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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with illustrator Emma Block, as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration

The beautiful collages of Emma Block have been wowing Amelia's Magazine readers since 2010, and since appearing in ACOFI she has embarked on numerous other exciting projects. Read on...

Written by Amelia Gregory

emma_block_carlotta_gherzi A/W 2011
Carlotta Gherzi A/W 2011 by Emma Block.

I’ve been working with Emma Block since 2010, when her beautiful work first started to appear in Amelia’s Magazine. Since graduating this summer she’s been a busy busy bee, which is not that surprising really because she’s one talented lady, as any of you who are familiar with her work will know. Find out what she’s been up to lately in my catch up interview and don’t forget to take a peek at my review of her new book Tea & Cake.

Lu Flux for ACOFI by Emma Block
Lu Flux for ACOFI by Emma Block.

What prompted you to start producing work for Amelia’s Magazine in the first place, and then submit to ACOFI and how has it helped you to develop your illustration?
I started working for Amelia’s Magazine in the summer between my second and third year, when I decided to focus on my illustration instead of getting a summer job. I had only submitted illustrations to a couple of articles when it was suggested I enter the open brief for the book. I never imagined that I would be picked. Working for Amelia’s Magazine gave me lots of practice at working to a tight deadline (an essential skill for an illustrator), as well as providing lots of pieces for my portfolio and exposure for my work.

lionheart  by Emma Block
Image for Lionheart Magazine by Emma Block.

You met lots of other featured artists at the ACOFI launch party back at the start of this year? Who have you collaborated since then and what you have you collaborated on?
I have been interviewed by and created a piece for (former music editor) Helen Martin’s exciting new venture, Lionheart Magazine, I am a part of the Edit Collective (initiated by ACOFI illustrator Faye West) and I have attended events held by Illustration Rally (a project by ACOFI illustrator Natsuki Otani) such as Paint it Make it Party for Japan. In the new year I will be participating in an illustration event at Emily Burt’s Shipshape Studio and my cards and prints will soon be stocked there too.

emma_block_elisa palamino
Elisa Palamino S/S 2012 by Emma Block.

LFW S/S 2012 by Emma Block
Illustration from LFW S/S 2012 by Emma Block.

You’ve been to two LFW this year with Amelia’s Magazine – what has been the highlight of these trips and what secret insights to the fashion world have surprised you, now that you’ve seen behind the scenes?
Aside from the shows themselves I love the whole atmosphere at London Fashion Week, the exhibitions are fantastic, especially Estethica and it’s always fun to do some celebrity spotting. I love the opportunity to have some fun with my wardrobe and wear a lot of statement hats (the secret to getting snapped by a street style photographer is wear a long swishy skirt and a big hat). I also love the goodie bags and the Mac makeovers. It surprises me was how many people bring dogs and small children to the shows!

Emma Block at work at her desk
You are multi-talented, not only do you illustrate but you are also comfortable behind a camera and your writing has been featured in the Guardian as well as on Amelia’s Magazine. How easy do you find it to do everything at once, and has it always come naturally or do you think that because you’ve kept a blog for so many years it has become easier with time?
I have always enjoyed writing and taking photos, but having a blog really helps develop both skills. Being able to write in an engaging way and take a decent photo really helps make a blog successful. While I really enjoy writing I am a terrible typist and I would be lost without my best friend Katie Byrne of The Young Creatives to proofread everything.

la-patisserie (new work for bright)
It’s been a very busy year for you, graduating and taking on an agent. How did you find an agent so soon after graduation, or how did they find you? Any tips to aspiring illustrators who really want an agent, and how has it altered the process in which you work?
My agents, The Bright Agency, actually found me about six months before I graduated. They saw my work in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration and online and invited me in for a meeting. Graduating uni and working freelance can be very scary, so knowing you’ve got a whole team of people trying find work for you and there to chat really helps. I would say if you’re looking for an agent find one that suits you. Think about the kind of work you want to be producing (children’s book, editorial, fashion etc.) and find an agent that does that kind of work. I think I work in the same way; I just need to keep other people in loop and be 100% open to suggestions and criticism.

Emma Block with book
You have your very own book out in time for Christmas – Tea & Cake – how did this happen, how long did it take to put together and who wrote it? (there’s no author apart from you!)
The publishers, Hardie Grant, contacted me after seeing my work online. It took a good few months to illustrate the book, and it was bit of a juggling act to complete my final major project at uni at the same time. The book is a written by a team of recipe writers, an editor, but it doesn’t have one author who wrote it start to finish. It was certainly a surprise that my name was the only one on the front cover!

chocolate-mint-whoopie-pies-Emma Block
Chocolate mint whoopie pies by Emma Block.

Did you have to test any of the recipes? Which one would you particularly recommend as a favourite?
I’ve made the Viennese biscuits, which were great fun to pipe into pretty shapes, and I had a go making some of the whoopie pies just before starting to illustrate it to get me inspired. I also hear from a friend that the millionaire’s shortbread recipe is amazing…

emma_block_Carlotta gherzi
Carlotta Gherzi S/S 2012 by Emma Block.

You have also had numerous commercial jobs, what has been the most exciting or interesting to work on to date?
Illustrating an entire book has definitely been my most exciting project so far. Tea and Cake was an absolute joy to work on: it was a lot of work (58 illustrations) but they trusted me artistically, which was a wonderful thing. It’s also be great to be able to talk about my work whilst promoting the book, and seeing it in a shop for the first time was amazing.

paris diary emma block
Aside from this what has been the highlight of 2011?
Going to Paris with my boyfriend. Graduating from my BA hons Illustration course with a first was a good moment too.

etsy stock emma block
Anything new and exciting in time for Christmas and what can we expect from you in the New Year?
I have just opened my Etsy shop and I have several Christmas cards in the shops this year. Hopefully next year will be full of more exciting projects and more wonderful people.

Buy Tea & Cake from Amazon here, but make sure you check in with my full review of Tea & Cake first! Emma Block is featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Buy both my books together with four rare back issues of Amelia’s Magazine (including the one with the bag illustrated above) for just £50. I can’t wait to see what Emma Block does next.

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