Here's more about... Emma Magenta.
Have you always been an illustrator? Was this the focus of your study at art school? I have always, since I was a child been utterly obsessed with the feeling that I get when I hold a pen in my hand and have a blank piece of paper in front of me. I cannot help myself. I just LOVE drawing. I just need to do it. When I was at art school, drawing was compulsory and I found the different disciplines within drawing helped sharpen my perception. Although, a certain amount of rigidity coincides with any formal training, I believe learning those disciplines and boundaries eventually aid you in obtaining the freedom to establish your own style. Along with drawing, I majored in photography and printmaking. At one point, I thought I really wanted to be a photographer, but it was because I loved framing a moment, the composition was what excited me… and I think I had a crush on someone who was in the photography class, so that also added to the sudden tangent in direction.
Was there always going to be more than one book? Originally, Deb and Bradley [from Night Butterfly publishing house] put forward the notion of a little series, I guess I kept that notion in my head, and yet I still wanted each book to work independently as well. Within “The Magenta” series, I have decided to just have three in the series to retain the integrity of the character, format and style. Magenta has many sub-personalities which I have decided to explore in a different format than as a narrative.
In what ways has the response to the books surprised you? People have approached me to tell me that The Peril of Magnificent Love saved them… from what I am not sure, but the compliment far exceeds my expectations of it when I created it. I was really just trying to be very, very honest about how I experienced love up until that point and I realise that our experiences are not that unique. We all feel pain, we all want love. It is that simple. So I guess when I receive that kind of response I feel gratitude to have something in my life that enables me to connect with so many people whom I would never have met and with those whom I may never meet. It confirms my feeling that all life is not separate.
Where do you look to for inspiration? Being in the moment and responding to whatever is going on in it without worrying if it is a really “important” moment… all moments are of equal importance to me. Travelling, music, books, films and my childhood are probably the most unconscious influences. My greatest inspiration is from observing people and how they are really responding to something… not in what they say or do, but in what I can sense underneath. I observe until I can empathise and then I arrive at a desire to recreate what I had just witnessed. My emotional history and the people involved in that are pretty much a central influence. Nature, walking and thinking are my methods that allow the inspiration to emerge in a more organic way. Speaking with friends about problems that I am trying to sort out in my mind… hearing their response. The ways animals can look sometimes and more than anything else I am constantly inspired by the world view of a child.
What is a day in the life of Emma Magenta like? It can start off John Cage and end Arvo Part… often. Everyone I know can safely agree that I always try and do too much. I agree. Depending on what is happening with my son and his current investigation of the world - as it forms the skeleton of the day’s events - often sees me discovering the thrill of outdated practises such as walking backwards up a hill, singing the theme song to a favourite cartoon at least 400 times and reading about 15 picture books without stopping. However, a day never starts before a good coffee and never feels quite complete without an Earl Gray tea. In between, I am 95% of the time completing a project or beginning one, so a lot of drawing goes on, and most of the time there are three different projects going on at once. At times I am having or organising meetings with those involved in the project, going to book shops, playing Capoeira, and generally dealing with a 16-month-old baby, walking down the road to the beach, cooking and distributing affection to my family and friends.
Images courtesy of Emma Magenta.