Inspired by her latest designs Poppy Watt reaches out to illustrator Emma O’Brennan-Pizer to discover more about her wallpaper and home accessories brand Wilful Ink. All the designs use Emma’s hand drawn and painted illustrations. Using a mix of pen, ink and the most vibrant watercolours are used to create her unique designs.
Based in Saltdean, a strange little place on the outskirts of Brighton, the company was created out of the obsessive inkings of Emma O’Brennan-Pizer who was told by her father that she was a very wilful girl indeed.
Have you always had a keen interest in art Emma?
I have always loved drawing and painting. However, I never got on that well with art in an academic setting. I preferred being creative at home. I failed my art A level and didn’t think I was good enough to be a full-time artist.
I carried on drawing, but sporadically and only for myself.
What inspires your work?
The strangest plants and animals!
Victorian explorers also fascinate me. I’m so jealous that their world was so much more mysterious than ours.
I’m currently reading a book about the first gorillas seen by the Western world. (Which is an incredibly sad tale for the poor Gorillas)
Do you have a favourite subject matter?
I really enjoy drawing insects and reptiles. Colourful beetles, chameleons, and sea creatures are a joy to illustrate.
From your original idea and moving into production, how challenging was this for you?
Fairly challenging. It’s definitely a steep and expensive learning curve. Although, marketing and finance is a much harder part of my job.
Why do you support the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Rainforest Trust – What does this mean to you?
When my son Emilio was born with a serious heart condition I had to stop supporting the charities I had standing orders with.
I had no idea how long I would be off work for. In the end, we spent over half of his life in the hospital in the first year. My income was not at all reliable.
I still wanted to support charities so I decided that I could give a percentage of profits from certain designs. This way I was only giving money when I was making money. This took the pressure off!
The money is used to get the title deeds for lands for the indigenous tribes that live there. Without these, they have no legal standing to stop others from exploiting their land. The people who live there then in turn protect the forests and the habitats of endangered animals.
The Rainforests are such a vital part of our ecosystem. They are being destroyed at an alarming rate, which will affect the stability of the whole planet.
It’s true that we don’t inherit the planet from our parents; we borrow it from our children.
I want this world to be as beautiful and as safe as possible for my children. I want them to be able to see all the beautiful animals we have today and know they are still out there. Not extinct because of human greed.
When you purchase products from companies like Wilful Ink you are supporting creative British design and manufacture. Every product is made in the UK and no sweatshops are ever used.
It is people like us that enable artists to keep on making, so a heartfelt thank you from Emma to anyone that buys products, shares posts or spreads the word about Wilful Ink’s designs.