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15th September 2016

Q&A: Emily Forgot, Neverland

Graphic artist Emily Alston (better known by her professional moniker Emily Forgot) is the latest creative to exhibit at KesselKramer’s hybrid gallery and agency space KK Outlet. Located in Hoxton Square, KK Outlet will play host to Emily’s Neverland show until 30 September. 

Exposing her audience to a previously private side of her work, Neverland allows visitors to the show to explore Emily’s love of architectural spaces and a playful worlds that embraces tactile design with a suitably surreal narrative.

We spoke to Emily to get a unique insight into her latest work. 

You work with a lot of really interesting commercial clients, what made you want to do something more personal and subjective?
I love working commercially, especially when the project requires an element of creative problem-solving and the client and their brief fit well with my own sensibility. I find the challenge of creative concepting and researching really fulfilling but at the same time it’s nice to break the cycle, as not all my commissioned projects allow me the creative freedom I enjoy. Working on self initiated projects is something I have done on and off for the last twelve years and has often resulted in a more personal explorative approach to my work, which in turn results in collaborations with clients on projects that feel more in-line with the direction I want to take my work.

Neverland sees you venturing into process and material exploration that you haven’t undertaken before, what inspired this?
Again, with Commercial work time pressures and constraints often mean experimentation stays at the door and tried and tested methods and styles are more often than not repeated. When I become my own client these constraints no longer exist in the same way and experimentation becomes a much larger part of the process. So much of my work is digital and I purposely wanted to slowdown for this show and despite much of the initial planning being done on my computer where I know I can generate ideas quickly there are no digital pieces in the show, I used the opportunity to feel less dominated by technology and set up a desk ...and the floor in the end… just for painting, drawing and sticking …the fun corner so to speak. It helped to get me back in touch with that idea of making for joy, not for money, not for a client , but for pure pleasure. Its something I definitely want to integrate in my current practice more regularly.

What made you want to turn your sketchbook-bound ideas into something more tactile? Was it part of a psychological process for you?
As a designer, like most creative people, ideas often pop into my mind and are written down but left unfulfilled - forgotten until you have a clear out and discover a notebook with some scribbles and thoughts that never manifested themselves. Lack of confidence, lack of time, lack of money. Whatever the reason I just thought now was as good a time as any, there is always a reason not to do something. I think for me the timing just felt right, I actually owe a lot to my friends in a book group I attend, its kind of like an AA meeting for creatives. Talking about your creative goals and aspirations out loud definitely triggers something in you, and once you set things in motion doors seem to open.

Where does your passion for buildings and space come from? How has it shaped your vision? 
It seems strange but it is something I have always had an interest in, not in the same way of course - I wasn’t a weird five year old obsessing over Carlo Scarpa and asking to go on holiday to Le Corbusier’s cité radieuse - but buildings (and inventions) were often my chosen subject matter when I just sat down to draw as a child. When I was 12 I was also allowed to decorate my own room, suffice to say once I was finished sunglasses were advisable and it was horrendous, but at an early age I was thinking spatially and like many people do with fashion, expressing my self though objects I collected and my personal space. When I started getting window installation work commercially it felt like a great fit for me and that has slowly filtered into further projects where thinking and working in 3 dimensions is required. When it came to the show I wanted to create something that indulged these passions but still had my illustrative practice at its core. 

Creative industries are often considered to be more emotionally fuelled than others, is there an increase in emotional intensity when your projects become more subjective and less commercial, or is the creative process similar? 
I often see graphic design as the colder, less emotional creative discipline (with some exceptions of course!). I suppose it has this practical nature to it that appeals to me and we can often hide behind someone else’s cover so it feels less exposing than other creative disciplines. After a while of communicating other people’s projects and dreams a hankering to do your own manifests itself but it was never my goal to be an artist, I enjoy the feeling of a new brief too much. I went about planning the show it in a similar way, setting clear parameters from the start, drawing roughs, editing and developing etc.

How did you end up collaborating with Ceadogan? How have you found working with them?
Well, initially I was going to use a traditional Portuguese weaving technique but when this didn’t work out I asked around a few other places, namely you guys! You pointed me in the direction of Caedogan, who are also exhibiting during LDF. Denis was a dream to work with and the result is a beautifully soft woollen tufted rug, I couldn’t be happier! I also think this weaving technique suits the overall show a lot better.

Do you think collaboration has an important role within creative industries?
Without a doubt! Knowing your limitations and getting help to realise your ideas through production collaboration feels like such a fantastic process, as does collaborating with like-minded clients and other creatives with a similar ethos and imagination. Its seems to be more and more integral to my current practice. I worked with Charlie Mckenzie previously on a great summer project for the Wellcome Collection, so it was lovely to work together again for the show on the ladder chair. Recently I teamed up with Emmi Salonen on the Utopia Fair at Somerset House. It seems I can’t take on a job without collaborating these days!

Visit Emily Forgot’s Neverland at KK Outlet before 30 September.

Studio 3
De Beauvoir Block
92 De Beauvoir Road
N1 4EN

+44 (0)20 3735 5855