Student Spotlight: Emma Louise Jones

Emma Louise Jones is a Graphic Design student at Manchester School of Art. She has crafted a playful and vibrant style to her designs, whether she is re-imagining Penguin Modern Classic novels or creating a typography piece. On her degree so far, she has worked on numerous collaborative projects, as well as leading many of her own. She created an awareness-raising piece entitled ‘Why sharks should be admired not feared’ to draw attention to how misunderstood the species is. The colourful booklet features her playful illustrations alongside facts and statements. She has also recently completed the personal project ‘Pouring my heart out,’ exploring her own anxieties and worries. Intrigued by her visual style and the ideas she has built projects around, we discussed it all with Emma herself.

What made you want to study Graphic Design at Manchester School of Art?

I’ve always been drawing and making things for as long as I can remember, so I knew that I wanted to study either Fine Art or Graphic Design but I could only choose one to study. I chose Graphic Design because I felt that this combined both the subjects together in a way, allowing me to explore both illustration and design and how they work alongside one another. I wanted to stay close to home, so Manchester School of Art seemed like a good option. I went to the open day and found that the work being produced was of high quality and the facilities available were really impressive. I also liked the structure of the course itself, which I felt would allow me to develop my style and grow as a designer and prepare myself for the future with the support and encouragement of the tutors.

My first attempt at screen printing today. Had to quickly draw something out and try printing it. Think it turned out pretty well ?

A photo posted by Emma Louise Jones (@emmalouise.jones) on

Where do you look for inspiration, and what or who inspires you?

I don’t get inspiration from one particular place to be honest. It comes from a matter of different places, at random times. I find a lot of inspiration online: Pinterest, Instagram and Behance but I also find it all around me; in things I see and interact with in the world. When it comes to who inspires me, at the moment a few artists that do are Louise Lockheart, Lauren Hom and Adam J. Kurtz.

What projects have you completed on your course?

I’ve done so many different projects in the time I’ve been on my course. I normally do around six projects a year so listing through them all would take a while… This year I did a whole project on my anxiety and how it affects me every day which was very personal to me but also helped me understand it a little more. I did another project on the topic of mental health, focusing around creating products that could be interacted with as a way to help people deal with depression, anxiety and stress in their daily life. In second year I did a whole project on how sharks are misunderstood, which I really enjoyed as I got to get across the true identity of sharks and showed how they should be admired and not feared.

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I love your project ‘Pouring My Heart Out.’ It has a lovely style, feels very personal, relatable and is about an important topic. Tell us more about it.

Over summer, we were given the task to record something in our lives. I recorded my worries due to my anxiety and created a small book about them… My anxiety is definitely something I have a love hate relationship with, although it’s definitely more hate than anything! But I wanted to display how it feels to live with it and how it’s a very uncontrollable feeling. The rough, hand made aesthetic is meant to represent this. It also allowed me to physically pour my heart out which I don’t do often, especially not in a place for the whole world to see.

Is there a piece or project of your own that you’re most proud of?

I think the project I’d have to say I’m most proud of so far is ‘Why Sharks should be admired not feared’. I love sharks and I wanted people to realise that they’re not this monster they’re portrayed as in films and media. They’re amazing creatures that are simply misunderstood. I created an illustrated risograph concertina book that had a slight childish feel to it, but is aimed at everyone. I really enjoyed making it and the end product is something that I’m actually happy with, which doesn’t happen often!

final book image

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just started on a personal project. This is the first time I’ve been given free reign… which is very scary! I’m quite used to structure in previous projects, but this is an exciting opportunity to create whatever I want. I want to create something I really enjoy and something that I’ll be happy to have in my portfolio. However what is it yet I don’t know. But I want to focus more on exploring my hands on skills (illustration, type etc.).

How do you think your creative style and abilities have developed while studying?

I think my style and abilities have developed a lot in this fairly short period of time, in a good way. It’s been a natural progression I think. I don’t really notice I’m changing that much until I look back to a few years ago and think wow, I really have improved. Obviously there’s always room for improvement but I feel that I’m slowly getting to where I want to be. I feel that in the past year my style has been coming through in my work a lot more, but I am yet to develop that fully. But thanks to everyone around me, I’ve had the encouragement to push myself and be more positive about my work. 

Messing around with letterpress today…need more practice

A photo posted by Emma Louise Jones (@emmalouise.jones) on


What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt on your degree?

Hard work is very important, but make sure you don’t work so hard that you neglect every other part of your life: sleeping, eating, socialising, relaxing. You need all these things to function properly otherwise it’ll catch up to you and you’ll burn out. It’s really not worth making yourself ill. Believing in yourself is another valuable thing I’ve learnt. I struggle with this a lot, I often feel that I’m not good enough because I’m looking at what everybody else is doing. But that doesn’t matter at all, what matters is what you’re doing! And if you’re doing what you love and you’re happy then you’re doing pretty damn well.

What do you want to achieve with graphic design? What do you want your work to say, and what kind of commissions do you want to work on?

This is a difficult one. In a nutshell, I want to create work that looks nice, has some sort of meaning (depending on the subject) and is something I’m happy with. I don’t think I quite know what I want to achieve yet, I’m still finding that out for myself to be honest.

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Do you have a dream project?

I don’t really have a dream project… but I have a dream for my future? I’d ideally be in a small studio that allows me to create work that I love every day. Somewhere that lets me inject some of my personality and style into the work I do. I want to be recognised rather than be lost amongst a big studio of people producing the same work. Hopefully I can find this one day. I just want to do what I love and be happy. Simple.

View more of Emma’s work at her www.behance.net/emmalouisejones5 or on Instagram.