Emily Lambert has long been fascinated with indigenous American culture. Perhaps that’s curious for someone from the UK, but it also fits neatly with her other loves – animals and nature, texture, colour, pattern and narrative.
She has only JUST graduated from Illustration at Loughborough University, and chose Native American stories and legends to focus on for her final major project. “My best work always come from something that I’m inspired and passionate about, and it was important for me to stay motivated and interested in the subject throughout such a long project.” She says it was good to have such a theme to focus closely on, and chose one of the traditional legends to create a visual interpretation in the form of a graphic novel.
“I also wanted to create some pattern designs for the end papers of the book, and this led me to develop a further project – designing a series of patterns based on a Native American theme.” She has since transferred these designs onto fabric, and used them to cover such things as cushions and journals.
“I always begin with sketching out lots of ideas and ‘thumbnails’ of my designs so I can play with composition and different variations of the same subject. If I like a particular sketch I will scan it into Photoshop and use it as a guide to trace over. I draw the images on Photoshop, apply texture to them and play with adjusting the colours and composition until I’m happy with the outcome.” Her textured backgrounds in the designs come directly from prints she has made by hand (especially by her favourite technique, monoprints), as well as watercolours, acrylic and charcoal. “This has helped me retain a ‘hand crafted’ aesthetic to my digital images and means I’m still always experimenting with traditional media and techniques alongside my Photoshop work.”
I asked her if there was anything quirky about herself that she’d be happy to share. “Well, aside from being instantly drawn to anything rainbow or turquoise, I also have an unfortunate obsession with pigs. They are my favourite animal and there are various pigs dotted around my room in the form of mugs, postcards and ornaments (I daren’t count how many!) It seems that my growing pig collection is substitution for not having a pet one, but I’m determined I shall own a couple of Kune Kune pigs as pets one day.”
Emily is currently looking for placements and freelance opportunities. She is also keen to start her own online business selling her journals, cushions and more. “I know the freelance route is going to be turbulent and unpredictable, but hopefully I will be graduating with a strong portfolio demonstrating my skills and passion for narrative illustration and surface pattern design. I already have a small commission with a card company to design a range of greetings cards and I’m hoping this small start into freelance work is the beginning of bigger and better things for the future!”