Emma-Jane Rule became a maker as a second career, a path that is not uncommon for artist and makers. We talked to her about her journey. She has been a member of Design-Nation since 2015.
Design-Nation: Where did you study and what course did you do?
Emma-Jane Rule: I did a foundation in Art & Design followed by a BA (Hons) Design Crafts at De Montfort University, Leicester.
DN: Are you still working in the discipline or material that you studied?
EJR: As I only graduated in 2015 aged 45, I am still establishing my metalworking business, this will be a lifelong project to learn the technical skills to become a master of my craft.
DN: If you didn’t work in the discipline you’ve chosen, what other discipline or material would you like to work in?
EJR: When I started the foundation course I thought that I would be working with textiles. I have also always loved lighting and thought that maybe I would take to glass blowing or glass casting. Luckily as soon as I was shown the metal workshop and foldforming in particular, all thoughts of other disciplines disappeared! As my degree was a contemporary craft course, mixing and experimenting with different techniques and media was actively encouraged. I still design with all media in mind, whether that is textiles, glass, wood or ceramics. I am currently working on surface designs which could be used as 2d products such as textiles, wallpaper or prints, or be used in my metalworking for etching designs or enamelling.
DN: How did your time at art school shape you as a person?
EJR: It allowed me the time to experiment and be free with my ideas, encouraged by all members of staff and workshop technicians. This has always been my rule of life and so this method of working sits very well with my personality and my lifestyle.
DN: What is your strongest memory from your time at art school?
EJR: Having the luxury to be creative and follow through with ideas and designs… or just to spend dedicated time employing a scatter gun approach to techniques and materials.
DN: How do you think creative education has changed since you were a student? Are you optimistic about creative education in the UK, or do you have concerns about the future for those wanting to study arts subjects?
EJR: Fees are off-putting for many people that have the talent to develop but not the resources. As a graduate from a mixed media course I have seen how expensive these courses are to run as having all workshops available for students is a high expense for a university, especially as there are so many courses closing across the country. However, somebody has to design the plates that you eat from and the patterns on your bedsheets. Design is in all areas of life and a world without that designed beauty would be a very bland and boring existence. There are paid positions you don’t have to follow the self-employed path.
DN: Knowing what you know now, what 3 pieces of advice would you give your student self?
EJR: It is never too late, go for it, prepare to fail but be prepared to learn from your mistakes. It is a marathon not a sprint but it is also the most rewarding and fulfilling way to live a life as a Creative. Expect pain and disappointment but do not give up, the stress and looming deadlines will drown you occasionally, but that is the learning curve. Believe in yourself when you think that you are rubbish…you really are not!
Emma-Jane Rule is one of the Design-Nation members profiled in Hatch’19 at NCCD, an exploration of the art school experience and how to develop a creative career, on until 22 September 2019.