Emotive and pleasing, the work of illustrator Ema Gaspar comes littered with hidden messages

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  • Emotive and pleasing, the work of illustrator Ema Gaspar comes littered with hidden messages

By transferring her thoughts to paper through irregular objects and analogue compositions, she explains how each of her pieces have their own distinctive narrative – but this isn’t something she always plans. “When I start, I don’t have any idea of what the final image will look like, from that first object I add in new ones with new stories.” The only thing that is concrete throughout her working process is that she knows when to stop – when she’s successfully created an “atmosphere of a memory” or represented an emotion that she’s experienced. This can be seen through a trip to Japan which has dominated her memories of late, littered with toys and “something acidic”. She adds: “I miss being there so much, it was an absence of something not very stable, because that’s how I’m feeling right now.”

Rather than drawing from that which surrounds her in the present tense, Ema is more inspired by the past – “even the most recent, like yesterday,” she adds. She also cites artists like Ancco (also known as Choi Kyung-jin) and Stephanie Mendoza (whom she’d met in Japan) as those that she relates to wholly, as well as various fashion designers such as Jenny Fax. With these components at hand, Ema tends to work in her bedroom where she feels most connected with her emotions. “It’s where I feel safe and I haven’t felt the need to find another place to work in.” Then she draws predominantly with coloured pencils, feeling they give her the most control. “I’m interested in the process of creating something and not being able to undo it, like you would digitally,” she says.

A recent commission sees Ema illustrate the album cover for Waterdornrobotroute’s CD, Cracked. Inspired by the title and what “cracked” connotes, her work steers towards a mix of “sweet and unstable” as her concept. “I photographed objects of porcelain that I saw in Japan and I drew them like they were cracked.” Interestingly, she subconsciously brought to life a character that she feels represents herself “in that state”, a moment where she felt “shaken up”. Additionally, the piece features plenty of white space – absent from any type of background – which is characteristic of her entire portfolio and artist aesthetic.

As a whole, Ema’s work is visually pleasing to the eye, yet once you peel back the top layer it seems to reveal a much deeper and emotive context hidden behind it. “What I do is create an outlet for my emotions and try to create a fun space that’s different from reality,” she says. “I hope that people see themselves in it – I want it to be a space for their emotions, but they don’t have to feel the same things I do.”

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