Hello Friends! I'm so happy to share today's artist interview with Emily Hancock. Emily is a multi-talented creative with an unmistakable style and her work conveys her deep appreciation for horses and nature. Enjoy!
Please tell us a little bit about where you live. What is it like being an artist there?
I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of The New Forest with my husband and two children, an area in southern England which has one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pastureland, heath land, and forest, and where wild horses still roam free. As an artist, I am spoilt for choice and am thankful for this ever-evolving environment that feeds my creative mind on a daily basis. Nature’s influence impacts the way I work and the images I produce, bringing me a sense of freedom and curiosity that I use to create new work.
Have you always known that you were an artist? When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has your art career evolved?
I always knew that I wanted to be an artist; I just never knew how I’d channel this passion. I have been a professional photographer for over 15 years now, but spent a long time in equestrian event photography, progressing into equine portraiture. It wasn’t until about 7 years ago that I decided to take the plunge into art photography. It was the best decision I ever made as it has allowed me to be totally unique and create in my style.
Are you a full-time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?
As much as I’d love to spend every day creating art, being a mum of 2 and managing another family business means I do almost work full time! I spend 2 days in my studio creating, planning, selling or getting on top of my marketing. The other 2 days are taken up by running two children’s day nurseries in Winchester. I need the right space and environment in order to be creative, and my studio is the perfect place for this.
Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?
The most obvious theme is horses, of course! My pieces are inspired by the connection I have with horses. Just like people, there are many layers to a horse’s personality, and it takes time to uncover each one. Slowly but surely, with time and after building trust, the horse will allow you to see deeper into its soul. I am fascinated by the different aspects of each horse’s personality, and how my relationship with each horse that I photograph deepens and evolves. More recently, I have found a lot of inspiration with flowers, hence my new Flower Horse series.
What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?
I am pretty organised as artists go! I usually plan my work and don’t often go out on a whim to create something. I think, for that reason, I don’t often get creative blocks. I am one for creating inspiration boards... no project is ever begun without one! I have an entire wall in my studio that is dedicated to collecting little snippets of photos, magazine cut-outs, quotes, interesting art and even other artist’s images that have caught my eye. This helps me focus my ideas and means each new collection has a purpose. Creating has to be done either in complete silence or with a specific playlist on- I’m far too easily distracted by certain music and that isn’t ideal when you’re trying to create your next masterpiece!
I love your new series, Flower Horse! It’s quite a departure from your previous work. Can you please talk a little bit about the inspiration for the series and what it means to you?
Yes, it is indeed! I have spent a lot of this year getting inspiration from flowers, plants and the nature around me. I have been spoilt for choice when it comes to the vibrant colours of the wild flowers that grow around our home. I wanted to combine my love of horses with my new interest in flowers, so I used digital media programmes to layer flower and foliage images upon an equine image of my own. Some layers incorporated flower hand-drawings and photography, and each new edit was printed and re-photographed, before more layers were applied on top. It was a fairly lengthy process, but the final product was exactly how I envisaged it would be. I love this series- it has been one of my best-sellers, even though it is quite different to any of my previous work as you noticed!
Let’s talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?
I think I have a pretty good work/life balance. I dedicate 3 full days a week to being with my children and family. On my studio days, the second the kids come home from school is finish time for me! I am teaching myself piano, I take my daughter riding on her pony ‘Meg’ most mornings before nursery, and have a personal trainer every Saturday morning. Although my art is important, I think you-time and time spent with family is invaluable and irreplaceable.
Who (or what) are your biggest creative influences?
I have been closely following the work of Ysabel Lemay over the last couple of years. The depth and complexity of her pieces really speak to me and I think her work is stunning. Parts of my flower horse series were definitely inspired by her use of creative media to layer photographs on top of each other in order to create new pieces. I also have a love for impressionist art. The Impressionist period, where artists translated emotions into images and deliberately painted with a lack of detail, is a huge influence on my work. So is abstract expressionism, where the intention was creating pieces that provoke an emotional response from the viewer. I use these ideas and techniques in my own work, deliberately focusing on the broad details and emotions of the scene.
What does being an artist mean to you?
I’ve spent many years experimenting with artistic mediums, but I always gravitate back to photography as the catalyst and foundation of my work. The ability to capture a millisecond of our history that would otherwise be missed, and immortalising it with my camera, fills me with a heady elation. I love that I am able to witness these fleeting moments, and once I’ve successfully photographed one, I cannot wait for the next opportunity.
If you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Follow your creative path, wherever it is taking you. I have been an equine portrait photographer for the majority of my photography career and I loved the job. However, after a number of years, I was really keen to progress into equine art, but I was too scared that I wouldn’t succeed in the art world and was comfortable in my good-earning position. Looking back now, I just needed to go for it!