Featured Artist: Emma Leonard

FK chats to lovely Melbourne illustrator Emma Leonard, who recently debuted at our Melbourne Finders Keepers.

How would you describe your style of work?
I would describe my illustrations as being soft and feminine, and both controlled and spontaneous at the same time, often capturing a sense of fluidity and movement.

What is your background and when did you start illustrating?
I have always loved to draw but kind of left it on the back burner for a long time until about twelve months ago. I was working full time in retail for a several years but found that I became really dissatisfied with doing the same thing everyday, so I took the plunge and quit my job then spent the next few months to really figure out what I really wanted out of life. I drew almost everyday and quickly realised something I had always known, that illustration was the job for me! Now I juggle studying illustration full time with freelance illustration jobs and running my own business selling prints of my work. I’m always busy and don’t get to sleep much but the sense of satisfaction I get from it all definitely makes it feel worthwhile.

Who or what inspires your work?
So many things! Other forms of art and design, including typography, textile designs, interiors, found objects and museums, but most of all other illustrators. Some of my favourites at the moment are French graffiti artist Miss Van, Finnish fashion illustrator Laura Laine, and American painter Audrey Kawasaki. It’s probably no surprise that they all illustrate women!

What do you find most inspirational about Melbourne?
I love Melbourne because you don’t have to go far to find like-minded, creative people. And there is so much talent in this city that you could never get too big for your boots, because there is always someone else whose work is so amazing that you can’t help but be jealous!

Describe your workspace and your creative process.
My workspace can be a little chaotic at times as I work from home. I usually start out by coming up with a concept or idea and doing some small thumbnail sketches to work up into a line drawing which is transferred down onto illustration board. My line work is usually in pencil or ink then.

What advice would you give other artists/illustrators starting out?
Create your own opportunities to get your name out there. And don’t be afraid to approach the people and companies that you would love to work with, the worst thing that can happen is that they will say ‘no’, but they might love your work or be able to offer you some valuable advice. And always keep a sketchbook near by, inspiration can come at any time…

What has been your favourite project or exhibition and why?
The past twelve months have been full of exciting projects that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one, but a highlight would have to be taking part in my first group exhibition, Ladies First, and seeing my work beside so many other talented female illustrators including Courtney Brims, Caitlin Shearer and Jo Dyer.

What did being part of the first FK Melbourne market mean for you?
It has been a big thrill to be apart of the first Melbourne event. All the people that stopped by my stall were excited to be there and were overwhelmed by the talent on show. It was also very validating to have so many people say such kind, positive things about my work.



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