and I just love flowers.

7. What's your guilty pleasure?

Eating slices of frozen banana with peanut butter on top and watching Junior Master Chef.

8. What makes you laugh?

My boyfriend and his band. We've all known each other since the beginning of uni and they always make me laugh.

9. Do you follow any blogs? Which are your favourites?

I love The Lovely Drawer, Design Sponge, Design Love Fest, What Olivia Did and Wish Wish Wish.

10. Why do you like being an illustrator/designer? (in 10 words or less)

I get to do what I love all day. 

11. What’s your favourite book from your childhood? And the last book you read?

The Tiger that Came to Tea was a favourite when I was little. 
The last book I read was As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee.

12. What are you working on currently? And any big plans for the coming year that you can share with us?

At the moment I’m working on some new stock for my shop, trying to get ready for Christmas. 
I’m currently loving teaching workshops with Quill, and I’m keen to teach more different types of workshops. 
I’m also working on a few book ideas and talking to publishers. 
My first major children’s book (written by Anne Michaels, published by Bloomsbury) is coming out in November which is very exciting. 

Thanks so much to Emma for taking some time out to share a bit of her world with us!
You can follow Emma here...

(all images copyright of Emma Block)

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