"My name is Emma Block and I am an illustrator living in London. I like to call myself a multidisciplinary illustrator because I work in lots of different fields, including editorial illustration, publishing, packaging, branding, licensing, live illustration and teaching workshops. My work is all hand-painted from my home studio in North London."
Emma wears new Pyjama Set & Print 'Storm Clouds' available to buy online.
Tell us how it all began, what or who inspired you to become an illustrator?
I've always loved drawing and had an cupboard packed with glitter and pom-poms as a child. I've always known I wanted a career in art, and when I was 16 I decided I wanted to be an illustrator. I did a national diploma in art and design instead of A-levels which was wonderful. Instead of doing coursework and sitting exams I was messing around with clay and making animations. I then went to university to study illustration, and I have been working full time as a Illustrator since I graduated six years ago.
What inspires your illustrations on a day to day basis?
Most of the work I do is commercial projects for clients, so the actual content of the illustration, the people the places, the things, will be dictated by the brief. I find I can put my personal take on things and share my inspirations through the colour palette and the way I use patterns in my work. I'm always looking out for beautiful colour palettes in every day life, whether it's in photos, tiles on the tube, a stranger's outfit. The other day in Lisbon I saw a pink house with laundry hanging out to dry in beautiful shades of pink, red and burnt sienna. Little things like that inspire me. When I create work just for myself it often involves stylish ladies and cute dogs!
You're currently writing and illustrating your first adult non-fiction book. Can you share any advice on working from home whilst pursing both writing and illustrating as a career?
I've always worked from home, it's just what's worked for me. I think when you're self-employed it's important to be very self aware and know how you work best. A lot of people really benefit from working in a designated studio space away from home with other creatives to talk to. Personally I find other people really distracting and I work much better on my own. The other thing is that due to my repetitive strain injury I dictate instead of typing, I think if I shared a studio space I would drive everyone mad dictating everything. I have to talk very slowly and clearly, a bit like a robot, but for me it is a great way of writing because it saves my hands and allows me to loosen up and write the way I speak. I dictated almost all 30000 words of my new book.
I think it's important to work somewhere you feel comfortable both physically and emotionally. I work in a corner of my home next to a big window with house plants and books around me and endless cups of tea. Again I think it's important to be self aware and know what kind of space you work best in. Some people love being in a cosy space filled with clutter and inspiring objects, whereas other people like minimalist super organised spaces. I'm somewhere in the middle, I try to keep my desk tidy, but sometimes pieces of artwork and sketchbook start to pile up around me.
What is it most that you enjoy about illustrating and which is your favourite piece?
I love inspiring people to live a more creative life through my Instagram, my workshops and my new book coming out next summer, (I've written a how to paint watercolour book). I also love that I get to sit down almost every day and draw and paint. Part of me still can't believe this is my real job. It's so hard to pick a favourite illustration! I really loved the wedding invites I designed for my own wedding. It was one of those occasions where they turned out exactly how I wanted them to.
At Yawn we use a range of materials from holly to string to create new marks for prints. If you were to run a print for Yawn what materials would you use to create the design and what would your inspiration be?
It would be a total dream to design a print for Yawn! I love your prints so much, particularly the slightly more abstract ones. I would probably use gouache and a paintbrush to create the artwork, and I would probably do something inspired by flower markets. I Love visiting Columbia Road Flower market on a Sunday and painting flowers sticking out of buckets with little price tags on them.
And lastly, How do you like to relax?
I try to take one day off a week with my husband who is a freelance jazz musician and mostly works evening and weekends. We usually go to an art gallery or explore a new neighbourhood of London. I also love watching art documentaries curled up on the sofa in my pyjamas with a blanket and a cup of tea. I'm really strict about always wearing proper clothes when I'm working from home, so changing into pyjamas is a nice way to switch off from work and unwind in the evening.
Stay up to date with Emma's latest designs and illustrations by visiting her website, Instagram, online shop or meet her in person at one of her wonderful workshops.