Yorkshire-born illustrator Emily Sutton has a charmingly detailed, whimsical style that perfectly suits the classic novels and children’s books that bear her cover designs.
Charles Dickens, Evelyn Waugh, John Keats and Richard Adams have all had a make-over by the 31-year-old from York.
But Emily is not just a dust jacket creator, she’s also a painter, printer, textile designer and sculptor.
A new exhibition, Town and Country, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park showcases her many talents and represents the culmination of a two-year association with the art venue. It is Emily’s largest solo exhibition to date and includes a number of works inspired by the West Bretton park and its wildlife.
Emily has found her skills to be in much demand since she graduated in illustration from Edinburgh College of Art. Her first major commission came from London’s V&A Museum, launching a partnership that has endured. She was asked to illustrate the museum’s first-ever book of children’s fiction, Clara Button and The Magical Hat, written by a former curator in fashion Amy de la Haye (now a professor at the London College of Fashion) and she is about to start work on the third in the series. She also illustrated a V&A non-fiction publication for children called Tiny, written by the former Really Wild Show presenter Nicola Davis, which focuses on the microscopic lifeforms such as diatoms.
Both commissions involved a lot of research and visits to the V&A. “That’s the thing with illustration,” says Emily, “it takes you down roads you never would have explored on your own initiative. It can be very interesting.”
As well as working for publishers, Emily has designed packaging for Betty’s Tea Rooms and Fortnum and Mason. She was also commissioned by fashion label Hermes to create works for an exhibition at The Royal Academy. She describes her style as traditional and is inspired by her love of old children’s book illustration - from the early to mid 20th century - in particular the Picture Puffin books and the work of artists and designers from that era including Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilous and Barbara Jones.
She explained: “I have always been very interested in detail and intricacy and this is carried through into my own image making. Another big source of inspiration is folk art- which I initially became aware of when I visited the Museum of American Folk Art in New York when I was a student. I found the colour, energy and playfulness of what I saw there really exciting and it definitely influenced how I approach making both images and my three dimensional work.”
Emily signed up to work with the YSP a couple of years back when her boyfriend, fellow illustrator Mark Hearld, held a show there and says it has taken a long time to amass enough work for such a large exhibition. Her work - from paintings and prints to a flock of embroidered song birds - can be seen in both exhibition spaces and the YSP shop until February 22, 2015.