Emily Ormerod is a freelance illustrator and concept artist, specialising in Creature/Character Design. Emily graduated from BA (Hons) Comic & Concept Art in 2021. 

Here’s what Emily had to say on her work and how she has been keeping busy since graduating:

"I feel I have had a whirlwind of experiences after graduating, which even began whilst I was finishing my degree. 

I started working freelance for Treecer, a sustainable publishing house based in Switzerland in my final year at University. The sheer amount of work that was overlapping right up to, and after, my deadline was challenging to manage, and was a huge wake up call for how much work I should be giving myself at one time, which I feel a lot of artists struggle to deal with.

Image: Emily Ormerod, Africa, puzzle design for Treecer

The experience was a little shaky as a result of the timing of everything, but the end result is something I am very happy with and the collaborative project was a huge success. The kickstarter for the product, that being a 3000 piece jigsaw of an endangered animal world map went fantastically, and should be shipped out early next year. I am very grateful for Treecer in giving me my first professional experience and I learnt a lot from it.

Shortly after I had the amazing opportunity to work on a project that is really in line with my specialism. I reached out to a gaming company and had the chance to produce an illustration for one of their latest projects. This again was a mixed bag of experiences. But, that is life. And through some discussion with my Art Director, I got some clarity and direction for the next step.

These experiences have been a huge learning curve for me and have had a real impact on my perception of working professionally, but all have been crucial to take away and learn from."

Image: Emily Ormerod, Africa

Can you tell us a little about your work.

"My work and interests are more in the organic and natural world, that being animals and creature design for fantasy genres. However I class myself as an illustrator and concept artist, so I’m available for a wide variety of work!

I mainly work digitally, as this is the main line of creation within the industry, and is also the best method for my idea generation. I am trying to paint and draw more traditionally in my personal work. As previously mentioned, a lot of my inspiration comes from natural sources but I also often find a lot of motivation through others' artwork. Seeing others' amazing designs and process of creation is super inspiring to me. Especially those I look up to in positions I hope to find myself in the future.

I work methodically within my process as structure is very important to me. I follow the same routine with each project and break down each aspect of a design, which then can easily be translated and explained to others. Which comes under another inspiration of mine, conversing and idea generating with other like-minded individuals. Nothing gets me more excited than a good old brainstorming session where ideas can be freely expressed and actively developed.

Image: Emily Ormerod, Africa

I am currently working on my own perspective of art. I am trying to teach myself that it’s not all about the final product and that the journey is just as important and inspiring. It’s something that can’t be overlooked and so I should take the time to enjoy it a little more."

What does a typical day look like for you?

"A typical day for me, prioritises my most efficient work ethic. That being said, I don’t do mornings! I usually take my time early in the day and get myself motivated by doing something I enjoy, that being playing a video game or watching some youtube. After getting lunch I always feel more productive and often work through till dinner time and beyond into the evening.

I find that working once others in my household are sleeping is the best time for me as it feels like “my” time. I can sink my teeth into my practice and get lost in the process and music that accompanies it. Of course this can all vary depending on if I need feedback and if my clients are in different time zones. Once I get focused it is difficult to stop. But short breaks is something I am aiming to practice more, not only for the benefit of my wellbeing but also to step back and be able to get a fresh perspective on the piece. Which is vital for spotting mistakes and determining the next step of the process."

What was it that drew you to studying BA (Hons) Comic and Concept Art at Leeds Arts University?

"Comic and Concept Art at the time wasn’t even a running course, it was exciting to think that I was going to be a part of the first year ever to graduate from it and be able to help shape it for the other students applying for years to come. To me, it seemed like a place for people like me, a place that I had never seen on offer to those really interested in the film and gaming industry before (just to name a small section of the topics the course covers).

It seemed as if it could help the direction of my career and the development of the specialised art that I wanted to focus on so much more directly, without having to bend the rules of other courses. Applying for this course has been the best decision and experience of my life and this will always be true. The course has flourished into a safe and inviting environment for those who struggle to find a place within other sectors of education and is incredibly inviting to those who may be frowned upon elsewhere. This is what I saw in the course when first applying and I am super happy to see this come into fruition." 

Are there any projects that you remember most specifically, perhaps because they were challenging or unusual or that you are most proud of?

"My final term was super memorable due to the stark contrast in process of the projects I had taken on. My first 3 week project went as smoothly as ever. I was on track with everything I had planned, the work was coming out super varied and inspiring and the final result is still to this day one thing I am most proud of. This was my canine welly wanger which actually won 1st place in the competition it was made for. Whereas my self-directed pirate project was a nightmare in comparison."

Do you have any projects in the pipeline at the moment that you can tell us about? 

"At the moment, I have found myself exploring avenues I would never have had the time or opportunity to do within education and I am continuously developing my portfolio.

I have met some wonderful creatives within my own community and will be running workshops based around my specialism of creature design in tandem with their own practises, trying to bring families and the community a space where they feel safe to be creative without judgement. This is something that I never saw myself doing in the near future, but I think is important to embrace whilst I have the freedom of being out of education and the free time before I have larger commitments to a full time job."