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A Magazine for Sheffield
Emily Redfearn Blueberry Hills image1

Emily Redfearn Breathing life into the everyday

From cheeky condom characters to big dog energy, Em Redfearn’s quirky characters are joy personified.

I first encountered Emily Redfearn on Instagram when I was on the hunt for artists to approach for a Festival of Debate poster commission. I knew instantly that her vibrant aesthetic was exactly what I was looking for. Her colourful world of illustration and animation is irresistible, and it’s a pleasure to be able to share her work and her story with you.

Hey Emily. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what drew you towards pursuing a career as an artist?

I’m a Sheffield-based illustrator and animator, drawn to bold shapes and colours alongside creating bubbly character designs, and being able to bring them to life with animation is something I love to incorporate into my practice. Lettering also often features throughout my work, and combining these elements together into fun pieces is how I like to work the most.

Ernie, my dachshund-poodle cross, inspires a lot of my dog drawings and animations. Since being a kid, I have always wanted to be an “artist” and a “maker”, as it was the only subject I really clicked with and enjoyed, so there was no doubt about me pursuing a path in the arts.

Studying graphic design led me to specialising in motion design, ultimately leading me back into freelance illustration which I did on the side of full-time jobs until I went full-time freelance. I am now represented in the UK by Roar Illustration Agency.

Condom character
BDE Sticker

I love the joyfulness of your artwork. Where do you draw inspiration from when creating new pieces?

Thank you so much! I draw a lot of inspiration from inanimate objects. I visualise how they might have a personality or parts that lend themselves to human characteristics. I love seeing things and thinking “that looks kind of like a face”. Personifying everyday items or fruit and veg are particularly fun to bring to life as they just feel so bouncy!

Colour choice is also a big factor for me. I get inspired by colours I see out and about, on walks and things like that, especially now the weather has turned and all the flowers are blooming. It interests me how much a colour palette can impact your mood or create a positive feeling, and I like to do that as much as I can within my work.

Peach v4

What are you working on currently?

At the moment, I have a few projects that I’m working on which I can’t share much about, but I’m drawing lots of character designs which I love. I’m currently working on one of the largest projects I’ve been commissioned for yet, which is very exciting. The clients I’m working with are super playful which makes these projects so much fun. It also enables me to be uninhibited with my ideas when the client is up for the most creative vision I can come up with.

Recent projects include creating a poster design for Festival of Debate, designing limited edition illustrations for Magic the Gathering’s new card game and illustrations for this year’s Indie Beer Fest. I also exhibited at the Off The Wall Vans exhibition at their Covent Garden store.

FOD mockup 2

Your creative output spans multiple mediums, from GIFs and animations to marker pens and paints. Do you have a favourite, and if so, why?

Great question! It’s hard to choose a favourite because I enjoy them all in different ways. When I use one medium extensively I’m ready to play around with another. It keeps my mind from getting bored of working in one way and encourages me to stay creative and playful.

Usually, I use pens and paints when I’m drawing for leisure to relax – when I have the time to get a bit messier! With animating or illustrating through digital mediums, it tends to be when I’m creating for client work and the output is a little cleaner and faster.

My background is varied, being from graphic design, motion design and fine art, so it’s nice to keep the skills I’ve picked up from all of these in my work from time to time.

All characters
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You've worked on an array of fantastic commissions including a recent one for Festival of Debate. Can you tell us about a couple of the most memorable ones?

I really love working on commissions like Festival of Debate because they’re based in my hometown of Sheffield and I get so much satisfaction from seeing people in the city sharing photos of the work and knowing that I played a part in that, especially when it’s a topic I’m passionate about. For the same reasons, I loved working with Heist on their limited-edition beer Blueberry Hills.

Larger-scale projects like Quorn’s documentary Farm Under the City, which I illustrated and animated for, gave me so much pride and enjoyment to be involved in. The team included producer Lewis Coates of Static Flow Productions, and videographers and editors Brett Chapman and Jordan Carroll, who were amazing to work with and gave me so much creative freedom. The project had a great feeling behind it because the team were all Sheffield-based and so was the story of Leaf + Shoot (which the animation was about), yet it was going to be seen worldwide. It was amazing to see all of the film festivals it was selected for, even going all the way to the Bloomberg Green Docs final five. It had such a great environmental message too.

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And finally, what's on the horizon for you?

I’m looking forward to sharing the new projects that I have in the pipeline, and some from last year too, and I’m also looking forward to making more paintings, prints and products to add to my shop which is a never-ending task that I keep putting off!

I’m excited for new opportunities. One of the many reasons I love freelancing is the thrill of not knowing what’s coming. I have a few dream clients that I would love to work with including Lush, IKEA, Nintendo and Candy Kittens, to name a few.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)

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