Artist Spotlight: Emily Redfearn

In this month’s showcase of Sheffield-based creative talent, Lucy Jeffs speaks to illustrator and animator Emily Redfearn.

First of all, how did you get into graphic design? 
It started through education and university. I initially trained as a graphic designer, which eventually led me back into illustration and animation as well. Then I ran with those two mediums because that’s what I’m most passionate about.

You focus on a lot of bold and bright colours. What draws you to this style rather than fine line or minimalist approaches? 
I think I go for bright and bold colours because that’s what interests me the most in art I like, and the other artists I look to have always been quite like that. Especially the Hanna Barbera cartoons and the kind of old-school animations and cartoons I grew up with, they were always full of high-impact, sugar-loaded colour. Also, I really like high-contrast art, so I go for all or nothing in that way. In general, I just like uplifting, quite fun work. I envision how someone might view my work and I’d like it to be something that could bring a smile to their face

Do you have a favourite project that you’ve worked on?
The work I did with Quorn was definitely one of my favourites. It was about Leaf and Shoot, a Sheffield-based biopic farm who sell their produce to local cafes and areas in the city. It was a really close one to my heart because everyone in Sheffield was bunching together and working on a shared project. Also, I really like mixed mediums, and we got to combine a lot of creative skills: their videography, my illustrations and animations, plus the input from Static Flow Productions who produced it. Obviously, the story behind it was very sustainable, very eco-positive, which we were all very passionate about. That combined with it being Sheffield based just made it a nice touching piece. Other than that, I really enjoy my work with Terrace Goods, a restaurant in town, which I branded and did a lot of illustration work for. That has been a lovely project to have seen grow from the ground up into what it is now.

On that note, how has it been working with Sheffield Indie Beer Feast?
It’s been amazing. I think the nature of beer can art and design are very much to my taste. It’s out there, can be very experimental; it doesn’t have to literally be what’s in the can, so it can be quite playful. When you go out for a drink, it’s to have a laugh and some fun and that’s the kind of feel we wanted for Indie Beer Feast this year – something light, fun and informal, which are all elements that carry through my work.

How was the jump from doing full-time graphic design to being a freelancer?
I didn’t really have much choice at the time because I lost my job during the pandemic, but I had always freelanced on the side, and I knew that that was the direction I wanted to go in. Thankfully, it was really fruitful, and I’m very thankful for the drop in at the deep end. I always think that life’s a combination of hard work and coincidence: you can work as hard as you can, but you have to have the element of luck and timing for certain things to happen.

Do you have any milestone moments?
The opportunity to lecture was lovely because it sort of feels like coming full circle from when I was studying. My biggest milestone is probably getting signed to Roar agency last October. It came out of nowhere – we just started chatting on Instagram – and then Skye, my agent, asked if I wanted to be represented and it all went from there.

Any upcoming plans?
I’m getting a new studio, which will be nice. I’m also hoping to do more physical work this year because I work digitally most of the time, which I do really love, but it’s nice to get away from a computer, go a little bit old-school and paint my voice in a traditional medium.


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