So after my return from Japan I got to meet the lovely crew at Remix........
Every day the team at REMIX gets their morning caffeine fix from Santos, the coffee shop across the road from our office. As well as having great coffee, Santos has an ever-changing wall featuring artwork by Kiwi artists. The most recent collection of work, a series of illustrations by freelance artist EMA FROST, caught our eye with their bold colours and beautiful detailing. STEVEN FERNANDEZ grabbed Ema's details from the barista and phoned her up for a quick chat.
So Ema, sitting here in Santos and admiring your art on the wall, I must say I love your work. Did you approach Santos to display your work, or did they come to you? How does that kind of thing happen and do you have your work in other cafes or is this something new for you? Well actually, I remember seeing an artist that I really liked ages ago, before I even started drawing and I just remember the name Santos. Then is wasn't until a friend of mine exhibited there and I asked to him how he organised it and he just told me to get in touch with them. The owner Anne is really nice and basically that's what I did, I got a hold of her and she liked my work and she was cool for me to put it up!
As a freelance artist and illustrator how do you make most of your income? Is it the hard slog that people perceive it to be as an artist? Is it completely a labour of love or do you have another job on the side? I do other work on the side, but I think I'm lucky with the style of my work; it's quite commercial looking so it's more appealing to get other work. So it is really because I love doing it. It's hard to do a commercial project if you're not really on the same page as the client. I've now worked on some projects and they know what my style is like, so I've been able to just get on with it and they kind of expect that as they know what my style looks like.
Tell us about the inspiration and influences behind your work. I'm really inspired by Japanese art and I have just come back from spending a month in Japan. I really like the New Zealand history side of things so it's like an interwoven mix of Maori legends and the Japanese styles. I've kind of created an enchanted world, of what I see in my mind with my characters. I'm working on a children's book so I have written that and now I'm illustrating it. And I'd love for that to be made into an animated film.
What artists inspire you? You know what, I try not to look at anyone locally, because I don't want to be too influenced and then accidentally use their styles. I just try to do my own thing because I want my work to always be unique and I don't want people comparing it to other artists' work who may have influenced what I'm doing subconsciously, you know?
What about overseas? My favorite Japanese artist is Takashi Murakami, what do you think of him? I love his stuff! Ideally I'd love to be someone like that, because I love merchandising and he does that sort of work so well.
Yeah he did a Kanye West album cover I think. He's done heaps, he also did some Louis Vutton designs. He's incredible and has partnered up with hug companies. And he's done those huge sort of sculptural pieces made of chrome that look like bubbles.
I saw him in the MoMA in New York! He's everywhere now! The snowball effect of working on one of those projects like an album cover leading to all those amazing opportunities... That's what I need; I want work like that!
What other sort of things do you have on your creative bucket list? I want to work with big companies, I don't know who exactly but people that give me access to big projects. I'll continue to do more children's books, but the problem is I'm just interested in everything... So that's quite a tricky question, because there are just so many things I want to do. With me visiting Japan I realised I do want to get back into the sculptural sort of stuff again next year but that takes so long because it's so unpredictable working with ceramics and it's so hard and it's such a long process. You come across so many problems but then I guess that's the whole process; you always work out and solve what the problems are and that's what I love the most. It's like constant problem solving. How am I going to make this work? There has to be a way. I have gone to the people I know and they are like no you can't do that and you can't do it like that but I know there will be a way some how! I'm always up for a challenge and finding a solution to things I've been told I can't do.
What is the process that goes into producing one of these illustrations? It actually takes quite a lot as I can't just churn them out willy nilly because I do have quite a lot of thought behind each piece so there is a lot going on. I find it hard to articulate in words so I guess that's where I try and show it, in the imagery.
You can find this article on page 76 in the latest Remix Magazine alongside a whole lot of other goodness!!
Hope you enjoyed!
E Frost xx