Emma Morgan is an artist based on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, who specialises in pen and ink drawings of animals.
She completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Monash University in 2012, and has also studied Interior Design at RMIT University. Emma currently works as a freelance illustrator, artist, stylist and a print maker for bespoke homewares brand, Lumiere Art + Co.
Carrie: When did you discover your love of art?
Emma: I can’t remember a time not loving art to be honest! I have always drawn and painted.
Carrie: Can you describe the evolution of your artistic style? (Have you always made art with this unique vision or what was your turning point into recognizing this style was your authentic “you”?)
Emma: No definitely not but I think it’s normal to let your ‘style’ evolve over time as you persist with it, and learn about yourself and your limits as an artist. I sort of floated between painting and drawing for a while, but found over time that drawing was actually more satisfying for me as I (eventually) found my own rather unique approach to it after studying it more in depth.
As for my practice now, it really developed once I finished University and realised that there was a bit of a gap in the market for contemporary animal artworks – and animals are a subject that I never, ever got tired of. The work I make now feels very natural to me.
Carrie: How would you describe the art you create?
Emma: I basically make pen drawings. Haha! They’re rather large, A2-A1 size. The aesthetic is almost etching like, I suppose – I use lots of tiny little lines to achieve depth and texture. I also include small amounts of colour with either acrylic paint or watercolour.
As for the subject matter, I definitely create some characters. I think my animals are always pretty sweet and gentle though. It was important to me to make sure that I represent the creature I’m drawing in respectful way. I spend a lot of time really making my compositions original.
I like to go and photograph the animal myself if I can, too. But I love all animals, so I think there is always an obvious level of adoration in the way that I try to capture them. I want people to care about them as much as I do.
Carrie: Describe your habits or rituals around “making.”
Emma: I like to be in a ‘zone’, which is kind of like working in white heat… ha. I like to do things in one go. I’m not usually one to labour over drawings too long. I definitely make my best work alone, in the middle of the night with my headphones on.
Carrie: How do you know when an artwork is finished?
Emma: I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this because there are many different ways to approach ‘finishing’ an artwork, it could be dependent on medium, or it could be specific to a concept – I mean, art is really about having a conversation with your audience.
So, I think it’s best to keep working on your piece until it’s talking to you (figuratively, of course). You’ll know when it’s found its voice, it’ll be obvious – and then you know that it’ll be ready to talk to other people, too.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Emma: Sometimes it looks like a zoo haha! I can be so messy. But most of the time it’s full of plants that I’m trying not to overwater. I’m in a shared studio space with a silversmith and a glass artist – it’s nice to work alongside others, and have very different minds to run ideas or thoughts off.
Our studio is situated inside a converted warehouse café (called ‘Commonfolk’) which is pretty cool/unique – it gives the cafe patrons an opportunity to watch us work too, and purchase/communicate directly with the artist. We all really value the process of working by hand. I really enjoy being in there!
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
Emma: I’ve actually found being a young artist to work for me as much as it can work against me – learning how to play that was initially a challenge for me. But after trial and error, I always say to younger artists starting out now, how important it is to network and find people who are also creatives like you.
Becoming a part of, or building a little artistic community is so worthwhile – the support helps you all to keep moving forward
Carrie: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your “beginner” artist self?
Emma: To stop doubting myself, it’s so easy to think it’s too hard to be an artist (or anything, for that matter). But if you want to do it enough, anything is possible.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Emma: Staying in touch with some of my lecturers has been a good move for me – their knowledge and experience is incredibly valuable. They won’t gush over my work, which is often refreshing.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Emma: I love music a lot, and grew up learning to play lots of instruments. I love that it can make me feel things. Those feelings then often inspire artwork. I’m a big traveller too, I can’t tell you how many times mother earth has blown my mind with her landscapes.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Emma: I’m not sure, creativity is a lot of things – but I definitely do think that there is something incredibly beautiful about the fact that everybody has their own personal and unique approach to it.
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