Artist Profile: Emma Wiesenekker

Maybe I am a bit biased because I live and work here, but it truly seems like Australia is jam packed with insanely talented folk. The range of artistic styles, methods, mediums and visions is forever blowing me away. One of my favourite Australian artists is Emma Wiesenekker, a Melbourne based visual artist and illustrator. Graduating from NMIT in 2013 with a degree in Illustration, Emma has already has an impressive list of exhibitions and features under her belt, including a variety of incredible group shows across Melbourne’s best galleries. 

I was lucky enough to have a little chat to Emma about her obsession with bugs, her pup and art revelations.

Hey Emma! Thank you for being part of an artist profile with On Jackson Street, I am a big fan of your work and it’s a pleasure to get to chat to you. Can you start by telling everyone a little bit about yourself?

I’m in my 20’s, I like to paint and draw and hang out with my dog. I owe my last name, as well as my passionate love of cheese, to my Dutch family. A relative told me once that it meant ‘beautiful meadow’ but then when I asked an exchange student she said ‘it just translates to grass…like for farmers’.

What is your earliest memory of creating?

Horses and dolphins. 

You create a lot of beautiful monochromatic pieces that focus on insects and animals, what is it about these subjects and forms that intrigues you?

I love critters. Grew up in the bush where there wasn’t much to do except collect bugs in jars and poke dead things with sticks. And that’s still a hobby of mine today.

What are a few items in your workspace that are integral to your productivity?

My macbook, my little jungle, my white pens and Payne’s grey.

I find that at any given time, I am focusing on at least three or four things in my life that are inspiring me to create / influencing what I am creating. What are some things that are helping you to make at the moment?

My dog! Seriously look at him, I’m obsessed.

He gives me such a great routine of getting up early, going for a long walk and then sitting down to draw. Also, the first part of this year has been pretty quiet for me and sometimes I think it helps to take a break and spend a bit of time assessing the work you’re making, so that you don’t get stuck in a rut producing the same thing over and over again. At the moment I’m getting the ball rolling on a show with my very talented friend Bonnie Eichelberger called Deep Fields which will happen at Off the Kerb gallery later this year, and I’m excited! I always learn a lot during time spent with Bonnie, and I love having exhibitions to work towards. 

The high contrast and tonal values in your illustrations are beautiful – so simple but insanely effective – how has your style progressed since you started and how do you hope it will continue to evolve?

Thanks! I think my style changed radically and is gradually becoming a little darker as the result of maturing out of my teens. With that came more confidence in my work and caring less about trying to fit in with illustrative trends. The main thing is I have to be happy and fulfilled with the work I am making. If other people enjoy it too than that’s an added bonus. That was a great revelation…

What is your proudest moment?

My proudest moment and huge learning experience was a group show called Chinpin I that I curated with my pals Allegra Mee and Emily Hassel in June last year. I’ve never done something as big as that and it was awesome having so many amazing creative people involved in the show.

Can you curate and share a short playlist that is ideal for understanding Emma Wiesenekker?

A few oldies.
Bette Davis Eyes – Kim Carnes
Bird on the Wire – Leonard Cohen
That’ll Be the Day – Buddy Holly