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Interview; Emma Block

For January’s “Crafternoon Tea” boxes I teamed up with the fabulous Emma from Emma Block Illustration who created the most beautiful illustration as an exclusive to SewHayleyJane subscribers. The print features three lovely ladies surround by tea, cake and sewing – my three favourite things! I interviewed Emma to find out a bit more about her.

Thank you so much for creating such a gorgeous print for SHJ subscribers. Can you tell us a bit about your process for creating custom illustrations?

I start by discussing the project with the client and asking them if they have any reference photos or any pieces of my work that they particularly like. I then do a pencil sketch which I scan into my computer and send to the client. If there’s any changes that need to be made to the design it’s easy to do it at sketch stage. If the sketch gets approved I start on the artwork. I follow my initial sketch very closely and create my artwork using a mixture of gouache, watercolour and coloured pencils. I then scan the finished artwork into my computer and clean up on photoshop if it needs it.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day varies for me. I’m not much of a morning person so I usually get up quite late, then do a few hours of emails, admin and social media, and sometimes a gym class before lunch. After lunch I focus on more creative work, sketching, painting or editing my work on photoshop. I love to listen to podcasts when I’m painting or sketching. I work from home, but I’m strict about always finishing work at 6pm, unless I’m teaching a workshop.

You’ve recently released your own book, a guide to painting with watercolours, and have illustrated a number of other books. Can you tell us about some of the projects you have worked on in the past?

Writing the Joy of Watercolour has been one of my favourite projects to work on, and something I’m so proud of.  One of my favourite projects I worked on is the book Life Lessons I Learned from my Dog. I am very much a dog person so it was a lovely project to work on. Also I’m very lucky that I get to bring my personal experiences to so many of my projects. In this book I got to include illustrations of my family dog and my grandfather, and dedicate the book to my dad.

Any exciting upcoming projects you are working on at the moment?

I’ve been really busy this year writing a new book. Unfortunately I can’t officially announce it until springtime 2020, but I can’t wait to share it with everyone. It’s a book that a lot of people have been asking me to write, so I really hope people like it!

How did you get into illustration?

I’ve always loved drawing and making things from a young age. I started putting my drawings on a blog when I was 16, and by the time I was 17 I was selling my work on Etsy and was licensing my designs to greetings card companies. I studied illustration at university and worked professionally on the side, and I’ve been working full time as an illustrator since I graduated eight years ago.