Interview with Artist Emily Simson
The team at Creative New England is creating a range of exciting competitions for one and all to get involved in over our lockdown period. We were lucky enough to spend some time chatting with the lovely Emily Simson who recently helped us create one of a series of Artist videos with our friends at NERAM.
Emily, thank you for helping us with this collaboration!
Tell us a little bit about your job as an artist and how you got to where you are today?
My job as an artist is part-time working in my home studio, but the elements I draw on seem to be always in my consciousness and observations of the world around me. After completing a skills-based Fine Art course in 2000 I worked with painting to translate the landscape around me and exhibited regularly. In 2013 I began using printmaking techniques that can be made without any specialist presses, Lino prints, Collagraphs, and Monotypes. More recently I have access to an Intaglio/etching press in the Museum of Printing at NERAM in Armidale, through membership with the fabulous Black Gully Printmakers.
How did you become interested in your current creative practices?
I love looking at art in general and the infinite ways artists interpret familiar subjects. This encourages me to explore the techniques I have learned and push them to make interesting artworks that are unique and also satisfy my curiosity.
I grew up on a farm observing and learning many creative skills, including sewing, ceramics, gardening, and drawing. My parents made pottery, family activities included digging up clay, building kilns, and checking the firing of the kiln on cold winter nights.
Do you think your creativity has been influenced by your personal life?
My choice to study Fine Art was encouraged by my family and I have been fortunate to have been able to continue making art.
When setting out on a new project where do you “find” your ideas?
It is a combination of elements of art that I admire and take influence from and my immediate surroundings. Most recently I have been making drawings and prints from botanical and man-made items found while walking around the semi-urban bush tracks. Starting with drawings, certain elements become interesting to me like shadows or patterns for example, from these I make layers of varying texture, shapes, and colours.
View this post on Instagram
“Morning offerings” is in the Uralla pop-up gallery @melroseuralla . I combined the shapes of wattle pods with a stem of Contoneaster discarded by some busy parrots. . Printed using 3 collagraph plates this one is numbered 2/10 in a Varied Edition. . . . #urallansw #regionalnsw #australianprintmaker #australianart #collagraph #emilysimson #buyfromthebush #australiannativeplants #bushfinds
Do you think creativity involves putting your heart and soul into your work and following an idea? Or is it more like letting your mind flow freely to witness the surprising results of your actions?
To me, creativity begins with an idea to explore a subject and respond to the subject through the chosen medium or technique. I am usually responding to the things that appear during this process and use that to create the artwork. Surprising results are the exciting bit, which suits my practice rather than repeating the same thing over and over.
Do you act on all your creative ideas?
No, some ideas can be disappointing visually so, if I’m not happy with what I’ve been working on I know it’s time to move onto the next idea or expand on old ideas. The aesthetics of an idea have to satisfy my personal preferences and keep me interested.
Can you tell us about a personal highlight in your career as an Artist?
Exhibiting with the group exhibition 25km from the Meridian in 2000 with 5 other Gunnedah artists at various stages of their artistic careers and reuniting in 2015 with The Road home.
What is your favorite medium to work with and why?
I use acrylic paint on board and paper sometimes with mixed media, I find the acrylic paint dries quickly which suits my painting style allowing me to build up layers.
I am exploring Intaglio Collagraph printing as well, using multiple plates to print up to 3 colours. This technique lets me combine textures and linear details from each plate to be printed over the top of one another with sometimes surprising results. The plates can be printed many times which lets me vary the colours and the subtle aesthetics.
Do you feel that you’re influenced by any creatives in particular?
Many artists interest me from Modernity to contemporary artists and inspiration from these artists evolves with my own practice.
Do you have any other hobbies, outside of Art, that influence you creatively?
Yes, I love walking in the bush or National Parks, this keeps me connected with the trees and landscape that I tend to use as a subject.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
Working towards exhibitions is important for me to focus on a body of artworks that work together, showing an evolution from one particular idea or subject and it’s variations. It allows me to push the visual effects and then a new interest comes from this exploration to start with next time.
Are you working on a specific project at the moment?
Before the COVID shutdown, I was working on a collection of botanically inspired Collagraph prints to be printed using the Intaglio press in the Museum of Printing. I have been converting some of those visual ideas to relief plates that can be printed in my home studio and eventually combined together to create more multi-colour prints later in the year. The printing plates themselves are visually interesting so I am currently exploring the carving of woodblocks and acrylic painting as individual artworks using similar subject matter.
I also just finished filming a few things with NERAM and the team from Creative New England, they were so warm and professional while making the instructional videos, making me feel at ease. Such a great collaboration to be part of and how fantastic to have the opportunity to be involved. 😀
The creative industry isn’t always the easiest – can you tell us about a challenge you’ve faced?
Reaching an audience to view my art has been challenging, I’m building and embracing online avenues and social media has definitely changed the way art can be viewed so I am looking forward to making that work for me…
What would you say is the most enjoyable thing about being an Artist?
If my art touches or connects with another person that is a wonderful thing.
As a creative, what is the best advice that you’ve ever been given?
A drawing teacher told our class to “Be Obsessed”. To become totally immersed in the subject and obsessed by it makes you see so much more and delve into so many more possibilities.
And finally, what’s your favorite thing about being a part of the New England community?
There is always such a feeling of openness and sharing in this community. It’s great to see so many creative people working in the region.
Thank you so much for your time Emily, it was a pleasure!