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Emily Spikings Fun in the Sun

April 20, 2020

Hello everyone, I hope this finds you well and keeping safe. The designers and illustrators I’m selecting for my posts at the moment are making me feel bright and happy, I trust that’s the same feeling for you too. What strikes me about living in Emily Spikings world of illustration, is that everyday means fun in the sunshine.

Hi Emily, what’s your earliest memory of spending time doing artistic pursuits ?
I grew up in a very creative household, my father was an art teacher and an artist in his own right having various exhibitions and selling his work through art galleries. Being creative was always encouraged, and with creativity all around, there was always access to paint, paper, crayons, scissors etc. I’m told that one of my favourite things to do as a kid was cutting up bits of paper into tiny pieces (something that my 2 year old son has inherited). My earliest memory would be of my dad drawing pictures for me to colour in, and making cards for my sister and family. He had both my sister and I making etching plates and Lino cutting as soon as we were able. Art has always been a part of my life in some form or other for as long as I can possibly remember.
When did you first realise you had developed a definite style to your work ? 
It’s only recently that I’ve started to explore illustration for myself, my sister is an illustrator and from an early age it was clear that she was far more talented and skilled in that area than me. I was more into shapes and colours and my dad suggested I’d be better suited to graphics, I took his advice and that is what I did. I’ve been working as a graphic designer for over 23 years now. I’d worked on a few projects that involved the odd bit of illustration and enjoyed it. About 3 years ago my daughter decided she didn’t like the beautifull ‘Famille Summerbelle’s – Maximilien le magician’ print which I’d hung on her bedroom wall and requested I drew her a giraffe. It all started from there, I drew her a giraffe (which is currently on my G print and still on her wall) and the style of illustration just progressed from there. It’s the only style I can do, strong, simple clean lines, I guess it comes from my graphic education.

Which other artists presently inspire you ? 
Eric Carle has always been a favourite of mine from a young age. I remember vividly his books that were read to me as a child ‘The bad tempered ladybird’ being my favourite, and now reading the same books to my own children, I can recognise now why I liked them so much. The bold colours, the graphic style and simplicity.  My Dad had an ‘Aesop fable’ book illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen and I can remember pouring over the pages as a child, loving all the quirky friendly animal faces. After my father passed away a few ages back, I am now the owner of the book.
I’ve discovered lots of extremely talented people on instagram since joining, I always look forward to posts from susie hammer, amy blay, carly gledhill, they make me smile the most.
Do you have a particular colour palette that you work to or just a feel for colours that work in any particular line or collected product range ?
I was told at a young age never to be afraid of colour, and it’s stuck with me in everything I do. My home, my clothes and my work. I like bold, bright colours. I do have a swatch range that’s permanently in my colour palette on illustrator and tend to work within these but it’s not a given. I enjoy spring, summer colours the most, ones which make me smile.
I’ve recently designed a range of cards available through Wuzci which I limited myself to around 10 colours to tie them all together.

Do you have any plans to expand into other ranges, such as books, gift wrap, textiles etc ? I think some of your prints would work really well in these areas.
I’d love to expand, I really would. An A-Z book would be the dream. I designed one a few years back for my daughter and got a it printed through the internet, but a published book would be so exciting. (If you know any book publishers, feel free to send them my way). I’d like to develop greeting cards in the future. Another wish would be some sort of nursery set – duvet covers, curtains, prints, rug etc. I found when I was pregnant with my first child that the shops were full of beige, plain, whimsical designs, nothing fun, colourful or exciting.

How do you manage to balance your own work, commissions and raising a family, do you find you can still have regular work hours or is work fitted in around your family’s needs ?
After I had my second child I was made redundant. I made the decision that I would try my hand at freelancing and see if I could fit it in and around school and nursery times. I was fortunate to have some wonderful friends who provided me with freelance work that I could do at home with the odd office visit. My son is in nursery 3 days a week and my daughter is at school, so Mon, Tues, Wed I’m able to work from 9 till 3.20. The rest I have to be flexible and fit into an evening or weekend. My own work came about from a lack of creative freelance jobs, I felt the need to do something for me, I started to make little mobiles for the kids and more requests came in from them, fairies, lions, sunshines…… I loved creating them and decided to try and open an Etsy shop and start an instagram account so I could share my designs.

Your family is clearly an important part of your work and all that you create, an inspiration too I’d guess. Where do you see your work going in the next few years ?
Tough one….. I’d like my work to support me finically over the years so I could stop the freelance job. In terms of my designs…. ummm my children are going to become older and will grow out of love with my little mobiles and prints that I design for them. Will my designs evolve to an older audience? Oooo I don’t know, I’ll have to wait and see.

If you had a whole month to dedicate just to your work, what would you do with it ?
Oooo blimey that would be a luxury. I’d promote, promote, promote, get more people seeing my work. I’d find out ways to advertise my designs and Etsy Shop. I’ve noticed lots of people send out free prints to influential people on instagram to advertise to target markets, however unfortunately I don’t have the budget for that. I’d spend time researching craft fairs and publishers and apply to as many as possible. I’d really like to develop a series of Illustrations based around nursery rhymes and fairy tales, that’s on my list of things to do and continue to have fun with it. I love designing the posts on my instagram which reflect my family life and what we’ve been up to, it’s like my own pictorial diary. Hopefully the kids will enjoy looking back on these in a few years.

Thanks Emily for sharing your fab work and ideas with us. You can wander through Emily’s Etsy Shop for something to make your kid’s smile or if you need some amazing Graphic Design work for your company then she’s great at that too. She’s handled creative projects for the likes of Nottingham City Council, Royal Doulton and Wedgewood to name but three impressive clients. You can also see more on Emily’s Instagram .

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