My name is Emily Pillar, and I am a recent Illustration graduate from Winchester School of Art. I think it’s definitely fair to say that I don’t have one particular style of work as an illustrator, as I enjoy experimenting with an array of different media. I like to view each new project as a clean slate, so whether that means I work on paper, ceramics or with moving imagery, I tend to keep an open mind on how to go about translating what I want my illustrations to show.
What usually stays the same in my work is my subject area, which is usually a narrative. I love producing work that tells a story in a new and exciting way, and for my final major project, I decided to take on a few pieces of Victorian literature. I’ve always had an interest in history from a young age, so I love researching new projects to give my work a slightly different edge. When I chose to do my final project on mental health, I knew I had to tackle something that wasn’t stereotypical, but also something I found worth sharing. I’d recently read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which is a retelling of Antoinetta Mason’s story from Jane Eyre, which explains her background and mental decline. It completely changed my perception of the character, and I knew that that was something I wanted to share through my work.
I decided to take four characters from Victorian literature that have been shown to have mental illnesses. I’d read an article which had theorized the idea of Sherlock Holmes having Aspergers Syndrome, which inspired me to create the story of Sherlock Holmes investigating the cases of Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre, the unnamed narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, while also coming to terms with his own condition.
Dr Jekyll and Mr Holmes – Print
This was without a doubt the most challenging project I have taken on, with a very big subject area to come to terms with. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to completely conform to past interpretations of the characters as they are all so iconic in their own ways, so I started out by doing quick collages of scenarios that they could be in using 50s and 60s comic books and old magazine cuttings. I ended up loving the collages I’d produced and decided to develop them further, as I enjoyed the freedom of putting settings and characters together in a way that visually flowed.
Final Book Photo by Sum Of Parts
For my final piece, I screen-printed my chosen collages together to form a short story in a comic book style, collaging over the screen prints to help show how they were first created. I wanted the final piece to be a brief summary of what I have learnt from each character, adding a new insight into what each of them has been through, but also visually merging the historical with the contemporary.