I was raised in a small town on the South Island of New Zealand. My dad was the high school art teacher and a local artist, while my mum, also a teacher, has a flair for creativity – so I was always encouraged to draw. I used to draw comics about my cat, Smokey. I gave him a super hero persona, usually referencing my favourite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies at the time. Otherwise, I just secretly drew penises which I hid from my parents.
After seven years of doing graphic design, and a move from Auckland to London, I got a little tired of the [design] situations I found myself in. There were generally too many egos and opinions. I never felt like I truly owned the work I created and felt like I was often just a monkey pressing buttons. Living in London exposed me to a lot of illustration. I took up screen printing after hours so I could get some sort of creative satisfaction, which became a bit of an addiction. I started to feel that maybe a career in illustration was calling me, so I started to make plans for the switch. I worked pretty tirelessly. After everyone left the studio at 6pm, I’d stay there until midnight designing new illustrations to print on the weekends. I also managed to illustrate the work blog (generally trying to keep things in a consistent style), which helped me broaden my portfolio.
This went on for about 18 months and cost me a couple of relationships and a few friendships. I didn’t have a huge amount of confidence in my work, but the studio I worked for asked me to leave, and that gave me the push to send my work to agents, whether I liked it or not. I sent my work to Début Art as I really admire several of their illustrators. I definitely felt I was punching above my weight, and lost my mind a bit when they replied with interest. I couldn’t do what I do without them.
With my friends at Début, I’ve worked on some awesome projects. One of My favourites to date is a series of animations for Bank of America. I worked with Aardman Nathan Love, who were so much fun. The project started as a pitch and was chosen to be developed through to completion. Directed by Anca Risca, I designed the characters and backgrounds based on a great script. It was pretty exciting to see the designs brought to life, and I loved getting an insight into the [professional] animation process. Cole Ott was working on the storyboards and I was especially amazed at the genius little touches he’d apply to characters and scenes that gave them so much more personality. Illustration can be such a solo endeavour but I think it’s pretty great when you get to see someone else’s take on your own style.
I always try and keep time aside and a motivation for my own personal projects. Beyond drawing cowboys and Grace Jones, I have a list of things I want to get around to doing as well as unfinished projects. Right now, I am focusing on what I call my Neo baroque hybrid style. I look to the masters like Rubens, Caravaggio and Antony van Dyke and more recent heroes like Norman Saunders to get a sense of composition and drama. I reinterpret their images in my style, experimenting with how I can let it influence my work. Vector can be quite cold, and there’s nothing like a little romance to warm it up.
For the next few months I’m living in Japan with my lovely girlfriend, so I’m excited to see how this amazing country will affect my work. I place a great deal of importance in travel to stay inspired. I also love that illustration affords me this luxury.
You can find more of Emile’s work on his website bloodbros.co
Some links that inspire me or even helped me get to where I am today:
I don’t think it’s purely images that inspire my illustration. My favourite author George Saunders wonderfully merges the old and new in his short stories. One of my favourite books of his: CivilWarLand in Bad Decline
Right now I’m loving The Eclectic Light Company a one stop shop for Mac problems and art history.
When you are trying to remain motivated to do 16hr days to juggle a full time job and a personal creative outlet: The Collective Podcast keeps you good company. I realised that this brutal work ethic isn’t unusual.
Bank of America project (scroll down) promo.bankofamerica.com/friendsagain/a-new-tradition.html or aardman.nathanlove.com/project/bank-of-america-friends-again.