Interview with Illustrator, Emily Wren

By: Emily Maybanks

Living and working in Basel, Switzerland, Emily Wren is a freelance Illustrator and has recently illustrated a short story in Popshot’s recent Romance issue – an illustrated magazine of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. She graduated with a first class degree in Illustration from Falmouth University, in the UK. I caught up with Emily to find out more about her life and work as an Illustrator.


In Emily’s words: “I am constantly thinking up characters I want to illustrate, sometimes inspired by films or books and other times by people I see on the street.”

What made you want to study Illustration at University?

I wanted to study illustration as soon as I discovered that you could be an Illustrator, when I was about 13.

Furthermore, what did your Illustration degree involve? How has it helped you in your career?

My degree taught me a good way to structure a project and lots of useful techniques for generating ideas. It involved practical modules like life drawing and visual studies, where we were encouraged to experiment a lot. We also learnt digital skills like Photoshop and there was also a theoretical part of the course where we learnt about art history and culture.

You have also had experience in graphic design – can you tell me more about that, please? What it involves, how you got into it, what software you have used etc.?

After graduating, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I decided to brush up on my graphic design skills, and I did a Typography course and taught myself a lot through experimentation and YouTube. I then applied for internships in graphic design and was offered one, which then lead to another. I used the Adobe Creative Cloud software, mainly Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.


A Speculative Editorial, inspired by an article in “Psychologie Heute” discussing the affects of alcoholism on our emotions.

You live and work in Switzerland – why did you choose Switzerland? Have you travelled a lot previously?

I grew up in Switzerland, my parents and my oldest friends live there, so it was more of a coming back home than being adventurous.

What does freelance illustration involve? Can you describe a ‘typical’ working day?

I can’t really describe a typical day. Some days I work from home, sometimes from a studio space in Basel. As well as illustrating I have a part time job at an escape room where I do graphic design and host games, I also do a fair bit of freelance graphic design work for an agency based in the same studio as me.

What inspires you in your illustration work?

Art materials, books, conversations with friends, animation; lots of things.


Editorial Illustration, discussing how reading literary fiction can improve our ability to empathise with others.

What’s the most valuable lesson you have learnt throughout your career, so far?

Get enough sleep and exercise.

What advice would you give to any aspiring/budding illustrators and/or graphic designers?

Be sure that it’s really what you want to do, because it isn’t easy, make sure you have a good network of friends and family to support you and don’t give up, but also remember that there is more to life than work.

What is your favourite illustration that you’ve worked on, and why?

I think my favourite illustration so far is the illustration of the entomologist (it’s on my Instagram and website). I am trying to be more conscious in my colour palette choices and I like how they work in this one.


“When I was little I wanted to be an entomologist, I think I imagined their work looking something like this.”

Check out Emily’s website here, or follow her on Instagram to see more of her work @emily_wren.

Do you have an interest in design and illustration? We are looking for creative people to help produce Waterfront. Please contact our Student Media coordinator, Iain Fisher, ‘’ for more info.


My favourite illustration of Emily’s – from her ‘Characters’ project.


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