Emily Brooks Millar
Why do a self directed interview?
Maybe I’m compulsive or love the sound of my own voice but there’s something a little freeing in not having to over explain niceties. I pride my work on having a sense of humour, and who’s interested any more in formal academic art chat? On occasion, it feels cathartic to have a moment shouting into the void. We’re all having long lasting conversations with ourselves right now, so I thought I’d document one.
So then, give us the basics.
I’m Emily Brooks Millar and I’m a 22 year old Illustrator living in Glasgow, Scotland. I’m a proud art school reject that believes in putting work out there without hesitation.
Why do you believe that art education is not for every artist?
I currently study Medicinal History, with a focus on Disability and Chronic Diseases. Academically, this was definitely the right choice for me. I believe creative institutions can really impact the confidence and prospects of so many artists, with misplaced funding and often lack of opportunity. Of course, each artist is different and education is a privilege, but I passionately feel that artists need normal life experience and encouragement to monetise. The tone of my work tends not to fit these structures.
With that in mind, do you think you feel the need to make people laugh with your work?
There’s the classic reason of using humour to process past frustrations or sadness but I also grew up around dramatic storytelling. I was surrounded by comic books and Vic Reeves/Bob Mortimer esque entertainment. I’m also in love with a Comedy and Horror writer; for all we are both very laid back people, Kris and I love big reactions to our creations. Comedy is a really rewarding way of gaining that. In some ways, being an illustrator can be a lonely profession, and making others laugh is both attention seeking and a form of connection.
How have you maintained that connection during the pandemic?
I’ve recently launched my second home exhibition ‘window shopping’ and having the challenge of limited space/resources has been somewhat refreshing. This looks at the ritualistic nature of our current circumstances in a pulpy package. Social media is brilliant for meeting like minded people, despite the issue of not being able to have a tangible event. Especially during this period, I feel it’s very important to be as honest as possible- putting all ideas out there whether refined or not.
Are you then ever afraid of your insecurities being on display?
At first with social media, I never had my face presented with my work. I wanted to let it speak for itself, and there’s a thin line between attempting to be an Instagram Influencer and a one woman business. When I was younger, I was also in a very unhealthy relationship, and you don’t realise how aspects of that dynamic stick with you in later life when putting yourself forward. A few years ago I adopted the approach of putting everything out there, warts and all. Some pieces really hit and others completely miss, but the only consistent comment that ever irks me is about the size of my little raccoon-like hands! For me, they’ve allowed intricate sewing of many dolls and garments.
Yes I can see from your site that you have recently worked on apparel, tell me more about that.
I’ve always loved fashion and illustration lends itself very well to that. There’s nothing warmer than knowing other people take pride in your pieces and are happy to show them off to the world. I also strongly stand by keeping everything I work with sustainable, often reworking unused items. There’s definitely more to come.
Have you got anything else on the horizon?
I’m always planning for the next in person exhibit and I’m incredibly excited for the day to come. Kris and I are also working on a children’s horror graphic novel, with him writing and myself illustrating. This is in the final stages and will be announced through my social media at a later date!