London today, Paris tomorrow...

27.7.16

Illustrated with love

✈︎ London



Life in watercolour

I've always wanted to create beautiful fashion illustrations to rival the likes of Kerrie and Megan Hess, but figured somewhere along the way that I simply wasn't cut out for it. Especially when it comes to creating likenesses of real people, trying to do them justice seems like an impossible task that walks the fine line between being appreciative and being offensive. I doodle for fun mostly, and I've generally stayed away from portraits for fear I could never get them right. I still don't for the most part, and I end up with a dozen rejects before I'm finally happy with something, and I've got a long way to go...I won't be making a career out of watercolour illustrations anytime soon, but I'd like to think these offer a more personal thanks to some awesome internet ladies who've guided my artistic journey in some way or another.

Shini from Park & Cube

When I first discovered the ever-expanding world of blogging many years ago, Park & Cube was among the first in my reading list. From its sleek design and photography to the funny, relatable and eloquent stories that accompanied, it became a source of inspiration that I frequented throughout the years. When I realised that I wanted to pursue a creative, design-led career, Shini's blog and work took on a greater relevance that helped give me a sense of direction. Life works in funny ways, and it was actually one of Shini's tweets that connected me with The Apārtment whom I worked with on various projects in the last year. Then last Fashion Week I finally had the opportunity to meet Shini properly and talk about graphic design and the industry in general (over food, naturally). She really is a powerhouse who has built an incredibly successful brand with her life, style and interests, and I don't think any other blog is on par with the web design and coding prowess. Don't even get me started on her Snapchat stories...*insert crying with laughter emoji here*

Audrey from Frassy

Another blogger that throws me way back in time, Audrey's way with words is something else. Every outfit and adventure comes with a beautifully written story that encourages you to be smarter and think deeper. She tackles issues old and new in such a refreshing manner, I can't help but agree with everything she says. It's odd, but I find myself nodding completely in every blog post and at every Instagram caption, something I don't expect to be able to do with 99% of the people I follow. I guess, long story short, she feels like a friend I've known for a very long time, someone I could sit in a coffee shop with for hours and just talk about life. And how many people can you say that about in reality, let alone someone you only know about through the internet? Her wisdom and wit are a real backbone to many and I'm sure she has so much more to share.

Carin from Paris in Four Months

This one goes without saying, as I'm sure you can all gather why; although my love for Paris extends much further back into my memory, Carin's stunning photos of the city cemented it all the more. She is probably the single most accurate definition of "following the dream" and simply that sense of hope and wonder she instills with her Paris story is enough to make anyone want to move there and pursue their heart's desires. I shared her Instagram account in this post and I'm still a devoted follower today, because who doesn't want their feed filled with cute cafés, stunning balconies and Seine snaps? Not that that's all she photographs, of course, because her adventures there are so much more. She's incredibly talented at what she does and her work with many amazing brands is a testament to that.

Inspiration → illustration

I hope to continue this series and share more watercolour illustrations of people who inspire me, from both blogs and Instagram. They're not the best but they're a nice change from standard photos, right? I promise to improve them and keep on sharing the love. Side note, I'm off to Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong in a few days, so expect to read about all my travels soon; if you have any recommendations, do leave them below, tweet them to me or drop your suggestions on my Instagram where I'll be posting plenty of pictures from my travels...consider it a sneak peek of all the posts to come here. I may be offline for a brief moment due to internet censorship in China, but I'll be back soon with lots to share. As always, have a lovely week and thank you for reading - it means a lot!

19.7.16

Let's paint the town

✈︎ London



Art Night 2016

Some Saturdays are for adventure, as was this particular one two weeks ago; Art Night came to London for the first time. The concept is simple: an annual event that transforms the capital into a creative metropolis as the sun goes down. Following the very impromptu proposal to check it out by one of my very artsy friends, we took to the ICA to pick up a map and wandered along the trail of buildings and spaces that had been taken over for one night in spectacular fashion. 


We arrived at the Duke of York steps for around half seven, enjoying the "collage" of orchestra, contemporary/ballroom dancing, meandering rabbits wearing multiple face masks and male models clothed in what can only be called, "scraps" of denim. It was a weird but oddly interesting mélange of cultures and styles, inspired by Alison and Peter Smithson's House of the Future and the 1970s film Donkey Skin.

Having decided to go to this one-night-only extravaganza at the last minute, naturally we hadn't thought to book anything, so unfortunately we had to skip out on a fair few exhibitions (including one on a disused Jubilee Line platform at Charing Cross station!). That didn't stop us from following the map down Strand and turning up in Covent Garden, where we got to take part in a film project by Jennifer West. The public were invited to add their memories to rolls of 70mm film showcasing everyone's favourite movies and what made them so unforgettable. I doodled about Up, obviously taking advantage of the multitude of permanent markers at my disposal for the balloons, and left feeling satisfied that I'd somewhat contributed to the wider art world - even if only for a brief moment. With that sentiment, we dispelled our aching hunger with the conveniently close-by Shake Shack and proceeded to stroll towards Somerset House as the sky grew ever darker. 


