Emma Russell

Emma Russell's illustration blog

Tag: design

“Why I bought my daughter heroin” for BBC magazine

Some editorial illustrations for the BBC, illustrating a sad and amazing story of a family struggling to help their daughter cope with a drug addiction. You can read it here.

I made one lead illustration:

And six smaller illustrations to be spread throughout the story:



The initial brief for the main image was to illustrate the scene when the mother, in desperation, drives her daughter to buy drugs, but the focus changed slightly and it became the daughter suffering in withdrawal and the mother trying to soothe her. It made for a more simple image. It also needed to be clear enough to be easily understood when reduced down as a promotion on the main BBC News page. I wanted to make the best use of the “widescreen” landscape canvas, so standing figures or figures seated upright on a chair or bed wouldn’t work. The most effective option seemed to be for them to be seated on the ground. I made a pieta-like composition to both utilise the width of the layout and because the reflection of mother grieving over a child that it carries fitted well.

March meet the maker

I’m doing the Instagram challenge “Meet the Maker” this month. It was invented by Joanne Hawker as a way to tell the story of your designer maker business. It’s so much fun seeing everyone’s workplaces, process and faces!

Day 1 – You

Day 2 – Favourite to make

Day 3 – Workspace


Day 4 – Tools

Day 5 – Boomerang

I’m not sure how to place a Boomerang so here’s a link to it!

Day 6 – Raw materials

Day 7 – How it’s made

Day 8 – Where

Day 9 – Work in progress



Little Free Library for swimming pool

Here is another Little Free Library, my third one, this time for Runnymede Swimming Pool in Essex. They asked for a swimming theme which I really enjoyed putting together. I painted a synchronised swimming team on each side, a happy floating man with his belly sticking up on the back and a pattern of assorted swimmers on the top, complete with a little dog doing doggy paddle. I’ve been a bit tardy posting this as it was erected in September last year! I hope it’s still being enjoyed by all the visitors.




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I think these characters would make a lovely pattern, especially as something like a gift wrap.

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I think the character in the spotty bathing suit was my favourite to draw:


Although I really liked this guy too!

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Here is a page from my sketchbook with some of the original drawings:

swimming pool

You can see the library in situ on Little Free Library’s twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/LFLProject/status/641586876793679873

Secret 7″

I didn’t make the show for Secret 7″ this year.  They received 7000 entries so I don’t feel too bad about this especially as I was really pleased with the pieces I drew – sleeves for At Last, Worry and Dream 3.  http://secret-7.com/

Emma Russell At Last low res  Emma Russell Worry low res dream 3

Being my own client! Wedding save the dates

It’s fun to have a project that’s close to your heart and it doesn’t get much closer than my own wedding.

It turns out I’m a very easy client, it’s almost like I knew what was inside my head! My fiance was entirely relaxed about it apart from not fancying the script font I’d picked out for the words Save the date. A “no fake curly writing” rule has been applied. I was happy to use a more scuzzy, urban font instead. The ceremony will be in the middle of a city and it will be a fairly non-traditional wedding so this feels right.

I chose fresh, sweet colours to reflect the early summer date and our reception being near the green airiness of a large park. Hand made textures seemed important for a sense of the rustic handmade. I made some textures with my printing rollers and various sorts of paper and stencil, then overlaid everything in Photoshop. Collectively it’s a gentle hint at what the day will be – summery, London-y, a little bit rustic, non-traditional.

And here it is. Names changed to protect the innocent!

save the date sample

interview in Creative Digest

Creative Digest talked to me about adventure, determination and why twisty isn’t necessarily bad! You can have a look here


rabbit hearted girl


The Phone Call got nominated

Now that The Phone Call has been Oscar nominated for the best live action short film category, it turns out that the Academy will keep a copy of the poster I designed in their archives. That’s pretty cool!

Adobe Photoshop PDF




Following on from the last blog post, here’s some more of the progress photos of the bagsie project with Soapbox & Sons and Jonathan Knowles.

The previous post showed work on a 2D version, but I then went to work on a 3D version.  As you can see in the process of making it my desk becomes more and more chaotic! The photo shoot with the finished article was yesterday. There are 10 artists taking part being photographed yesterday and today.  Have a search on Twitter for #BAGSIE and see the exciting behind the scenes pictures from Jenny Theolin and Emma Taylor.   I can’t wait to see the photographs. 

Here I’m modelling the head to make a series of nets to build the final product.   You can see the paper mache base that I made underneath (the half sphere) which acts as a framework for the whole thing.

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I removed these pieces and used them as templates to cut and score the coloured paper, then folded and glued them onto the hard paper mache base.

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Here’s the nearly completed head.  After this the long paper section at the top rolls back in on itself to make a curve.

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At this stage the bird is a sort of standalone mask!



Next was working the bird into the bag so it looks like it is busting out through the front.



My partner took some snaps the morning before I went for the photo shoot…  Still in my pjs (#^.^#)  Here you can see the paper bits of bag cut to make it look like the bird has explosively shoved her head through the bag.

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Medicine sloe gin

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I made these labels for our home-made sloe gin.  The style guidelines given by my other half (tough client!) were minimal and victorian.  It isn’t a commercial product of course, they’re to give to our friends so all the usual legal blurb was unnecessary, the little labels only needed a description and some “pretty”. The numbers relate to the different batches we made.



a little juniper repeat pattern

i’ve been working on a gin label, i think it’s had an effect!

here’s a watery one too