Monday, 14 October 2019

Welcome to the Plum Family, Emily Emerson!

We had a chat with our brilliant new Plum Emily Emerson, about her life as an illustrator. Take a look here!

Where do you live/work?
I live in Kansas and work from my home studio! Kansas is sunny and beautiful with big sunflower fields!

What do you like about working there?
I love being able to wake up and be right in my studio, making healthy meals in my kitchen and listening to my pug snoring on the couch! I also love getting out and walking around the neighborhood whenever I need a break.  There is a magical, tiny green park with a small brook running through it nearby. Being in nature makes me feel instantly calm and happy.

Emily and her pug Meena!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
Using illustration to create my own magical worlds and tell stories brings me just as much joy now as it did when I was a child. I’ve always loved fantastic stories. As a child, I would read books about Egyptian mythology and folk tales from around the world.

How do you work – what are your techniques?
I sketch everything by hand in my sketchbook. I love to sit outside and sketch on a nice day, early in the morning. Then I take it to the computer and finish the piece in Photoshop.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Animals! I had many different types of pets growing up. Apart from the usual dog and cat, we had lizards, frogs, gerbils, and multiple aquariums (which housed wild creatures like starfish, serpent starfish, and sea urchins). I loved them all. Going to the zoo was always a huge treat! I love the diversity of textures, sizes, shapes, and personalities of all the animals. As a child, I wanted to be friends with all of them.

Emily's Animals!

Under the Sea

Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
I love drawing my pug. I often draw her going on fun adventures (riding in the Tour de France, or traveling the world) on birthday cards I make for my friends.

What or who are you most inspired by?
The flowers, birds, and butterflies I see in my garden. Also, vintage children’s books, Tove Jansson, Studio Ghibli, folklore, fairy tales, and other illustrators! I have a collection of children’s books and some of my favorites are Kaya Doi's Chirri & Chirra, the Provensen's Funny Bunny and Simona Mulazzani's The Big Book of Slumber.

Do you have a favourite illustrator?
There are so many! The classics like Mary Blair and Alice & Martin Provensen. I love Alison Jay – I want to live in one of her paintings. Hsinping Pan - such a unique creative voice. Her whimsical characters always make me smile. Simona Mulazzani and Isabelle Arsenault always have me in awe.

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I’ve recently gotten into gardening with my partner. We planted a Monarch Waystation last Spring and get so excited when Monarch butterflies stop by and lay eggs on our milkweed. I also spend a lot of time with my pug, Meena. She’s 12 and I love her so much. She sleeps in my bed and snores all night, which I love.

Meena in a Monarch caterpillar Halloween costume made by Emily!
How did you get into illustration?
I’ve always loved drawing and decided when I was small that I was going to be an artist when I grew up. I was always drawing as a child and having art contests with my friends. As I grew, I slowly became aware of illustration as a career and did my best to learn all I could about it. Illustration is what I love to do and I’ve never entertained the idea of doing anything else!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1 - Listen to yourself. Make sure what you are creating feels right to you, don’t be swayed from yourself by other people’s work. Listen to your own unique creative voice and do what brings you joy. I was much happier once I took that advice. 
2 - Take breaks if you feel you’re getting worn out. Self-care is important for creativity.
3 - Beware of distractions – your phone and the internet are fun and a wonderful source of inspiration, but they can also distract you from doing your work!

What were your favourite books when you were younger?
There are a lot. I immersed myself in very detailed worlds like Animalia and I Spy books. I also loved thoughtful stories like The Velveteen Rabbit. Lots of Shel Silverstein. Of course, Harry Potter – I remember my teacher reading the first book to our class when it was still unknown in the US. She just happened upon it in a bookstore. She would read it to us for the last 20 minutes of each school day and we would all sit with rapt attention! I remember when it exploded with popularity right after that.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 
I actually just re-read the entire Harry Potter series. I love them - what an adventure! Over the years, you forget little details so it was fun to read them again.

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year?
To keep expanding my portfolio and drawing subjects I don’t normally draw. I would like to work on an idea for a picture book as both author and illustrator. We’ll see what happens! That’s probably more of a ‘next year’ goal though.
This year, I am going to attend my first ever local Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference!

What’s your ultimate dream?
That children will read my books and remember them fondly when they are older like I do with my books. Seeing my friend's children recognize and enjoy my work is the best compliment ever!

Welcome to the family, Emily!



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