I occasionally post personal posts on my Instagram page relating to my art work, my process or my mental health as I work through pieces that inspire it.
One of my earliest personal posts was a brief introduction of who I am and what makes me me, so I thought I would expand on me as a person, my artists direction and a few little gems from my personal life, just in case you want to know!
My name is Emma Pryce. I am (very almost!) 29 years old and I live in the rural countryside of Herefordshire, England, nestled along the Welsh Boarder. I currently live in my parent's home with my two of my brothers (my older one has his own family now!) and our dog, Doug. He is a border collie and I love him more than life itself!
I always knew I wanted to study art. When I started at secondary school, I was already sure that I would go on to go to art college, and I was fortunate enough to have the Hereford College of Arts just a train commute away from my hometown. After doing well in my GCSEs, I still decided to go to 'drop out college' as it was coined and embarked on a BTEC National in Art and Design and an A Level in Photography. I had originally gone with the intention of studying textile design but, as the year when on, I realised I enjoyed Graphic Design a lot more and so specialised in that. After my gap year, I moved to Sheffield to start my BA Hons in Graphic Design at Sheffield Hallam.
Gabrielle, Milki (still my best friends) and me - centre - during a project at art college
University was a very difficult time for me. I had been struggling with depression and anxiety for most of my teens, and the impact of moving away from home was a big shock. I got involved way more in the social side of university and my studies were pushed onto the back burner while I tried to deal with new friendships, new emotions and a new environment. The more I stayed away from lectures, the more anxious I felt about going, so much so I just stopped completely. My anxiety became so bad that I failed to attend most of my first year and had to defer all my modules, which I completed over the summer. I went into the second year with high hopes for a higher attendance, but the same thing happened.. I was too overwhelmed by being around my classmates and the workload felt impossible, so I kept away from the university buildings once again. Thankfully, the staff were extremely understanding, letting me defer my studies into the summer again and arranging for me to see a counsellor.
University work c. 2009
Kate Willcox, wherever she may be now, was an absolute godsend and changed my whole perspective on life forever! I was in sessions with her for almost two years and she helped me through a course of CBT which helped me cope more with my irrational thoughts and social struggles that were stopping me from getting my education. However, after starting the 3rd year and starting to study my final chosen speciality, Illustration, I had one of the worst panic attacks I've ever had in my first week, I decided to put my studies on hold for a while until I felt I could complete them to the best of abilities.
I moved to Manchester, worked a job I hated for a year as a manager of Clinton Cards, and became even more anxious and miserable. I decided to move back home to get some TLC and gain some perspective on my life. I had fallen out of love with art and being creative after it feeling like such a struggle whilst I was trying to study, but after being home with my mum, who is a textiles maker and generally creative soul, I set myself up as a freelance illustrator. I made myself a Facebook Page just the name Emma Pryce Illustration and started forcing myself to create work so I could post it online. I had never really shared my art work over the internet before so it was daunting, but people began to respond and I got a few small commissions from people, which helped to build my confidence again.
Commissioned work 2013-4
Working on windows at Tandem Bakery in Hereford 2015
I was still extremely anxious and miserable with my life. After 3 years of more jobs is hated and feeling like I wasn't achieving enough, I contacted my old college in Hereford to see about completing my BA. Unsure whether they would accept an ACTUAL drop out, and feeling apprehensive about the fact I was more 25 and going back into education, I was amazed when I was instantly accepted to study a one year Top Up course in Illustration. This would mean that, after the year was up, I could come away with a complete degree and finally graduate!
I couldn't have asked for a better year! I had an amazing small group of Illustration students with me and great tutors. One in particular, Mark, really encouraged me to do what I wanted and push myself out of my comfort zone to ensure that I achieved that. It was a testing year but I came out the other side with a 2:2, which I was so proud of! I never, ever thought that I would get a degree, so the fact I did it feel amazing and gave me a new found confidence, even though I absolutely hated my Final Major Project!
Graduating from Hereford College of Arts 2015
However, after graduating, I almost felt like a needed a break from being creative and didn't feel at all inspired to draw or make. I still did the odd commission here or there but never really felt any passion for it, it was more of a chore. I had asked one of my tutors at Hereford if I should go straight into studying an MA after my degree and she said 'no, go out, see the world a bit, volunteer, meet new people, decide what it is you really want to do'... and so I did!
Spread out over the next couple of year I travelled to Australia, Austria, Poland, Germany, Sicily and Malta, volunteering and holidaying, building my confidence, gaining my skills, discovering more and more about myself as I went. I farmed on a self sufficient farm in Austria for a month, taught English to teenagers in Malta, made jewellery from seeds in the hills of Avola, and went on the Neighbours Set Tour in Melbourne! Each trip I carried a sketch book with me and doodled my thoughts and feelings and writing down how I feel. I would recommend solo travelling to anyone who feels that they need to push themselves out of their irrational mind for a bit, as each journey was a step towards personal growth and self acceptance...
Sketchbook page from Austria 2017
Which is where I found my artistic direction. After years of trying to develop my style, I finally had sketch books full of doodles and sketches that unveiled my personal experiences which I felt comfortable putting onto paper and, as a bonus, was incredibly cathartic to do so. I started stitching my poetry onto fabric, drawing women with my diary ramblings next to them and trying to make my vulnerability into art. I knew that if I felt this way, other people must feel that way too! I has become almost essential for me to be creative everyday and a therapeutic act, to help unload what is in my brain and put it out into the world, letting it go. Of course, I like to do other artwork too, whether it be some ridiculous pun or some fan art, but predominately, my process is to create something positive from something that maybe started as a negative.
Mental health awareness is so much more accessible than it ever was these days and, as someone who has struggled with their brain for about 17 years, it's wonderful to be able to have an outlet through art and regain my passion for being creative. I am a firm believer of not being ashamed of your state of mental health, it doesn't define you, it is just a facet of ourselves which we are just trying to cope with on a daily basis. I am always really touched when someone feels they can open up to me because I have opened up to them. I chose to change my business name to emandtheearth as I felt it was a fitting title for my work.
I am currently working on personal projects relating to mental health and body positivity, with the hopes of studying my MA later this year so I can gain more confidence and guidance with my work and challenge myself even more.
emandtheearth logo 2017