If you’ve ever shopped at a local art market or craft fair, you may already be familiar with Emily Chu. Though she focuses on commercial work and teaches at Edmonton Digital Arts College, she has become a staple at markets across Alberta, where she showcases some of her personal pieces.
Q: How would you describe your illustration style?
A: I majored in illustration, but through a design background. So although I do curate through a design lens, I start all projects with illustrative sketches for layout. Then, I sometimes incorporate text in an illustrative way. So there is a lot of pattern and shapes and even sometimes typography that’s kind of embedded into the illustration. However, the focus of my work is always on illustration. I do like to keep it pretty light-hearted though and just fun, colourful.
Q: How is your personality reflected in your work?
A: I tend to not like to do long-term freelance projects. I tend to prefer shorter illustration projects. Most of my illustration jobs range from one week to six months. A lot of it is more commercial and for magazines and product design rather than things that are over many years, like concept art or graphic novels, so I think that comes across just in the format of my illustrations, my temperament.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your personal work?
A: I find that it’s mostly about experimentation for me and to try different things and it really does help me grow as an artist. All the work that I do at markets, that’s probably as personal as it gets because it’s work without any clients and they’re one-off pieces so I can make something a little bit more funny or strange. And the thing with markets is that you can get instant feedback which is really great.
Q: What has it been like working with Royal Bison for the past three years?
A: I do really, really enjoy being a part of the market crowd, but in particular the Bison crowd. I moved here in 2011-12 and for the first couple of years I worked alone at home just doing magazine editorial and textile design and stuff like that so going out to the Bison was quite a life-changing experience. People were just so welcoming and it made me feel a lot more part of a community. They’ve just been so kind in broadening the community in Edmonton between visual arts and fine arts and makers.
This article appears in the May 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.