Artist, illustrator and ceramic designer, Ema Frost burst on to the New Zealand art scene in 2010 and shows no sign of slowing down. Discover the inspiration behind her enchanting designs
Why Ema Frost is the New Zealand artist you need to know
Tell us about your background?
I grew up on a farm just north of Auckland and had every animal under the sun. When I was younger I thought I’d probably work with animals. I had a very magical carefree childhood and was always outside playing and discovering new things. I was fortunate enough to have parents that allowed me to think that anything is possible and I still believe that today.
Art was my favourite subject at school although when I left school I studied to be a personal trainer and worked as a freelance trainer for several years. I then travelled and lived in The States for a period of time and it was during this time I produced my first commercial piece and have been doing so ever since. I’ve never had a 9-5 job and this has allowed me the freedom to do what I love.
How has your art evolved over time?
My love of making art began as a young child and after leaving school I won several art awards for my illustrations. This lead to painting and design commissions. Early on my art consisted of focusing on illustrations and the past few years has seen me develop my interests into art objects, stationery, jewellery, postage stamps, gift cards, clothing, watches the list goes on…
When did you get interested in ceramics?
I became involved with ceramics out of a desire to make my own plastic designer toy (which is a big thing in The States) but not knowing how to do it at the time. Clay was readily available and was cheaper than plastic so I used this medium instead and still do today. I now also work with different types of plastics i.e. resin which is what I use for my jewellery and other art objects. I am, for the most part, self-taught in most of the mediums I use. I make all my own moulds and pour my own castings with resin etc.
What influences your style?
Clean lines and pops of bright colour with hidden charm inspired by Maori and Japanese folklore (Myth & Legends).
What research do you do when creating a new piece?
The type of piece I’m creating defines what type of research is required. Research may include trying to source raw materials for an art object and investigating how I might colour it and put it together etc. There are so many varying factors that determine what direction I go in, it’s like trying to fit all the pieces together in a jigsaw puzzle. I have to say that I love the challenge that constantly comes up when trying to figure out a solution.
Your pieces are displayed in galleries in Japan, India, Germany and North America, tell us how this came about?
I feel this has come about because of my belief that anything is possible. Exhibiting in these counties was a goal of mine many years ago. My love of travel and the many amazingly beautiful people that I’ve met along the way have made it become a reality.
What’s the most challenging thing about coming up with a new piece?
Being original and authentic to myself.
What do you try to communicate with your work?
I want people to feel the passion and motivation that I get when I create pieces. I want them to feel the spirit and energy that I put into my work and for them to get lost in this whimsical world with its hidden charm.
Is there any other type of medium you’d like to try out?
I am known to be into pretty much every medium out there! But I have to say I haven’t played with glass yet which I’d love to look into. Also, giant fibreglass sculptures would be great to try.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on a giant life size owl for The Big Hoot raising money for Child Cancer Foundation. I have been given a blank owl to paint which will be put on The Big Hoot Owl trail in Auckland early next year. I was lucky enough to be selected by Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, who is one of the sponsors for The Big Hoot. My artwork for the owl has been inspired by their latest ship’s interior design which happens to be my colour palette of blue/green, dusty pink and gold.
Do you have a dream project?
A ‘Frosty Wonderland Nature Park’ where my characters are featured and the proceeds from this would fund a conservation forest for NZ Native Birds.