Emily Maree talks Vogue, being retweeted by Kim Kardashian and following her dreams with popular illustrator Holly Shortall
When and how did you start illustrating?
A lot of people email me asking where I studied illustration, or how I ‘learned’ to draw but the truth is, it’s something I’ve been doing since I was physically able to hold a pencil! I was very lucky to have parents who were both in the art industry (my mum was an artist and together my parents owned an Art Advisory business) so they would have always encouraged me to draw.
Growing up the 90’s meant I was surrounded by images of the Spice Girls, iconic fashion moments such as the infamous Liz Hurley/Versace moment and magazines like Hello and OK – so I was drawing fashion illustrations of celebrities from about the age of 7. My parents have kept them all!
What inspires the illustrations that you do?
Apart from commissions, I do like to draw for my fans and for myself (feels very big headed saying ‘fans’!) on my social media. I am inspired by relevant and current events such as the infamous Kimye Vogue cover or Victoria Beckham’s 40th birthday. My followers react best to illustrations of events or people that they are familiar with and it’s important to me that people enjoy viewing my work.
How does illustrating fit into your life? Is it a full-time job for you?
At the moment: no. I am still working three days a week as a visual display artist. I work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Some weeks I could have an almost unmanageable amount of illustration work so I will leave the day job and go straight home to start the night job! But I can’t complain. Every spare minute I have I’m drawing. I just love it so much!
What kind of commissions do you do and what are your favourite types of illustrations to do?
All sorts! I get requests from bloggers, make-up artists, models, designers…the list is endless. People like to order them for birthday gifts for family members or friends too.Personally I absolutely love doing celebrity illustrations and this is where I would love my career to go. I would love to have my own weekly slot in a magazine or national paper, doing illustrations of current events in a fun way.
What national and international designers do you admire?
Apart from the obvious like wanting to own a Chanel Bag, I love Irish designer Helen Steele – her work is just beautiful. Joanne Hynes is another favourite. I think Lennon Courtney deserve a lot of credit for how they have built up their brand and I would find them inspiring in that regard.
What has been your career-defining moment so far?
I have two. The first was in May 2013 when Aoibhe Devlin (of The Secret Obsession Blog) asked me to do an illustration of her, and paid me. She was the first person to pay me for work and I didn’t think I could call myself ‘a fashion illustrator’ until I received my first commission so she enabled me to do just that! The second was when my month-long campaign of emails, Tweets and Instagram messages, I managed to get Kim Kardashian to see – and subsequently share – my illustration of her and Kanye’s Vogue cover with her combined social media followers of 53 million. I genuinely nearly got sick when I saw!
What celebrity would you love to illustrate for?
The absolute dream is VOGUE. I can’t stress enough how much of an ambition that is. It’s my life goal to have an illustration featured and I will go to my grave believing anything is possible! I’m also a massive Victoria Beckham fan and I would love her to employ me to illustrate the whole family.
How did it feel to have celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kelly Osbourne re-tweeting and blogging about your illustrations?
Oh my God, I am still internally screaming. It was huge. Kelly, to me, was huge in itself but to follow that with Kim, the most famous person in the world, I can’t even. It was simply mind blowing!
What advice do you have for any illustrators that are trying to make it?
Never give up. Anything is possible. Work hard, stay focused, be nice. Know that in order to gain recognition you may need to do a lot of work for free. But also, know when to stop that and never undersell yourself. There is a little bit of an issue in Ireland with people expecting you to work for free but I think there is only so long you can do that!
What are your plans for the future for your illustrations?
I have some very exciting projects lined up, including working with an Irish brand to create something amazing for their A/W 14 Press Day. I’m also about to sign a contract with a company in New York – but that’s top secret for now! My website (HollyShortall.com) is being developed at the moment and I want it to be really exciting, so I will be working very closely along side my web designers Zonua to create an exciting place people will love.
Words: Emily Maree -Editor & Co-founder of intrigue.ie