Emma Philip‘s approach to design and illustration is at once playful and refined – though her style is clean, she lifts it with elements that are bright or offbeat or fun. Just graduated from AAA with a degree in Creative Brand Communications, two of the exceptional projects she worked on in her final year were recognised at the 2014 Loeries: winning gold for Student Collateral Design was the ‘Almanac of extremely average animals‘ she was part of the design team for, and her animated title sequence for ‘Bronte’s Story‘ (seen above) was awarded a silver Loerie for Student Motion Graphics. Emma is currently working as a junior designer at Cape Town bespoke design studio Jane Says. As part of our annual graduate series, we spoke with her to find out more.
How and why did you become interested in design?
I attended a Waldorf School from the age of 4, being in that environment definitely encouraged my creativity. I knew I wanted to do something creative but studying design was a very impromptu decision, however I couldn’t be happier with the choice!
What do you enjoy, or alternatively dislike, about it?
I really love all aspects of design. I am most happy when designing/illustrating – I can get lost for hours. I enjoy finding a unique solution to a design problem, I spend a lot of time on the conceptualising stage.
How would you describe your style?
I have a very clean style – contradictory to the way I approach most things – but still fun and playful.
Onespoon – packaging:
Was completing a degree in Creative Brand Communication at AAA what you expected it to be? Has your perception of the field changed since your first year? – And if so, how?
Because my decision to study design was very last minute, I didn’t have any expectations. I did have a lot of fun studying at AAA though, I made some lovely friends! The one thing I have found is that the creative world is filled with the most wonderful people who keep me excited about what I do.
What’s the best piece of advice you received while studying?
Stay curious and authentic! I recently read a article about Bill Gardner, he said “Read anything that you can. Know the classics for reference purposes, understand mythology, know how a steam engine works, how to change a bobbin, calculate compound interest, and why the North Star doesn’t move.” I really liked that.
Tell us more about your process. What balance do you seek between order and spontaneity in the way you work?
I try very hard to be organised however I often fail at that miserably. I do a lot of research and brainstorming when I get a brief, which is a big help. It is sometimes a very gruelling process however once I am happy with my direction, the fun part starts!
Which of your creative projects are you most proud of?
I am probably most proud of my final year project, GO (Get Outdoors). I had a lot of fun doing it as I used an augmented reality app (Aurasma) to bring my illustrations alive. It is difficult to explain without showing you, but I will try my best.
GO is a concept for an outdoor event that encourages families to get outdoors. Every month there would be a different venue (Kirstenbosch Gardens, Tokai Forest etc.) and a different theme (Under water, A thousand Years Ago, Nurture Nature etc.). The venue of the month would have scannable landmarks that people would have to find to unlock the digital content, almost like a virtual reality hunt. For example if the theme was A Thousand Years Ago, you would scan a particular landscape that GO has identified and dinosaurs would appear on that landscape through your screen to show you what it would have looked like during the Triassic period.
The project included a series of illustrated postcards and posters that could be scanned by the Aurasma app to advertise the event. The illustrations were deserted landscapes and when scanned, animated people appeared on the screen superimposed on the illustration behind it. Below are some of the postcards and the animations that appeared when scanning them.
GO (Get Outdoors) – postcards and animations:
Your ‘Birds’ zine is an example of merging a digital approach with traditional mediums like painting. What influenced this decision, and is this approach something that might come to characterize your work?
This was a lovely project to do, I really enjoy doing things by hand and have always loved painting. I try to bring in handcrafted elements wherever I can – it is a nice break from the digital world.
What is more rewarding: the process of creating something, or the final outcome?
Definitely the outcome. The process is sometimes very gruelling, a lot of anxiety and uncertainty! But nothing can beat the feeling of being proud of something you have created.
What are your plans for 2015 and beyond?
I have just started working for Jane Says as a junior designer which is very exciting. The girls who I work with are lovely and so is the work they do. One thing I have discovered since I started working is that I have a gigantic amount to learn! I plan to carry on loving what I am doing, and keeping curious!
Where can we stay updated with your work?
Birds – digital zine
Emotional memories – infographic:
Uncooked – recipe book:
Pocket garden – mobile game:
On The House – display typeface: