Photos credit Jack Birtles
If you've been to Brisbane's Arch or Fish Lane you may already be familiar with some of Emily Devers' work. The multidisciplinary visual artist
has created a collection of high impact art all over the city as well as internationally.
Visiting Newcastle later this month as one of the guest speakers at this year's MAKEit MADEit Conference, Emily chats to us not only about her incredible art life but what else she has planned whilst visiting the city.
Can you tell us about your first memory of art or being art inspired?
"I've always been an easily inspired person, and I'm very easily excited! My early memories go back to when I was really little and would make my own 'craft
corner' at home. I used to love shows like Art Attack, and would try and copy all the activities myself, customising them to make them in 'my style'."
Finding your feet in the art world can be difficult, how have you navigated this?
"I'm such a believer that energy flows where energy goes. I put a lot of energy into my relationships, and this has really continued to help me out over
the years. I'm lucky that Brisbane is an incredibly supportive community, and if you show up to things and support other creatives...that karma rolls
around really quickly to support you. I know it's simple, but I also think that being genuine and authentic goes a long way."
Can you tell us about three key moments in your career to date that have helped get you where you are today?
"The first time I painted large scale was at a group exhibition in a small independent gallery that used to operate out of West End. I pitched it to the
curator and she let me go for it. Thinking back, it was an absolute fluke that she trusted me as I had no previous examples to show for it, but this
moment really propped my confidence and was the beginning for our creative studio Frank & Mimi.
"A career highlight for me was when I was invited to paint on behalf of Temple Children in Hilo, Hawaii - an arts and sustainability organisation which
fosters innovation by combining Visual Arts, food sustainability and environmentalism in small-scale activations. This was the first time I was invited
somewhere because of my socially conscious Arts practice, and the little town in Hawaii has really stamped a permanent spot in my heart.
"I would say a recent key moment has been the conscious shifting away from the studio towards an independent arts practice and giving my focus
to developing a contemporary art gallery here in Brisbane. I can already feel the effects of this, and I haven't even launched!"
Vibrance Festival - Hobart 2018
How do you keep the artistic ideas flowing, or keep that creative spark?
"Most of the time, it's full time. As in, I wake up with creative ideas, think about them, sketch them and write about them before I've even headed into
the studio. I'll spend the whole day there and then head home and think about it some more. However, there are those moments when creative thinking
clunky, and laboured. The moment it feels forced or unnatural, I'll remove myself from the situation and do something entirely different. Mostly
this involves getting out into nature - taking a walk, going for a run or being somewhere with limited digital stimulation. My dog's also a really
What kind of role do you think artists and creatives have in society?
"It's a big one. Addressing the major social, cultural and environmental challenges of our time requires a drastic shift in thinking. Art has forever,
played a pivotal role in this. It inspires, stimulates critical thinking, starts
dialogue and plays a therapeutic role for mental wellbeing. These are not small contributions. Artists are key to this transformation, change and
growth of our society. When we look back through history for an authentic reflection of a time, we always look to art."
Your work can be found all over Australia and overseas, which one has been the biggest challenge to create?
"I think the most challenging work was a live mural I painted at KABOO Del Mar - a bourgeois music festival for wealthy Americans, painting in front of
crowds of 30,000+ drunk people. I can't say I was super inspired, but it was a great opportunity to paint about something with an environmental focus."
You will be visiting Newcastle for the MAKEit MADEit Festival this July, have you ever visited Newcastle before?
"I have! I've visited Brett at Pocket Design, but am looking forward to getting cosy at Onwards Studio this time. I love Newcastle, and can't wait to check
in with everyone again."
As a part of your visit you will be working on a large outdoor art piece in Darby Street, can you drop any hints about what we can expect?
"This will be an abstract artwork reflecting my current style. I'm curious about the interplay between medium and expression, and travelling the intersection
between traditional painting processes and contemporary approach to mark making."
Who in the art world are you loving right now?
"Stefan Hunt - creator of We're All Going To Die Festival. This guy's an absolute genius who's creating positive change by fostering healthy conversation
around death through the arts. In the Western World this is huge, and I think he's really brave rallying the support of artists to diversify and strengthen
Outside of art what are your top five favourite things to do?
"Hang out with my doggo, visit the ocean, cook my own meals, drink really, really nice wine, and support other artists."
On our next visit to Brissy, what would you recommend we put to the top of our must-do list?
"Get to Wandering Cooks - they boast Brisbane's best in terms of sustainable food and local wine, and they're pioneering community food initiatives which
are literally affecting the way our city thinks about their food. Also, if you're visiting later in the year, I expect to see you at my gallery!"
With support from MAKEit MADEit Conference and Newcastle Now, Emily will be painting on Darby Street beside Jean Bas during the week leading up to the conference. Be sure to visit and see Emily's incredible work unfold.