Meet the Maker: Emma Garner Prints and Jewellery
Illustrator, printmaker and jeweller Emma Garner makes drawings you can wear. As she explains: “Because I’m an illustrator by trade, my jewellery is very much about the picture captured in each piece.” Her handmade jewellery features dolls, dragonflies and typography, all testament to her skill with a pencil, and the ingenious invention of an illustrator who also loves the physical process of making. We caught up with Emma to find out more about her work…
Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello, I’m Emma and I make print miniature jewellery.
How long have you been making and creating?
I’ve always been an artist. I have been making jewellery for about three years now, but before that I worked as a freelance illustrator.
What was your experience of craft in education? Were you encouraged to be creative at school?
Some of my earliest memories are connected to craft at school, probably because it was my favourite subject. Aged about six, I can vividly remember making an embroidered bookmark and discovering that during the process I had accidentally sewn it to the skirt I was wearing! I definitely feel that we were given the time to explore our creativity back then. I have really positive memories of the primary school years. One of my favourite childhood recollections is of mixing endless rainbow colours from the huge tins of powder paint during our weekly painting lessons – I can still smell it now! I had some great teachers at secondary school too, and went on to study art at A-level and then on to art college.
I really believe that anyone can draw. In fact, some of the liveliest drawings I’ve seen are by people with no training, and therefore less inhibition.
Do you think anyone can draw?
Drawing is one of my favourite activities, though I don’t do enough of it these days. When I was very small I used to make my mum and sisters laugh by drawing caricatures of the kids on our street. I moved on to life drawing at art college, which I adored. I really believe that anyone can draw. In fact, some of the liveliest drawings I’ve seen are by people with no training, and therefore less inhibition. However, by studying it’s possible to learn new techniques that will definitely improve your drawing style.
Can you talk us through your making process? How do you start a piece?
Because I’m an illustrator by trade, my jewellery is very much about the picture captured in each piece. I begin the making process with a print of one of my images which I seal beneath glass. When I first began making jewellery I experimented with some of my existing illustrations and placed snippets of them into pendants. As I expanded my range, I started designing images purely for use as jewellery, for example, my heart or entomology images.
Who are your design heroes?
I have so many design heroes! Grayson Perry for his amazing, almost illustrated ceramic vases; Hope Gangloff for her ability to capture the beauty of the human figure and combine it with stunning colour and pattern; Andy Goldsworthy for conjuring the most beautiful sculptures from nature itself. On a local level: Alex Lucas, a talented Bristol artist whose large illustrative paintings of animal characters adorn the walls of buildings around the city; and Ged Palmer, a lettering artist and sign painter based in London. As a fan of typography I love and respect his work.
What or who else inspires you?
I live in Bristol, which is an incredibly inspiring place. There is a thriving, cutting-edge creative scene here, from street art and music through to illustration and design. I run a shop with some other makers called 7th Sea, selling locally made/designed products which is near Stokes Croft – an area renowned for its experimental art scene and independent, rebellious spirit. Inspiration is everywhere you look. Many of my friends are artists and we all support one another and are probably influenced by each other too. We’re all busy people but sometimes we’ll meet up and have a brainstorming ideas session, which is always fun.
To anyone thinking of selling handmade work I’d say find something that you really enjoy making and then experiment with a small collection of products. Work out what sells most successfully and what has the best profit margins.
Can you describe your workspace?
My workspace is organised chaos! I have a room at home for my craft stuff, which doubles as a family junk room. Things can get a little crazy in there so I often find myself escaping to work on the kitchen table.
I have a room at home for my craft stuff, which doubles as a family junk room. Things can get a little crazy in there so I often find myself escaping to work on the kitchen table.
What’s the most precious item in your studio and why?
It would have to be an inviting, tidy desktop bathed in natural morning light – all ready for a new day of making. Oh, and my radio usually tuned to BBC6 Music.
What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
The best thing about being creative for a living is the pleasure I get from coming up with an idea, creating a piece of jewellery, incorporating it and then getting an order from a customer who wants to buy it and wear it. That’s very rewarding.
If you weren’t a jeweller, what would you do?
I’d be concentrating more on illustration. I do still design prints and greeting cards and it’s something I think I’ll spend more time on in the future.
What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
I’d say find something that you really enjoy making and then experiment with a small collection of products. Work out what sells most successfully and what has the best profit margins. Look at the market and get an idea of the sort of prices customers are happy to pay for similar things. It can be hard to get noticed in an online environment, so try a few craft fairs or art trails to get a direct response from the public. They can give you invaluable feedback. [Find out how to sell your crafts online with Folksy.com here.]
What does craft mean to you?
Craft means using skilful techniques to create beautiful, life-enhancing objects.
To celebrate being a featured maker Emma is offer 15% off in her Folksy shop with the code SUMMER15. Only valid until Monday 10th August 2015.