[ About Jess ]

Jessica Emmett bio pic 2018I am a UK designer toy maker, illustrator & artist based in Singapore. I have a diverse creative background having started out initially as a conceptual photography & video artist. Now I make designer toys and illustration.

Education – Photography & Video Art

I did a (BA) Photography degree and a (MA) Media Arts Masters (with distinction) at Manchester Metropolitan University. My early conceptual work explored my experiences of being transracial adopted through my adoption [Adoption Art] often in the form of digital photography & video with performance elements.

Early Career

After university I went on to become a freelance artist. In my early career I was involved in a number of exhibitions/screenings, residencies, schemes and training. Most noticeably a Whisper residency & Chinese Professional Artist Development (PAD) scheme at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) (formally the Chinese Arts Centre) (2006), a two year business art scheme called the The Setting Up Scheme (2006-2008). I was also the winner of the My Life in the News documentary for NOISE Festival (2006) which I won a two day work experience at the BBC in London and was one of the artist representatives at the opening of the 2008 NOISE Festival that took place at Downing street, London. I have had work and writting published in three adoption anthology book collections, Pieces of MeMore Voices & Chosen – Living with Adoption, and had a video screened as part of the Touring Trans-cultural Adoptee Films’ (2009) in Australia. Go to the [Key Works CV] page for a list of other works I’ve been a part of.

Design, Community & Adoption work

In 2008 I moved away from my conceptual art to general [Design & Freelance] work which mainly was illustration, branding/logo design and website building/design.

I also become more involved in [Community] projects. I did talks/panels where I spoke and answered questions about my experiences of being a transracial adult adoptee. I also planned & led art workshops, mainly with adopted kids/teens/families or people that have an East Asian connection, ranging from simple crafts to custom themed workshops. I become involved in a number of international adult adoptee groups and projects, notably I am the founder and artist of Adopted the Comic (2009-2013), Website Designer & Advisory Network Member of Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) and  Website Designer & Advisor of the Hong Kong Adoptees Network. I have done talks & workshops in the UK, Ireland and Hong Kong. I really love my community work and all the wonderful people that I have met so far.

Illustration

In 2011, adoptive mum Karine Jones had seen some of Adopted the Comic and knew about me from one of my talks. She asked me to illustrate the Thai language education book idea she had and thought that I would be an ideal collaborator. I end up not only illustrating the whole book, but also designing the layout and typesetting it ready for a commercial printers. In 2013 the Learn Thai – Through Stories, Grammar & Exercise was printed! I was amazed that I was able to produce the book to a high quality and realised that illustration was something I passionately wanted to do full time! I started out doing mainly digital illustration.

You can see examples of Adopted the Comic and of the Learn Thai book in the [Illustration] section.

Singapore

I moved to Singapore in 2015 due to my husband’s work. I was lucky enough to be granted permission to freelance here. Singapore has been great for my art and the start of my exploration into traditional mediums. My time in Singapore really has nurtured a massive artist growth for me. I started a webcomic in collaboration with my husband (a neuroscientist) called Mad Scientist Cat so we decided booth at Singapore Comic Con (formally STGCC) in 2017…

Designer Toys

… I had amused that all the toys at the cons were made by factories. So when the designer toy maker in the booth next mine at the 2017 con informed me that he made them himself buy resin casting it blow my mind! I thought well if he can, maybe I can too so I gave it a go and haven’t stopped since! I still continue to do illustration, but designer toys has just been a natural evolution to my illustration work… a new canvas to illustrate. 

Final Thoughts

I arrived at illustration in a more unconventional way than usual, but my varied creative background gives me a very holistic approach to my work and commissions. I’ve also collected a lot of skills along the way, including photography, video filming & editing, digital illustration, watercolor, ink drawings, preparing books & art for commercial printers, simple website creation, sculpture to name a few. I am driven by creative exploration and always updating and learning skills.

I am a very passionate and hard working person who has many questions about the world, probably stemming from my curiosity of [My Adoption Story]. I feel there is so much fascination in the world and in people. I feel very lucky that I can work in a field that lets me observe and connect.