Occupy Me


This article was written on 16 Mar 2015, and is filled under Art, Photography.

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Rosie Emerson: Artist


Rosie Emerson is a contemporary artist working almost exclusively in representing the female form. Her screen-prints, using unusual materials including charcoal powder, ash and sawdust shift the focus of printmaking from precision and replication, to the creation of unique, hand-finished prints with subtle texture. Her recent cyanotype works enable her to montage objects, with real size photographic negatives. Using the UV light from the sun to expose objects directly on the surface, she explores the interplay between painting, collage and photography. She currently holds the world record for making the world’s largest Cyanotype photograph.

Rosie’s work has been featured in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Another Magazine, The Financial Times Magazine and The Sunday Times Style Magazine.

OM: Can you describe an average day at work?

RE: I don’t really have an average day, my work tends to come in different phases, generally intensive making, research or admin, and some days a mix of all three. My daily ritual is walking my dog Prince every morning, it’s a brilliant start to the day. The rest of the day can then involve, making or planning work, delivering work or collecting materials, meetings, emailing, blog updating or invoicing.

Sometimes if am working on making light sensitive pieces, like my latest Cyanotype prints, I can only work after dark, so it is helpful that I work from home.

My work is very much intertwined with my daily life; I just broke the world record for the world’s largest Cyanotype print, a round the clock operation which involved turning nearly everything in my house blue! Worth noting though, breaking world records are not generally an average day for me!


OM: Have you always wanted to be an artist?

RE: Yes, in that I always knew I wanted to do something creative. I am lucky in that I come from a creative family; my grandmother is a painter and my father is a cabinetmaker. At school I loved all the arts; creative writing, drama, textiles and I still love costume and set design. I am very happy with the creative freedom that comes with being an artist.

OM: What was the hardest part about becoming an artist?

RE: The two main hurdles I have faced in being an artist are self doubt and being poor. It is difficult having a fluctuating income, very few artists are able to survive on their art alone, and I struggle with judging where to invest my time and money in my practice.

OM: And what’s the best part of the job?

RE: Making the work, that’s where I get the buzz.

I deliberately use techniques with unpredictable results, so there is usually an element of surprise as the work reveals itself, which is magic. It is a real rollercoaster of emotion and that’s what keeps it interesting to me.

OM: Do you feel you’re treated differently in your industry because you’re a woman?

RE: It’s difficult to say, as I have never been a man, it’s a really valid question, but not an easy one to answer. I know women are underrepresented in the profession, but as for being treated differently, I’m not sure. I have noted that Women, who would want to support female artists in equal measure to men run many of the galleries I work with. It is possible galleries have been put off working with me, and collectors buying my work because I am woman; I would hope not, but I wouldn’t necessarily always be aware of it, if it was the case.

OM: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given? And what other advice would you give to anyone looking to become an Artist? What qualifications and experience do you need?

RE: That the world doesn’t owe you a job, make what you love your job. There is a lot you can do to educate yourself about your practice and the art industry at large, but ultimately I believe you should trust your instincts and follow your own path, that is what fulfils me in my practice.

I have gained qualifications along the way, and attended various courses such as ‘Women in Business’, and I read blogs like ‘Be smart about Art’ and have taken mentoring from ‘The Art Insider’. I would recommend all these things.

If you would like to teach or lecture, I would recommend training up to MA Level. If you want to make art, then make it! Curate your own shows, get noticed, seize opportunities, take compliments and criticism with grace, and believe in your own abilities. Allow your enthusiasm for your craft to shine through your work, and through you when you speak about it. All this takes practice, patience and bravery.


OM: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in the workplace or in your career?

RE: I’ve made so many! The worst was totally losing perspective when preparing for a show. I nearly bankrupted myself, and even missed my friends wedding last minute, so that I could work. I’ve learnt now to be realistic, manage people’s expectations and that nothing is that important, I work hard, but always try to maintain perspective; it is just Art at the end of the day.

OM: What does success mean to you?

RE: Making work that pushes and challenges me as an artist. Being financially successful is wonderful because it enables me to make more work, and not wait tables.

OM: What’s your feminist wish for the future?

RE: That woman never feel fear, domination or repression from men, and no restrictions are placed upon women in the workplace.

Tweet Rosie here

Buy her work here.

Learn to screenprint yourself with The Print Club London.

Artist Resources:

The Art Insider

Be Smart about Art


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