Art Chat With Emma Leonard

This article was first published by Onya Magazine on 22nd February 2013.



Art Chat With Illustrator Emma Leonard

2013 has already proved to be a promising year for illustrator Emma Leonard. She chats to Brittany Stewart about sad girls, design markets and top-secret projects.

Brittany: Your drawings are predominantly of girls– what is it about them that you love to draw so much? 

Emma: I get asked this question a lot, and I still don’t really know the answer. For some reason that is beyond me, I just feel overwhelmingly compelled to draw girls with doll like faces and sad eyes.

Do you draw your inspiration from people you know or see?

Sometimes! I take inspiration from everywhere, but especially exhibitions, films, and museums. I love museums.

You’ve done quite a few design markets – do you find they are a good way to share your work and interact with the people who are actually buying your art? 

I think design markets are really valuable tools in getting your name out there and exposing your work to people that would otherwise never see it. They have played a pretty critical role in any success I have had. It always feels good to hear nice things about your work or see someone get really excited by one of my illustrations too, and it’s a great way to see what work people do/don’t respond to. However, I try not to let this information influence what I make (even though I probably should). In my experience, the few times I have made a piece that I think people will really like or want to buy, it has never been successful and often I don’t even like the result. Now I just stick to making what inspires or excites me and not worry if other people will like it.

Talk us through a day in the life of Emma Leonard in the studio. 

I begin my day early and start with looking at my favorite blogs for inspiration while I wake up, before getting to my inbox and replying to emails (which is something I always struggle to stay on top of). Most days I will then try to update either my website, blog, Facebook or Instagram with new work or even some work in progress snaps. Emailing and social networking can take a big chunk of my morning, so it sometimes takes a while before I even pick up a pencil. Depending on what I am working on, for the bulk of the day I will either be looking for reference, sketching, creating final artwork or putting everything together in Photoshop. Sometimes I might also have calls or meetings with clients. In the afternoon I package orders from my etsy store and get to the post office before they close, then get back to the studio for my work. On a good day I will finish at about 5 or 6 but if I’m really busy or have a big deadline, I might work later. I try to always finish before 12 as my work turns to rubbish after midnight!

What is your preferred medium to work with? 

A combination of pencil, watercolour and photoshop.

How long does a project normally take? 

Anywhere from a couple of days to a few months, but most projects take two to three weeks form start to finish.

Have you got any exciting projects you’re working on at the moment? 

This year has actually started off with a bit of a bang and I am working on several really fun projects at the moment. I’m doing cover illustrations for a series of young adult fiction books, more horoscope and editorial illustrations for Madison Magazine, some covers for a series of city guides and several pieces to go in group exhibitions over the next few months. I am just about to start a super exciting job for an international cosmetics brand that I can’t really talk about yet!

Exciting news! Is there anyone you would love the chance to draw/illustrate for? 

A museum.

Are there other artists/illustrators that you particularly admire? 

So many! Beci Orpin, Bec Winnel, Audrey Kawasaki, Laura Laine, Kat Macleod, Kelly Smith, Kelly Thompson and Abbie McCulloch to name just a few…

Do you have a golden piece of advice for budding illustrators out there? 

Be flexible, only put work in your folio that you actually want to make again, and create as much personal work as you can – it will usually be your best!

Can we expect an exhibition anytime soon? 

Yes. If everything goes to plan, I will be holding my first solo show in September, which is very scary but also very exciting.

Where can we buy your work from?

All my work is available from my etsy store: 

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