Emma Louise

An illustrator who captures the intricate details of architecture by sketching
When did you start making illustrations? How have you changed since then?
Well, I’ve always loved drawing, Art was my favourite subject at school, and we’d spend lunches hanging out in the art rooms. Then when it came time to choose Unis, it was a toss-up between Art and Drama. Drama won. During my undergrad, I kept drawing on the side just as a hobby. Then (with a lot of support from my uni housemates), I set up a little Etsy shop and here we are!
It’s so funny to look back at work when I first started developing my illustrations. What I thought was decent back then, I look at now and think, ‘Boy, that wasn’t great’. But, even looking at work from a year ago, I can see how much more focused I have become on detail and working in a loose line style. It brings a drawing to life.
I’ve become much more confident since then. When I first started sharing my work, I was worried about how people would receive it and perceive me because of it. I would worry it came across as arrogant… don’t get me wrong – we have a long way to go. I still freak out at the thought of sharing my work. But we’ve come a long way!


You paint abstract florals, but your main subject has been architecture. When did you decide to sketch such intricate details of buildings around you?
It crept up on me over time. I love to travel, and there are just so many stunning buildings in the world! My camera roll is full of architecture. I didn’t draw in so much detail, usually getting impatient and jumping to the finished piece. But over the years and particularly recently, I have become much more of a perfectionist and really try to push myself to spend extra time drawing the tiny windows in a New York scene or whatever it may be. The details add so much to an illustration, and I see it brings the piece to life. I also love doing random scribbles over my work. If it feels too rigid, just go wild with an arbitrary line over the top, and it loosens it up and adds detail – win-win!
I think that’s why I started with the abstract florals, it provided a nice break from all the specific detail, and instead, you are free to paint whatever you feel. There is a clear end with a building – it either looks like the building or doesn’t, so it’s pretty easy to get it wrong. The paintings don’t have the same pressure.
What is it like making such detailed illustrations for you? Are you a different person when you are sketching or painting?
It’s such a break from life! Things can get pretty overwhelming, but I get so lost in an illustration or painting that it kind of dissolves all the stress. I’ll stick on my favourite playlist at the time (it changes often, but we’re currently on Scary Pockets and The 1975) and just spend hours focusing. You don’t have to think, but it still feels productive, and I love having something to show for it at the end of the day. Not sure if I’m a different person exactly, but I’m not trying to be anything for anyone, and I guess that’s different. It’s a bit of time to not strive for anything and just be. It’s nice.
Are you usually happy with the results? What do you think about your art?
That’s a tricky question… usually, as soon as I finish a piece, I’ll stand back and instantly dislike it. I think being so invested in it for however long it takes makes it hard to be subjective. So I try not to judge it before I’ve left it for a few hours and then come back to re-assess. I’ll then notice little details I’ve missed or see areas that are really out of perspective. Sometimes you just need a break! I’m not a massive fan of doing the same drawing twice, so I will try to save it if I can.
I think I can constantly improve my art! I used to compare a lot. There are so many incredibly talented people in the world who have such beautiful styles; it’s easy to want to give up. But, cheesy as it sounds, the world would be boring if we were all the same! I’ve learned there’s enough room for everyone, so don’t quit. My Dad is also an artist but everything I dislike he loves and vice versa! So I’ve concluded that even if I hate it, someone else might like it.
What has been a proud moment for you when it comes to your art practice?
The first time I had a commission for someone I didn’t know! It was for a wedding present and was an illustration of the reception venue. It was the first time I had adequately done a commission, and I had no idea what I was doing! So much goes into it – choosing materials, finding the right pens, figuring out how on earth to package it so it wouldn’t get bent in the post, writing labels, making the wrapping pretty, I just made it up as I went along. I remember feeling like I’d achieved something. Someone was asking for a drawing, and it wasn’t out of pity!
It’s one of those times I look back at now and think, ‘why the heck did I think that was okay to send?!’ – the details were just not there. But that was about five years ago now, so thankfully, we’ve developed a much better style.
What do you do when you don’t feel like making illustrations or painting?
I don’t do it. I’ll have a day off and plan to have the whole time creating with the tunes rolling and Earl Grey teas on tap, but if the day arrives and I’m not in the right mindset, I won’t always force it. I used to try and push through, but it would end in frustration, and I’d feel irritated at the lack of ‘good’ or ‘useable’ work by the end of it.
What are your hopes for the future? Where do you see your art practice heading?
Absolutely no idea! I often have all these ideas of what I’d like to do. I work in print and textiles or start my own company designing homeware things or being an Art Therapist. I dream of having an art studio and the space to paint all day, every day. Until that day, should it ever arrive, we’ll just keep on making things and see where it takes us!