Today Emily Cole Ilustrations takes the reins of the Martha Lily Photography Blog. Over to you Emily!
How old you were when you started?
I started drawing in this style in my last year of University. I would have been 20 or 21. I started full time in my ‘gap’ year in 2013 so I would have been 21.
(I genuinely had to put my birthday into an age calculator once because I thought I was year younger than I was which doesn’t bode well haha!)
When did you realise it what you wanted to do full time?
I don’t think I ever considered that it could be anything more than a form of procrastination when I started. I drew because I enjoyed it far more than pretending I wanted to be an Architect. I think there was always something in the back of my mind that knew that Architecture wasn’t my dream despite doing well grade-wise.
I have always struggled a little bit with feeling embarrassed about the drawings. I am much better now but it can occasionally crop up again. It’s possibly more imposter syndrome now; I always think there are far FAR more talented Illustrators and I don’t deserve the opportunities I have had. That’s another story though.
The real turning point in the drawings becoming a ‘thing’ was when I emailed Horse & Hound with a drawing based on Nick Skelton jumping on the podium too early. They had asked for photos of the 2012 Olympics but for some reason I thought I would draw it. (To this day I still don’t know why.) They ended up sharing it on their Facebook page although the first I knew of this was when I had a message from British Showjumping asking if I could give them a call. It’s still one of the most surreal moments. They wanted to buy a copy which then proceeded to them working with me. One thing lead to another but I was still working in an Architecture practice and drawing late (2am or 3am!) into the evenings. I remember sitting at the dining room table with my Dad and he said that I had to make a choice as it wasn’t fair on myself or my employers if I tried to do both – I was exhausted.
I told my boss the following week what was going on and they could not have been more lovely. They made something so terrifying less daunting.
What is a regular day for you work wise?
It’s quite nice working for yourself because you don’t have to do a conventional day. Most mornings I take myself to the Gym: mainly because if I don’t I would never exercise and secondly because I would never talk to anyone other than my Cat or Husband. (Even though I love both of them a lot.)
I have recently, (well before Covid happened!) moved into an office space away from the house. I don’t always have a structured regime but the more the business has grown the less I get to draw and the more admin I have to do. A drawing can take a few days to complete so I will work on it for a bit in between emails and other admin.
I have recently been having my friend come in and work for me and pack orders. (She often tells me off that I am not efficient enough or doing things the wrong way.) She also brings her two dogs so at some point we are usually trying to hold the furniture down as the Dogs and Cat are running loops around the office.
What inspires you?
Most inspiration comes from a combination observation or personal experiences. I don’t have a Horse of my own but I have had some amazing friends and family who have given me lots of different opportunities. I do struggle with creative block so I will often take myself off to spend some time with some Ponies and will always come back with an idea.
What excites you about your work; what do you enjoy drawing most?
If I think I have a really strong idea or something topical that is when I am most ‘productive.’ (I am not sure if that is word I mean though!) I work well under a bit of pressure! I always enjoy colouring in the eyes as that always liven up the drawing.
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Martha is an acclaimed equine photographer based in Shropshire specialising in Equine Portraits and Rural Branding.
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