Emma Ruff‘s creations depict my life of twenty-one years perfectly. When I first set eyes upon her work, I was immediately taken back to the year 2000; my hazy childhood filled with half-read newspapers, a plastic box full of Crayola, and a small tub of PDA glue – it was paper mâché time. At the end of the day, nobody can really resist the feeling of tearing apart clean, untouched paper. Ruff’s works, however, goes further as she plays with the idea of interdisciplinary creation, something I wasn’t fully exposed to until university. By throwing analogue collages, flower preservation, fibre art, and poetry into her magic pot; Ruff stirs up an unfamiliar yet perfectly harmonized portfolio by giving everyday objects a spin of her own stories and sentiments. If there is one thing that we could all take away from how she describes her artistic journey and work practice, it would be the importance of embracing and reconciling with one’s own emotions.
i) Please use three words to describe your work and artistic style!
Ahh, tricky. I would think the words ‘floral’, ‘witty’, and ‘neat’ would sum it all up.
ii) Name your favourite piece of work since the beginning of your creative journey, and why?
It’s hard to play favoritism. I think that I’ve created many different pieces in a variety of mediums all with different intentions. I would say, I did and still do love putting pieces together that resonate with matters of the heart. Many of the words I use in any of my smaller comic bits typically reflect directly what I’ve been feeling and or going through in my present life. They are usually about a specific situation or person. I often wonder if the specific person will get the message or understand what I’m trying to say through the piece. Sort of makes it fun.
iii) You work with analogue collage, flower preservation techniques, fibre, as well as poetry. How did you decide to work with multiple mediums at the same time, and what drew you towards using these mediums in particular?
I found that as a practice, all of these mediums come together naturally. I’m always seeking some type of outlet for my emotions and through all of the above, I’ve been able to take part in work that helps me feel whole and fulfilled. I’ve always been infatuated with fibres. Since a young age, I took pieces of clothing and would rip them apart, sew them together, and create something new. Having fabric and thread in my hands feels comfortable and very normal. Poetry and writing, in general, has been a part of my existence since I was a child. I’ve always kept up with a journal, documenting daily nuisances but more importantly I’ve always used it as a way to document thoughts or feelings. With these words, I draw inspiration for other mediums of work, such as collage and flower preservation. Two things that require patience and process. I use flowers in most of my work for many reasons, but most importantly, for the way they make me feel: calm, in control and very much alive.
iv) What is your favourite thing about working with paper?
The preciseness. I like the act of perfecting a cut and having it fit a certain way with another piece. Or, not at all. The rough edges of ripped pages are just as appealing. It’s also a nice, flat medium that makes it slightly easier to create a larger volume of work. I’ve also always been interested in a larger scale, and more three-dimensional pieces.
v) What are some of your sources of inspiration?
There are infinite answers for this. It always varies. I do draw constant inspiration from music, atmosphere, and workspace. I like my studio to be warm and comfortable. I like to wear things that feel soft on my skin and to hear sweet sounds. Recently I’ve been on a kick with music such as Beirut, Blu, St. Vincent, and Radiohead. I like older albums that were once there for me in happy times and hard times because I like the nostalgia. Altogether, I want my environment to be quiet, warm, consistent, and typically fairly organized. I occasionally bring in a bulky cassette player from my bedroom, and I listen to older classical music cassettes and more modern ones too. It makes things feel fuzzy – in a good way.
vi) What does the word ‘art’ mean to you?
It means embodying all that you do into a form that you feel comfortable with. Being expressive. Being vulnerable. Allowing yourself to create and be created. I don’t believe there are any limits. Everyone experiences art a little bit differently and that’s okay.
vii) What is something that you learned about yourself during your creative journey, both artistically and introspectively?
Many things, but most importantly, to use emotion in all ways. To not be afraid of what that means. To never feel inadequate or lesser than because you feel a little bit more.
viii) Lastly, are there any upcoming projects in 2018 that you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, many! I plan on continuing with my collage, comic pieces, and other paper related works. I will also be trying my hand at a few “zines” and perhaps some other forms of incorporating writing into my collage works. This year will be full of new endeavours.
A great thank-you to Emma Ruff, and images courtesy to the artist herself.