INTERVIEW WITH EMILY FILLER

4/2/2020


RA: What is art? 

EF: It's so tricky to define art, I guess it can be anything.  I'm sure you can get a better definition from another source, but for me (as silly as it sounds) I have always thought of art as a friend that is always there for me.  It's something that excites me, that has helped me through hard times, that has changed the way I see the world.  

RA: How long have you defined yourself as an artist? 

EF: When I was younger I was very interested in drawing and colouring.  I also had this old suitcase (I still have it!) where I insisted on keeping things I collected that I found beautiful - wrapping paper, drawings that I made or that other people made that I liked, candy wrappers that I thought were pretty, etc...  It's funny because I still do that (collect random papers and things I think are beautiful) and now it's become a big part of my work. But I don't think I thought of myself as an artist until I went to art school - that seemed more serious because we had proper studio space and it felt exciting because I was part of a community of other artists.  Even though I define myself as an artist I don't really think about it much - I mostly think of all the things I want to make, all the things I want to learn, and all the things that are yet to come.



RA: Talk to us about your use of colour.

EF: I would say that colour is one of the things that excites me most.  I'm constantly observing my surroundings for interesting combinations.  It's not uncommon for me to stop people on the street to take pictures of their clothing if I like the patterns or colours.  For a while on my route to the studio there were these two old cars that often parked next to each other on the street and the colour combination was so great I still think about it.  I get very excited about colour combinations.  I don't think there's such a thing as an ugly or off-putting colour.  You can take a colour or combination of colours that isn't so great and then just add one more colour and suddenly it becomes magical.  I love that so much.  My work is often very colourful.  It's not something I plan in advance, it's sort of instinctual.  I also don't make use of much formal colour theory, I tend to mix colours intuitively and make decisions pretty quickly.

RA: How has the 21st century (and all that you have access to) defined your artistic practice? 

EF: As a mixed media artist I make use of a lot of tools that are available in the 21st century that I take for granted.  I use a lot of digital imagery in my work (photographs of flowers that I have arranged) that have been further digitally altered.  I use a printmaker to help me with my silkscreening projects, I don't think that silkscreening has changed too much over the years but the ease in which I communicate with my printmaker and send him images has been made possible by today's technology.  I think that's the biggest thing.  It's so easy now to communicate with artists around the world and to see images of and hear about shows I would probably never have known about otherwise.  As someone who loves to look at tons and tons of imagery, it's a dream to be able to access all this information.  I'm not sure that technically my work would be that different if I made it now or say 40 years ago, but I imagine the way I look at things and access imagery would be very different.



RA: Where does your inspiration for the bouquets come from? 

EF: Flowers are the most beautiful things I can think of or imagine.  Part of the inspiration for the bouquets comes from a personal place, my father loves to garden and I spent a lot of time in the garden as a child.  He is also a photographer and often takes photographs of flowers.  In fact most of my floral imagery comes from photographs of flowers from his garden.  But they are also versatile as a subject matter, which interests me greatly.  I love that an abstract mark can represent a flower.  I am very interested in collage, combining patterns and colours, and mixing different imagery in my work.  The bouquets and my work with floral imagery give me the freedom to experiment with all of these things.

RA: How did your academic background help shape your artistic practice? 

EF: I think the most important thing I learned at art school was how to observe - observe what is happening in your own work, the work of other artists, and your surroundings.  We weren't given too much technical information, we were encouraged to experiment a lot.  I do a lot of collage work and I would say observing and trying things out is a huge part of the way I work.  One of my professors had a huge art library and she was very generous in lending out her books to students.  She would discuss our work with us and then give us books she thought we would find interesting.  I have also carried this habit into my current artistic practice - I have a huge collection of art books that I reference regularly.  

RA: How were the Colour Studies born? 

EF: When I first joined Instagram I saw a post about a '100 day project' where you made one of something every day for 100 days.  I had been out of art school for a while and liked the idea of a project that was outside of my regular art practice.  I decided to make small collages from paper cutouts and paint and call them 'colour studies'.  Mostly at that time I was interested in mixing colours and patterns, I hadn't done much collage at this point.  After the 100 days were over I found that thinking about collage had changed the way I painted - I only really started to collage into my paintings after this project.  I also found that I missed the project when it was over and continued to make these smaller collages when I had the time.  Over time I added found materials, photographs, old letters, postcards and envelopes.  I continued to call them 'colour studies' as an homage to the original project.


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