Tucked away in her studio in a bustling café in Mornington’s industrial precinct, illustrator Emma Morgan practises her craft. Her recently revamped studio provides both a sanctuary and inspiring space to create gloriously detailed illustrations of wildlife, both of the Aussie kind and some found further abroad.
I first stumbled upon Emma’s work through the usual method, stalking some of my favourite Instagram accounts and you all know how one thing leads to another…While viewing her work in those little boxes captivated my interest, I was delighted to find the real deal at the Emu Plains Market at Balnarring then view her work more intimately at a group exhibition at The Nook Gallery in Mornington. Emma’s attention to detail is exceptional and captures a vulnerability, which, in spite of my arms length love for wildlife, encourages the viewer to appreciate the subject for what it is, without distraction.
Possibly now though, a new favourite of mine, is Emma’s white tiger head mural painted on the exterior studio wall in Commonfolk, which she shares with fellow creatives, Kate Macindoe and Fran Noble. The mural is inscribed with the words, ‘Living the Dream’, and in our latest MP Feature Creative interview, we spoke to Emma to find out how she is doing just that.
LC : Are you a Mornington Peninsula native? If not, how did you come to be here?
EM : I’m going to say, yes. But my family did relocate here from the UK when I was very little, so I’ve grown up here.We’ve never left since – it’s such a beautiful place.
LC : How did your journey as a creative begin?
EM : Since birth? Haha. I’ve always enjoyed creating things. My mum still has all of my kindergarten paintings of my cat, which are pretty hilarious. But I never stopped drawing basically. I ended up doing a Visual Arts degree at Monash, which I loved. After finishing that I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do so started studying Interior Design at RMIT, which I also was enjoying… and then halfway through my first year I landed my first solo exhibition in Fitzroy – I quit studying at the end of that year and the rest is history.
LC : Which creative field are you in and what medium do you use?
EM : Primarily I draw/illustrate but I also like painting and print making. I also love textiles and sewing. For my own practice, I mostly work in fine liner and sometimes watercolour.
LC : Where do you find inspiration for your work?
EM : I think a lot of it is engaging with nature and wildlife – I like to go on adventures to see what I can find (sometimes adventures are local, sometimes they are abroad – depends how I’m feeling).
LC : What are the biggest challenges you face as a creative person?
EM : There are lots of challenges – the creative industries are incredibly competitive and the competition is stiff. I think for young creatives too, financially it can be tricky to start out if you’re freelance. You have to genuinely love what you’re doing otherwise you will struggle.
LC : What role do you think the Arts play in our community?
EM : I think it has a reasonably important role – Art (in all forms) always provides great social commentary, which I think is super important.
LC : Do you have any advice for kids wanting to pursue a creative career?
EM : Mostly to never stop creating and experimenting. Always push yourself and be prepared to work hard. Also, go and study art/design because that’s half your ticket into the industry. Take every opportunity you can to put your work out there and try to network with other creatives, because being a part of a creative community can really benefit you.
LC : Who are your favourite Mornington Peninsula creatives?
EM : Definitely Sarah Dingwall + Kate Macindoe.
LC : Tell us your favourite place to eat or grab a coffee on the Mornington Peninsula.
EM : I have to say Commonfolk don’t I? It is actually the best though.
LC : A Sunday on the peninsula is best spent..?
EM : If the weather is nice I will be wandering around Birdrock Beach or The Briars for sure.
LC : Where can we find you and your work?
EM : You can visit me at my studio in Commonfolk to see the full menagerie in person.
Studio: Commonfolk – 16 Progress St, Mornington VIC