Interview with Illustrator Emma Bone

Designer Emma Bone interview- Rising out of the ocean cover image high res

If you follow my parenting blog or even if you just have young children then you may be aware of the work of New Zealand based illustrator Emma Bone. In our house we celebrate Emma through the constant wear of the fantastic Tobias & the Bear leggings she designed. I love looking at the design process behind a work of art, and her Monster squad leggings are certainly a mini masterpiece along with her second Tobias collaboration Bo-rot bandit.  

How did you get into illustration? 

High School art class was when I first knew I loved to design, but I never really enjoyed proper realistic painting and would have rather complete my whole art portfolio with a pencil. I discovered Laura Laine a Helsinki based illustrator who draws the most amazing fashion illustrations in pencil and instantly thought this is something I could really get into.

What is your favourite medium to work with?

For the last year I would say Indian ink, I love the beautiful imperfections of the brushstrokes and all those ‘Flaws.’ It creates such a personal touch to typography. Although at the moment I am enjoying working in finer pens or markers for illustration, I don’t think I could live without my Staedler pigment liner in 01!

Please describe a typical working day?

Week days: I wake up around 6.30am and grab my phone straight away to check what is happening in the Insta world, sad I know, I finally drag myself out bed (as I have a day time job at my local newspaper as a graphic designer), when I get home at around 5.00pm I like to unwind, usually a run, have dinner, then sit back at my desk and work out what projects/jobs I have to do etc. and go from there, depends on how much I have on but I always like to hop back into bed and finish off my day with some social media.

What is your working environment like?  

At the moment me and my fiancé are in between houses so wherever I am I just have my wee work desk set up, My large white desk, pushed up to my inspiration wall next to my printer, my work environment must be organised, quiet and warm otherwise I find it impossible to work. I like to work next to a window with the sun streaming through and have that natural light.

You work a lot in black and white, is your home decor quite monochromatic also?

You’ve got me there! I love colour I really do but when it comes to decor there is just something about monochromes that will never get old.

What project do you consider to be the most significant of your career?

I would consider my collaboration with Tobias & the Bear as my most significant project. Designing Baby/Kids fashion was something totally new and allowed me to push my illustration skills and find my style in a way. This project has given me exposure as a designer and has generated a lot of interest in my work.

How did you come to work with Tobias & the Bear ?

The lovely team from Tobias & the Bear actually found me on Instagram… such an amazing social media tool for designers, they contacted me and we went from there. Another piece of advice for designers would be social media is key!

You are based in New Zealand whereas Tobias & the Bear is England based; did this prove a challenge when it came to designing?

Most of the people I have worked with so far are from afar and I personally haven’t found it challenging at all, I think it’s all about being consistent and very organised.What advice can you offer other budding designers?

Trust your gut on design decisions, work hard, be different and always start with tea!

Do you have tips on developing an illustration style?

I think you just have to go with what you know and learn what makes your piece of work different, what sets you apart from the rest. I’ve learnt you can’t try and make your style look like someone else’s you have to be yourself.

How would you describe your style?

My Design style I would say is probably very similar to my fashion style, Modern but classic, bold, authentic, raw, hand drawn, and feminine!

Do you work better in silence or to music? If music what is on your go to playlist?

Definitely Music, I refuse to work without it unless I need full concentration. Most people like relaxing music when they design or work I love upbeat party/dance music, it gets me really motivated.

Where do you get your influences from?

I found this question really hard as I actually don’t know where some of my ideas even come from. Usually once the brief is set I brainstorm, scribble down every little thing I can think of even if it does sound silly at the time, then I Pinterest, I’m a huge Pinterest fan for inspiration. In a project I recently worked on I found inspiration from children’s drawings and children’s toys.

You dabble with a lot of elements of design; is there a route you prefer to work with?

I would love to expand and experiment more with illustration, I really love logo design and branding as you create the face of a new or existing brand, this is a pretty big deal. How many times has everyone brought a product because of the packaging or the logo? Or is that just me? I recently created the logo, branding and website for Hair Candy a new hair conditioning product coming out really soon in New Zealand, this was my first big branding project and was so much fun.

Were you a creative child?

I was always the girl in primary school who would sit inside at morning tea and lunch time and draw funky wee cartoon characters for all the girls in my class. I would draw girls, each with different hairstyles, skirts and shoes, or every time we had to do a title page for a new school project everyone would come and ask me to do up some type for them. Bubble letters were everything back then.

What job did you want growing up?

It’s actually rather embarrassing but when I was real little I wanted to be a singer, not sure why because I truly am tone deaf! Got to love a dream. But I have always wanted to do something where I could be creative all day so I guess I’m winning!

What project would you love to work on?

I would love to work on some fashion projects, magazine editorial projects or creating some more pattern prints for clothing, perhaps women’s fashion.

Do you have any designers you particularly admire?

I love Jasmine Dowling, and whoever is behind the ‘good objects’ illustrations, I’m totally obsessed with their work and the careers they have created for themselves.

When do you feel most inspired?

At night most of the time, I actually work a lot better at night as well, it’s nice and quiet and I have no distractions. I also get inspired when I am not under any pressure.

What has been your greatest adventure?

I think coming out of University and realising that doing my own thing could actually become a reality. It’s become an adventure finding myself and my niche as a designer and it’s still happening.

What can we expect from you in the future?

There are so many things I would love to pursue in the future and I have so many ideas that I am dying to get into, expect more exciting collaborations and my very own website coming very soon!


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