Freelance Illustrator Emma Russell

Emma Russell is a freelance illustrator based in London, ‘I make line drawings, with simplified, angular blocks of strong, slightly muted colour. My drawing style is realistic and minimal with some fantastical elements… oh and quite a lot of animals!’

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‘I make line drawings, with simplified, angular blocks of strong, slightly muted colour. My drawing style is realistic and minimal with some fantastical elements… oh and quite a lot of animals! Although many of my drawings end up digitised, everything starts out on paper. My sketchbook is really important for thinking and drawing reference material. I draw in pencil, then I trace onto translucent paper using a fine liner. To colour the image I either use a paper collage behind the drawing or scan it and make a collage of digital colour. I use the translucent paper because it mutes the colours of the collage a little and when working digitally I use a semi opaque layer for a similar effect. When I’m not drawing, I make 3D work – tiny sculptures constructed from hand cut cartridge paper. I’ve enjoyed using paper for making since I was a child and it still makes me very happy.

It’s fun experimenting with different media and tools, but I always come back to Faber-Castell propelling pencils, Unipin fine I make line drawings, with simplified, angular blocks of strong, slightly muted colour. My drawing style is realistic and minimal with some fantastical elements… oh and quite a lot of animals!’

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‘I studied Fine Art at Plymouth University 7 years ago, then ran off to work for a brief time in New York. Afterwards, I moved to London where I’ve been ever since. Over time, I had turned my back on my own work somewhat and ended up in a full time job at the RCA. Shaking my practice awake again a few years ago, I realised that illustration was where I wanted to be. I spent a year or so developing my work, then sent myself off to some intensive workshops. I undertook my first commission shortly afterwards, making an illustration for event merchandise. Now, I am leaving my full time job to concentrate on establishing my illustration work.

My first point of inspiration is stories. I love to read – books, newspaper and magazine articles, fairytales, anything I can get my hands on. I also like picking up on turns of phrase people use while telling anecdotes, so friends and family can be a handy starting point. There’s a jumble of things that excite me: colours and textures of paper, contemporary print ads, pattern of all kinds, solitary train journeys and nature, whether it’s a trip to the forest, a weed in the pavement or the sparrows who hang out outside my living room window. My current illustration crushes include: Tom Gauld, Alexandra Bruel, Laura Callaghan, Mattias Adolfsson, Pomme Chan, Mr Bingo, Luke Pearson, virtually everything in Wrap magazine and half of Urban Graphics greeting card output!’

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Hello Emma Website | Blog | @EmmaRusset