My name is Emily-Jane Robinson and I'm 24 years old. I was born in Birmingham, England, but moved to Southern California with my family when I was 3 years old. My parents split a year after that and I grew up with my Mother. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 17 to attend UCLA and lived there until I made the decision to move back to London last year to begin my MFA at The Slade School of Fine Art.
My Mother was an interior and landscape designer and a painter. For many years of my early childhood, she was always painting watercolours. We travelled to many different parts of America together and throughout the city we lived, so she could photograph different things to paint. We visited the California Missions in their entirety, Vermont, New Mexico, the list goes on. She was the greatest influence in my life and she was undeniably an artist. I was incredibly lucky to grow up in a home where I was told that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I put my mind to it and believed in myself. It was also a home where being an artist was something that was celebrated and accepted as a legitimate and respected career path.
I think I've always been an artist, but I just wasn't always able to understand what that meant. It was a long time before I began calling myself that. That has only happened very recently. For years, I was taught in elementary and high school that you had to have the best and most refined technical skills when it came to drawing and painting to be an artist. What I didn't learn was that being an artist is really about feeling and seeing. It's a kind of hypersensitivity to the universe. We feel so much as artists and I think we are generally more conscious and aware of all of the things we see/hear/feel than most other people. This is always difficult. It was most difficult for me when I was a child as I was incredibly sensitive growing up and I was definitely never considered "cool." When you are small and your whole world is your middle or high school, never being cool is absolutely unbearable. When I began my angsty teenage years it all got a little bit easier because it was really when I first began to make things. I started writing and making sketchbooks filled with collages. I was also a computer kid so at 13 I had my own "personal" website where I put my poetry and Photoshop graphics that I made on the computer. It's all so embarrassing now to revisit, but all of it is important because it was when I first discovered I could channel all of that awareness and sensitivity into making things which made life more tolerable.
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere. In my work its often things that occur within my own life, but in certain times I have also made work in response to an outside issue or idea. When I make photographs, I'm definitely most inspired by my friends and the people I meet. I'm really obsessed with photographing people and including people in my work.
Up until this point I have made photographs, videos, films, installations and prints. I never limit myself to one kind of media, but these are the areas in which I most often find myself working. I always seem to come back to them.
I'm currently working on designing and co-curating a publication with two other photographers who I grew up with in San Diego– Eric Chakeen
and Lily Atherton. I'm also taking some of my first studio and medium format photographs this Friday. I've never set anything up and photographed it before so its going to be a completely different way of working for me; scary but very exciting as well. In September we have The Slade Interim show at my school and I'm going to be showing an installation. Its going to include a Super8 film about California that I'm shooting this summer as well as my photographs from California that I will be showing on a slide projector.
This is my friend Sonja sitting by the river in Chiloquin, Oregon in August of 2008. We went on a road trip / nature retreat where we stayed in the middle of the woods nearby this river in a cabin for five days. It was a photograph that I overlooked for many years up until about a month ago which is why I wanted to give it an honorable mention in this interview. 2008 was a very memorable year for me and this photo definitely should make it into the yearbook. Sonja had some of the most incredible tattoos out of anyone I have ever known and I was completely fascinated by them. I don't have any tattoos but if I did have any, I would want them to look just as beautiful as hers. She was one of the people closest to me in 2008 which was inevitably why so much of the work I made during that time included her. I took a lot of photographs of her and we also made some videos together. Vimeo1 and Vimeo2.
This a beautiful man named Daniel that I met at a party I went to last week. I love themed parties and most especially costume parties and he was just killing it. Apparently he had a beard just hours before this photograph was taken.
This is my boyfriend Paul in the shower in Stoneleigh in 2009. Again, a photo that I had at first overlooked, but now it has become one that I keep coming back to. I love how the steam from the shower fogged up the lens of my camera and turned everything yellow.