Our Featured Guest – We Talk To Illustrator Emma Ball

Emma Ball is a renowned British Illustrator, based in Nottingham. Her works are sold throughout the UK in various shops.

When did you start painting?

I have always loved drawing, as far back as I can remember. My Mum blames it on the Spirograph, but I think I always loved the feeling I have with a pencil in my hand! Once I left school I went on to sixth form where we had a great art department and the creativity started to flow. Maybe my watercolour skills needed working on at the time as my tutor suggested I gave them up! Obviously I didn’t, and from there I went on the Nottingham Trent Foundation course, followed by their Graphic Design Degree.

After completing my degree I kind of fell into designing hand cut stencils and applying them to plant pots and fabrics. I then sold these via craft shows all over the country and even supplied John Lewis for a few years!

What inspires you?

Eventually, after an inspiring trip to Venice I began painting again and that’s just how this business began. A few Venetian cards grew to me painting Cornwall – then Devon, Scotland and then the rest of Great Britain! I guess it’s my love of the British Isles and colour that inspires me, tending to see each county in a different palette. The coast is hugely inspiring and I love nothing more than painting a seagull!

My latest range has been to design a set of animal occasion cards all wearing hats or doing daft things with little sayings around them. This range brought together my illustration and graphic skills and a love
for typefaces!

Which Artists inspire you?

I’ve always loved Stanley Spencer, especially his Ship-building on the Clyde series, as well as Lucian Freud, the Impressionists, Mucha… my list goes on. I love a good lino-print and etching and some of today’s artists I love include Sasha Harding, Charlie O’Sullivan, Ian Phillips, Gerry Plumb, to name a few.

Where do you work, and what mediums do you work with?

Nowadays, I work from two studios, one at home and one in-between the warehouse and office here at work. I do prefer to work from home with my cats helping on the drawing board! I use a mix of watercolours and love Old Holland for their greens, Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton who now have these fantastic large pans of paint, perfect for washes!

Of course my favourite brushes are Rosemary’s! I prefer to use the Kolinsky Sable series 22 and 33’s. The brush sizes vary, but never ever smaller than a size 4 (I tend to prefer a size 6 or 7 as the points are still pretty sharp on those!).

I never limit my palette of colours like some artists. It’s all about the colour with me and I tend to quite often mix as I work into the picture adding a ‘splash’ of red to the sea green and more water over to see where it takes the picture. Surprise is the most exciting part of watercolours!

What are you working on at the moment?

So much, it’s making my head burst! From September onwards I’m chained to the drawing board creating new designs and products for the spring seasons. In a few weeks I’ll start thinking about Christmas 2017 (I know!) as it has to go into our early 2017 trade catalogue!

As a company we now work with three (soon to be four) other artists, which creates a good variety for the catalogue and it is actually nice to work with other people’s designs too!

Images courtesy of Emma Ball.

To find out information on Emma and her work please visit her website:

Emma has issued a code for 15% off to all Rosemary and Co customers valid until end of May 2017. Please contact us for the code.