She draws inspiration from the world around her while mixing her aesthetic with ‘90s nostalgia and dreamy sci-fi landscapes. We asked Emily about her creative practice and how her experience as a womxn informs her work. Here’s what she had to say:

Emily, you’ve lived in great cities—from Portland to Seoul, London, LA, and now NYC. How has living in each place with its unique culture informed your creative outlook?

My favorite author, Neil Gaiman, has talked about having a compost pile of inspiration in his arsenal—everything he sees or experiences goes into a big compost pile that he uses to grow his own ideas. For me, travel makes up a large portion of my compost pile! I just eat up any cool experiences to be had, and I love meeting new people who have a different perspective on things. I’m not sure which is more true, though—that my openness to new cultures/experiences drives me to live in different places, or that living in different places makes me more open! Either way, I carry a little piece of those cities with me always.

Emily Suvanvej

Illustration by Emily Suvanvej

Emily Suvanvej

Illustration by Emily Suvanvej

How does your identity as a womxn inform your work?

I’m sure I have more feminine sensibilities when it comes to color and detail, but I do try not to inject too much of my gender identity into my work. I’m not much of a character designer, so it’s easier for me to stick to abstract backgrounds, shapes, and scenes that don’t necessarily have a gender.

Who is your favorite artist?

Jean Giraud! Manshen Lo! Eizin Suzuki!

How do you train your creative muscle?

Creative fulfillment is super-important to me, so I try to create something just for myself (not for a client or work) every single day. Whether it’s just a sketch or something bigger, keeping that momentum fuels my creativity and boosts the quality of my work! And it also just makes me happy.

Emily Suvanvej

Photograph by Emily Suvanvej

Emily Suvanvej

Photograph by Emily Suvanvej

How do you navigate anxiety about work?

This is such a tough one. I don’t think I navigate it very well, actually, and I often get stuck in the storm. I have terrible impostor syndrome, so I try to push the negative voices away and keep going in spite of them. At some point I’ve learned to run on blind faith in my abilities, and take consolation in the fact that I SO enjoy what I do. I love that I push things as far as I can, that I have a good eye and a huge range of skills, and I love that I’m full of ideas. Clinging to these things and reminding myself of them from time to time definitely helps quiet the voices.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Sometimes your first idea isn’t the best, so don’t force it and don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. When you think maybe you’ve pushed a concept to its max, set it aside and do another pass.

Emily Suvanvej

Illustration by Emily Suvanvej

Emily Suvanvej

Illustration by Emily Suvanvej

What is one way that we can make work human?

Relatable ideas! Creating concepts with heart and intention that strike some chord in the viewer is so important in design. Anyone can make a pretty picture, but it must have an idea behind it to be successful.

How do you overcome a creative rut?

My creative ruts are usually caused by me overthinking and putting unnecessary pressure on myself, so I start by trying to let that pressure go. The perfectionism I tend toward is actually counterproductive to my creativity, so it’s a constant battle. But once I learned to do this, my momentum shot up and I started creating better work than I ever did before!

What message do you have for womxn in the creative community?

This is a beautiful time to be a womxn in a creative field. We’re still swimming against a strong current, but things are only getting better and better—and all the communities like Ladies Who Create are strengthening our cause! As long as we keep supporting each other and lifting other womxn up, soon we’ll shatter those stubborn systems that are holding us back. And they won’t even know what hit ‘em.

Emily Suvanvej

Photograph by Emily Suvanvej

Emily's work inspires us to think about the new and nostalgic all at once. We hope you enjoyed reading her story.

To learn about other creative womxn, request a personal copy of Feminist Propaganda, a new magazine by Ladies Who Create.

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