Emma Farrarons is a children’s book designer who recently returned to illustration when she began contributing to Amelia’s Magazine. Since then she has hosted a solo exhibition called Hidden Folk in Shoreditch, contributed to Okido kids’ magazine, been part of the 100 Cats exhibition and completed illustrations for her first book. Her contribution to my 10th anniversary limited edition book (and also available as a limited edition gold print) is called Moon Rabbit and features the Chinese legend of Chang’e. ‘By overdosing on a magic pill that grants immortality, poor Chang’e floated all the way to the moon only to reside there for eternity with her companion the Jade Rabbit. That is why you can see the silhouette of a rabbit on the moon.’ The colour way was inspired by Klimt’s bold use of gold and ochre and the dress pattern (featuring a few hidden rabbits) reflects a love of printed textiles.
How did you research your idea and come up with a way to illustrate the Moon Rabbit and how did you create the artwork?
When reading your brief I was instantly drawn to the words moon and folklore. I remembered hearing that the Chinese saw a rabbit on the moon. This is how I came to learn about Chang’e, the moon goddess. In a few words, Chang’e overdoses on a pill of immortality and drifts into the sky. She floats into darkness until she lands on the moon only to live there forever with her companion the Jade Rabbit. That is how the Chinese came to explain that there is a rabbit on the moon. I found this tale beautiful and wanted to share it through illustration.
What was the most enjoyable part about creating this piece?
Working on the colour, texture, detail and composition have been enjoyable parts. The element of gold influenced my choice of colour. I searched for a palette that would compliment gold in a subtle yet impactful way. I remembered being fascinated by Gustav Klimt in my school years. His father was a gold engraver which is perhaps a reason for Klimt’s ‘Golden Phase’, when he applied actual gold leaf on his paintings. This encouraged me to use warm ochres, yellows and midnight blues.
One could say that the illusionist and filmmaker Georges Méliès was another source of inspiration for his film A Trip to the Moon. In my mind, I have a vivid image from his film. It is of a beautiful woman perched on the moon as as though she’s sitting on a swing. Working into the textures and the detail of Chang’e’s dress was great fun. It was a great excuse to buy gold paint! I love textile design and pattern. If you look closely, can you notice the constellation and hidden rabbits on her dress? A printed pattern can also tell a story.
Who do you think would most enjoy this artwork, and why?
I’d say someone who likes the moon, folklore, when an illustration tells a story, the female form in art, textile, fashion illustration…and rabbits!
How did you end up living in London, and what route did you take into the publishing industry?
I’m originally from Paris. I studied illustration at the Edinburgh College of Art and l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. After Scotland I moved back to Paris to start life as an illustrator. These were very early days, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do just yet. One day, I took the Eurostar to London, loved it and stayed. After an internship in a publishing house, I’ve since worked as a picture book designer and freelance illustrator.
What was the spark that reignited a love affair with drawing?
There had been a time when I had lost a bit of my confidence as an illustrator. With social media, I started to connect with other like minded creatives, including Amelia’s Magazine. You were doing illustration call-outs via Twitter and one particular call-out was the spark that reignited my curiosity to draw and to get out of my comfort zone by using more colour.
Since then, it’s been a busy year of drawing. I’ve collaborated with producer and director Joanna Arong to design a canvas bag for Eskwela Haiyan, a non-profit organisation which raises to help children victims of typhoon Haiyan finish school. I have worked with Fika to create Hidden Folk: A Scandinavian Folklore collaboration around art and food. I’ve completed a textile printmaking course in Sweden and joined the illustration collective Bat Country Collective with illustrators Åsa Wikman, Dani’s Drawings and Karin Söderquist. The last two are also Amelia’s Magazine contributors.
I believe you currently have a book in the pipeline, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I certainly can. In fact, it’s very exciting to tell you more about it. It’s called The Mindfulness Colouring Book: Anti-stress art therapy for busy people. It is published by Boxtree and comes out in January. It’s a 100 page colouring book filled with black and white floral, geometric, wavy, animal patterns designed to calm and de-stress a busy mind with mindful colouring-in. The book is at this moment at the printers, but I can show you a sneaky peak of some of the pages.
What can we expect from you in the coming year?
Bat Country Collective are planning to exhibit at Fika in the coming year. We are currently brainstorming interesting themes. In the coming year, I’d like to give a bit more time and broaden the content of my blog Un Petit Blog. I’m enjoying connecting with other bloggers and learning more about blogging. It’s an empowering feeling to be ‘all-in-one’ the publisher, editor, curator and illustrator of your own online platform. The latest is that Un Petit Blog has just launched Un Petit Newsletter which will be packed with interesting news including: Exclusive doodles, Favourite finds and tips when out and about, The very latest news on my illustration projects, And much more… The 1st newsletter my subscribers will receive will feature TWWDNU!
You can read more about Emma’s process here and sign up to her newsletter on Un Petit Blog. Click on over to my Kickstarter campaign to grab one of her stunning Moon Rabbit artworks featuring faux gold leaf. There are only 10 available, so snap yours up fast. Only £45!
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