Emma J Shipley is a graphic artist, who after graduating from the Royal College of Art set up her own label of intricate and beautifully drawn and printed scarves in 2012. Showing at at London Fashion Week, the designs were picked up by Browns and since Emma has gone on to win numerous fashion awards, including the Emerging Fashion Brand prize at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards.
I met Emma at London Fashion Week, where she was displaying her newest collection. I instantly fell in love with her designs which are all hand drawn and so unique. As well as scarves she has branched out into womenswear and also jewellery.
Emma you are under the spotlight…
So Emma, how did you get involved in illustration/graphics, was it something you had always wanted to do?
I always loved drawing – it came naturally to me and it’s a medium I felt I could express myself in. After doing an art foundation course I pursued a Textiles BA, and then MA – I loved the way textiles can start with drawing and illustration but can also become something more than that.
Your scarf designs are beautiful where do you take your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from all over the place, but the main themes that are always present are patterns in nature, evolution, myths and fairytales. Each season I work with some particular inspiration – for example, for my upcoming Autumn/Winter 15 collection I have been inspired by prehistoric animals, the last ice age, astronomy and conceptual artist Joan Fontcuberta, to name a few.
I have got my eye on a scarf from the Tinkerbell inspired collection, the designs are so intricate and detailed. How long would you say it takes you to design a scarf from start to finish?
It’s a time-consuming process as I draw each complete scarf design by hand in pencil from start to finish. The drawing process can take anything from two weeks upwards, then colouring and digitising the design ready for printing is probably another two weeks. Hopefully the time that goes into each design is evident in the final products!
What made you want to branch into womenswear as well as the scarves?
My customers had often said that they would love to be able to wear the designs in garments as well as scarves – in a way they are a bolder statement as you can see more of the design – it is not folded or wrapped around the wearer’s neck. It was also a logical next step as I was already working with the beautiful Italian silks which translate so well into luxury womenswear.
You have won numerous awards for your talents including the ‘Emerging Fashion Brand prize at the WGSN Global Fashion Awards’ and the ‘RISE Newcomer Award at the UK Fashion & Textile Awards’, how does it feel to have your work acknowledged in the fashion world?
It’s been fantastic to have this kind of acknowledgement so early in my career. As I come from a graphic art and textile background, it’s great to feel that the fashion industry recognises this as just as relevant and interesting as fashion-trained designers. It also shows the business is doing well which is great as it gives stockists and new stores confidence in my brand.
Do you ever do any custom designed pieces?
Yes I do take on private commissions occasionally – for example I’ve recently worked on a custom illustration based on a client’s cat, and also a wedding invitation.
Whose style do you admire?
I really admire women who are truly original and know their own style – for example Viv Albertine. I was also a big fan of Amy Winehouse.
Have you got any exciting plans for the coming year for the brand?
We are launching our second and largest collection of womenswear later this year and I am currently working on a (top-secret) range of new products which I am very excited about. I also have another collaboration coming up which I cannot wait to tell people about!
Sounds like there are lots of exciting projects ahead Emma! You can shop Emma’s designs on her website at emmajshipley.com.