Nightfall was the perfect backdrop for Xu Zhen's Physique of Consciousness, a video exemplifying China's emphasis - sometimes obsession - with mass exercise, health and spiritual wellbeing. It was pretty awe-inspiring watching dozens of Art Night volunteers and public participants follow Zhen's choreographed routine; stretching, prostrating and posing whilst an ambient track of single piano notes and gentle wind hummed softly in the background. If there was one word I would use to describe it perfectly, that would be "zen".


Although we weren't able to stay until the early hours as programme would advise (namely, an apt slogan of "DON'T SLEEP!"), it was such a unique experience to essentially go on an Easter Egg hunt around the city that we knew wouldn't be there tomorrow. Not only that, but the atmosphere of a cool summer evening made it all the more affecting and evocative.

And, of course, one doesn't just visit London at night without walking across Waterloo Bridge for the most incredible view. Nothing really beats an illuminated skyline.

25.6.16

Emma's Sketchbook: Apart and/or Together

✈︎ London



Arrivals

In light of the EU referendum and subsequent victory of the #Brexit campaign (the portmanteau 'Brexit' alone makes me cringe internally), I thought this project would be a particularly relevant one to share: the title itself can be applied to our current context in many ways, as can a lot of the ideas and themes I mentioned on my initial mind map.

The EU debate was something I never paid much attention to because I - perhaps naïvely - assumed that regardless of all the drama and confusion, we would stay. Most of you reading probably never lived in a time where the UK wasn't a part of the European Union, and for me it's all I've ever known. Change scares me, as does the prospect of being separated from a group of countries that need to stand united now more than ever in the wake of devastating worldwide events. War, terrorism, hatred, discrimination; they all sadly continue to exist in modern society and we need all the support we can get to fight them and win. In spite of all this, I bear no ill will towards those who backed the Leave campaign, because ultimately we are a democracy and they have the right to make their choice. We all have our reasons, and my only hope is that whatever happens, we try and move forward as a nation - the last thing anyone wants is World War III or something of the like as a result of this decision.

Speaking of the decision, since it's been made, here's to hope; the future is uncertain, but so long as we respect each other and compromise, it doesn't have to be a dramatic 'disaster' or 'downfall' as the headlines make it out to be.

Enough rambling...I'm better at talking art than I am politics. On with the project!

Field Trip

Out of all the projects I've done, 'Apart and/or Together' must've been my favourite; here I was handed the reins and therefore took some creative liberties with the direction and execution of my work.

Having settled on the specific concept of airports under the giant umbrella of 'Apart and/or Together', I made a visit to Heathrow Terminal 5 to take some photos in both the Arrivals and Departures areas as some of you may remember from this post. I decided to go there in the evening because of how drastically different the atmosphere would be; it was quiet and nostalgic, with the soft, warm lights of the terminal giving it an inviting ambience. Everyone seemed tired yet happy as a long day drew to a close; shifts ending, loved ones returning, adventures beginning.

Geoffrey Johnson

Having discovered his work while flipping through a book of artists for inspiration, I was quickly drawn to the way Johnson created his city environments: buildings blocked out with watery paint and shadow-like figures dotted about in black ink, their silhouettes running down towards the foot of the bottom of the piece like dripping water. This blurred, rainy effect was really interesting, especially as it made the faceless people seem all the more distant, anonymous, solitary.

Playground

A particularly memorable moment of that night in the airport was seeing a group of young children run through the empty check-in area, delighted at essentially having this entire floor of the building to themselves. Even the few lingering staff found it amusing as they raced past each zone and hid behind signs and counters. To them, this place was no more than a giant playground.

Emiliano Ponzi

My next artist of influence was illustrator Emiliano Ponzi who specialises in bold, graphical portrayals of particular concepts or situations that often have a satirical spin on them. Drawings that seem simple enough at first can be picked apart into multiple different meanings and interpretations - less is definitely more in Ponzi's case, and I found his artistic style incredible effective at conveying a message in an eye-catching way that stays in your mind long after you've first seen the image.

Development

As I progressed towards my final idea, I recreated some of my initial images in styles inspired by the artists I'd looked at; from an indistinct watercolour painting, to a collage with acrylic paint, to a straight acrylic painting. I then copied a particularly relevant work of Ponzi's using permanent marker and acrylic paint to test out the more graphical style even further.


Finally I did a mini trial version of my final piece idea, using collage and acrylic paint as I would on the actual canvas. Liking how it looked, I made my decision, and the only thing left to do was recreate it on a larger scale. The resultant canvas? You may remember it from this post...

That's about it for Apart and/or Together; it's a project I still look back on fondly and I wouldn't have changed a thing. It was really nice to invest myself in something I truly enjoyed and explore an idea fully until it came to fruition, and I hope I'll be able to continue doing that in the future. Have the loveliest of weekends my friends, and whether the UK leaving the EU affects you directly or not (I know I have a few readers from other corners of the world, so I hope my long intro didn't bore you!), let's all hope for peace - military, social and political - one day.
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