Ashgate Asks….. Emily Jane Bruce


Swansea based illustrator-maker and the Rising Stars 2018 winner

What is it that you do?

My current focus is creating original creatures and characters using mixed media and textile techniques. My qualifications are based in traditional illustration, but I find a great joy and satisfaction in making my ideas into tangible objects.

What does your work aim to say?

My work is an exploration of my passion in the fantastical and outright strange. I embrace these qualities in my work and hope to encourage others to see these wonderful new worlds through my art.

What made you decide to get involved with the 2018 Rising Stars exhibition?

I was eager to show my work in a professional gallery space alongside other artists. As I soon will be graduating, I was actively searching for these opportunities during my time studying. I am still reeling that I was chosen as this year’s winner!

How did you decide what pieces to submit to the Rising Stars exhibition?

This group of creatures is a mix of some small personal projects and my third-year university work. I wanted to present my best pieces, characters that presented my style and the unique quality that I can produce in my art.

Tell us your initial thought processes in starting this body of work?

I used lots of my personal photography for reference. Places, objects, colour. I drew my creations long before I started constructing them. From that point I used my imagination to create something unique.

What do you see as the strengths of your pieces? Visually or conceptually?

Visually, I think it’s shows that I am not afraid to explore my ideas and create objects that challenge the ideas of what is beautiful or grotesque. I also demonstrate my ability to successfully recreate my illustrations as 3d pieces with a high level of skill.

Which is your favourite medium to work with?

It changes! Depending on the project. I love the feeling of clay, its cold on these faux specimen pieces. It really gives a level of macabre to the creatures that is almost life-like, making it the perfect medium to use on this project!

What are you working on now?

I’m working with papier-mâché pieces that explore my ideas surrounding the themes of post-mortem morning photography, fantasy creatures and a celebration of being an outcast amongst popular society.

What level do you want to take your work onto?

I would love to move into the world of puppetry, maybe even film stop-animation. But I would like to keep my work relatively small in production scale, I would even like to one day produce vinyl resin figurines and one-off colour variations.

Which current visual art trends are you following?

I focus on form and in particular- style of paint application, so currently I am enjoying the revival of the 1940’s cartoon illustrations and animation that’s popular online. Texture plays a big role in my work, so I follow lots of printmakers for inspiration, as well as traditional doll and teddy bear artists.

See more of Emily’s work

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