Want my job? With Emma Butler, landscape artist

"There aren’t many jobs where you have complete control and autonomy over your work. Being an artist allows you complete artistic expression."

Want my job? With Emma Butler, landscape artist

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is Emma Butler and I’m an artist living and working in Holmfirth. I work from my studio, creating large scale abstract colourful landscapes that encapsulate the feeling of being immersed in nature. I use acrylics and mixed media on large rolls of heavy watercolour paper. I am represented by Gallerina in Darlington and my first solo show is opening on April 20, which is very exciting!

I studied Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University. I graduated with a First Class honours degree, got selected to exhibit at New Designers, London, and won the Best Use of Colour award, sponsored by Dulux paints. I created a range of paints based on my paintings. My first job after university was at Tigerprint as a greetings card designer for Marks & Spencer and at the same time Gallerina picked me up as a new artist. I freelanced as an illustrator and artist for a few years before travelling and settling in Queenstown, New Zealand, for 13 years. I emigrated back to the UK in 2018.

Tell us about your new exhibition at Gallerina in Darlington.

The exhibition is called JOY and the work is a celebration of the British landscape in a palette of bold and beautiful colour. Painting in glorious colour lifts my spirits and hopefully those who view and collect my work. In my work, I want to acknowledge how the landscape is what people turn to for comfort and healing. We’re so lucky with the landscape we’re surrounded by in the UK. I often stop on a walk and take a moment to look at the sky or marvel at the horizon or a fluorescent sunset that lights everything up. This exhibition is a celebration of all of these things; the landscape, the power of colour to uplift the soul and the awe and wonder of feeling it with all my senses.

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What’s great about your job as an artist?

There aren’t many jobs where you have complete control and autonomy over your work. Being an artist allows you complete artistic expression. What a wonderful thing!

What are the most challenging parts?

The most challenging thing is working alone and it’s something I struggled with particularly when I was younger. I missed the community of university or the design studio at Tigerprint. There is a financial challenge as well. Like any self-employed person, the income is unknown and irregular and that takes a while to get used to.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

Winning the Best Use of Colour award at New Designers in London and winning Best of Contemporary at an exhibition in New Zealand. Being represented by Gallerina for 23 years and having the opportunity for a solo exhibition! It’s every artist’s dream, I’m sure.

What was your career path into this job?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

I studied art GCSE, A level, Art and Design Foundation and specialised in Textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University. Then I had honed my skill, found my voice and had a portfolio that opened many doors, which is how I got the job at Tigerprint. Someone bought a painting at my degree show and took it to Gallerina to be framed. Richard (Gallerina’s owner) liked my work and wanted to represent me from that chance interaction. 

I have mostly had other jobs alongside my art career for stability and interaction on a different level. So, I’ve worked as a Gallery Consultant selling other people’s art in NZ, retail work and I’ve worked as an Interior Design Consultant. I currently work for the Science Museum Group as a buyer and develop products for the retail stores in five museums across the country.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

Making art a priority has been a big challenge, but it has always felt a necessity even when I’ve needed a regular wage. Sometimes you have to juggle and perhaps pick up the day job to be able to do the thing you love. And that comes with its benefits; suddenly you’re painting because you can, not because you have to earn a wage from it. It frees up a lot of creative expression and allows you to create your best work and take risks.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?

Painting original artwork is a beautiful thing and a timeless thing so it has luckily escaped a lot of fads. AI will be a challenge but I think something created by one human with their hands, telling their story can never be replicated.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

I would say you’re working so hard and you’re doing so brilliantly at your art. You will carry this skill through your life, no matter where you travel in the world. It’s something that no-one can ever take away from you. And whatever you dream is entirely possible if you work hard, show up, put your work out there and take every opportunity that comes your way.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

The arts are needed more than ever. If it’s your passion, then please do it and pursue it. The world needs your gift. There are so many people employed in the arts and it is what so many of us have lived a life doing. It is entirely possible with hard work and dedication.

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Voice Magazine

Voice Magazine

Voice is a magazine and platform for young creatives covering arts, culture, politics and technology. This account contains anonymous posts, information regarding the website and our events.

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