Emily Conroy recently graduated from University of Leeds during her time studying textile design she gradually found her voice whilst everyone was concentrating of fashion or interiors Emily saw an opportunity and pursed the creative processes of luxury toy making.
Emily, Your decorative soft toys for adults are interesting to say the least, Tell us a bit more about them?
My decorative soft toys seem to have been destined to arrive at some point in my textile design world. I have made soft toys from being a young child and they have continued to evolve throughout my life. At University the ‘norm’ was fashion or interiors and I eventually forced myself to dare to be different and I chose to focus on high-end soft toys for collectors. As my chosen pathway was structured textiles, specialising in embroidery it was always going to be of paramount importance. I chose feathers as my theme for the embroidery on the soft toys, the repetition, reflection, form and texture combined to create various stitch types.
The range consists of cute little bunnies and bears, will this expand to different species in the future?
There’s a possibility for anything, who knows what’s around the corner. I have definitely thought about it and I imagine it will happen at some point in the future.
How important do you think it is to do what makes you happy in life? You quoted in an interview that this is something your mum once told you. Has this advice served you well so far?
I believe it’s the best way to live your life, do whatever makes you happy! If you’re stuck in a repetitive job you have to complete day in, day out that you hate, you wouldn’t enjoy all aspects of your life. Who wants to live an unhappy life? The advice has served me well so far, throughout my education I chose subjects on whether I enjoyed them or not. This has led me to earning a degree and the beginning of my business! I love making the soft toys, so my main focus now is to get them noticed even more!
Are there any other artists that you look up to?
From a young age I have loved soft toys, as I have got older I have focused my collection on traditional collector teddies mainly from Teddy Hermann and Steiff. The craftsmanship in every toy amazes me, the limited edition certificates and all the attention to detail has impacted my work dramatically. Various Instagram makers also inspire me daily, their individuality and pride in what they make allows me to feel similar emotions as I focus on advertising and developing my own work.
You seem to use a wide range of textures in your work, talk us through that?
The theme for my embroidery is feathers, therefore the textures have stemmed from this. The contrast between harsh wool fabrics and the light textured embroidery is taken from my visual research. I have created photos where I compare harsh materials such as ice with the feathers creating shapes and contrasting textures. This is transferred into a range of stitch types that create texture and shape in various ways.
What does the future hold for Emily?
In the near future I have been selected by Arts Thread to exhibit at Handmade at Kew from the 6 – 9 October. I am really looking forward to it, as it will be the first exhibition I have done where I won’t know anybody! This means it’s more of a challenge and it gives me more of a chance to meet new people and see their incredible talents. I am also exhibiting some of my work in an exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in Bradford 10 December 2016 – 7 May 2017. This exhibition is craft based, focusing on Animals, exhibiting work from local artists mainly from Yorkshire. Other than these I am going to continue working on my social media platforms, some commissioned work, magazine entries and trying to get some of my work in local boutiques. Generally just trying to get my work noticed!