We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Finnigan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, is there something you believe many others might not?
I always heard from artists that in order to improve on their work, one needs to draw every day. I think this puts a lot of pressure on artists to always be creating and never giving your brain a break. Feeling forced in this way has always hindered my creativity and stole any enjoyment from making art. In the world we currently live in, many people feel guilty about taking any time off and we feel we don’t deserve time it if we haven’t been productive enough. I don’t want people to be valued by how often they over work themselves. I usually only draw two or three times a week and I find that I’m able to work faster and smarter.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Even though I make it a point to avoid drawing every single day, that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to learn! I have immersed myself in historical fashion and I endeavor to learn something new daily. I find it incredibly intriguing how similar people back in to 19th century were to us today. We tend to think that the newest generation is the smartest and most evolved. But when one studies historical fashion, we find that not much has changed. And I love to study why clothes looked the way they did, why women wore corsets (and how they weren’t the death traps and female oppressors we now think they are). Understanding the origins of pigments and appreciating the delicate artistry of sewing is something that seems lost nowadays. It’s all so fascinating. Victorians were definitely a lot more inventive and efficient with their clothing than we are today. Because of this appreciation for history and understanding of the past, I have created so much work that I am proud of. I do not believe that one can be a character designer or costume designer of they don’t understand historical fashion. So often I see inaccuracies when it comes to styling an era and I think this should change. I tire of hearing people poke fun at the way people dressed in the past as proof that we know better today about what clothing should be and what it should do. The rise of fast fashion has taken out all elements of practicality, efficiency and style from clothing. My work explores the joy in dipping into the past as well as understanding and reckoning with it. The past wasn’t great for many reasons and for many groups of people. But clothing has always been a reliable portal to the past and I have always been eager to pass through it
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First of all I would take them to dinner in Old Town Pasadena. When I was a student at ArtCenter, going down Colorado Blvd. and having the burden of choosing from the incredibly diverse and delicious array of restaurants and bars was always both daunting and exciting. The turn of the century architecture and small town charm mixed with a vibrant nightlife is my idea of a good time. My favorite spots in Southern California are Carpinteria beach, Disneyland and Magnolia Ave. Carpinteria is the cutest little beach town in the state and is like a second home to me. Disneyland is never not a good time. Being an annual passholder meant I could head down to the park after class and have a drink and go on some rides. What could be better than that? Lastly, Magnolia Ave. in Burbank is a new obsession of mine. Since I have began to embrace my love for vintage fashion, Magnolia is a treasure trove of vintage boutiques. I still have so many I still need to go to and I am always in need of sometime to drag along with me. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My focus in my art has always been designing costumes. While I always loved the beautiful ball gowns of the Disney Princesses, the moment Avatar: The Last Airbender met my eyeballs, I was forever inspired. The layered garments, the way they were drawn and animated sparked my creative juices. The earliest sketchbook I have is full of outfit designs for the Avatar universe. I have even been redrawing these 12 year old sketches recently and it’s great to see how far I have come as a creator.