Celebrate! February

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Name: Emma Kate Codrington

Age: 24

Current Location: London

Originally From: Adelaide, South Australia

“I’m Emma Kate and I live for design. I’ve always been creative, but after enrolling in Visual Comm at the University of South Australia, the world opened for to me.

I landed my first job as a designer for stationery and lifestyle company Intrinsic – It was a wonderful place to work and Intrinsic had a hugely positive impact on my life. After a while, I ventured into full-time freelance. My tiny business Emma Kate Creative thrived and kept me busy night and day, designing all sorts of things, from branding to wedding stationery as well as some photography and art direction.

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A few years ago, I followed my heart to Europe, basing myself in Montpellier, France. There, I lived life a la francaise for seven months, losing myself in flower markets, speaking imperfect French and generally getting down with some mad joie de vivre. I freelanced from the cobbled streets of Stockholm, cafes in Florence and underneath the Eiffel Tower, among other places. I collected some big whimsy jars of life experience and fell head over heels, ridiculously in love with the world. I then returned to Adelaide for a while and enlisted the help of a beautiful business mentor, Julie, I got busy launching my first stationery and greeting card line, He{art}full, and put together a solo photographic exhibition, Reverie.

EKC_Reverie_2012_SpaceOpening_007EKC_Reverie_2012_SpaceOpening_010Seeking the next big thing, I packed up my Adelaide life a bit more seriously, bought a one-way ticket to London and flew head first into the unknown. The past year has been filled with a menagerie of amazingness. I scored a full time ‘big girl’ job with Macmillan Publishers, travelled as much as humanly possible outside of 9-5pm, threw myself into a bunch of creative collaborations, edited this blog with my bestie and met the love of my life. 2013 rocked my socks off.”

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What is your typical day like?
“I wake at 6.30, spend an hour commuting in peak-hour London – a crazy experience that (if I’m totally honest) I still find a bit exciting, even one year on. I pick up a takeaway coffee and usually a croissant, and then head to the office by 9. I spend my day designing an assortment of worky-type things until 5pm, and then I fly out of the office to after-work excitement. This is usually a mixed-bag assortment or combination of a dinner reservation with my darling or housemates, or making something yummy at home, blogging with Ellen on the couch, taking a yoga or swing dancing class, freelancing, watching Downton Abbey, or baking the occasional cake. I like my typical day to finish with a peppermint tea. And being kissed goodnight.

What motivates you to do the things you do?
“I think that creating comes from something more than just being inspired – I tend to feel an instinctive need to respond to most of my life experiences in some creative way. To document, level, process and make something more from them.

I live and breathe design – work spills into my life, my life spills into my work – the line between the two is fuzzy and I like it that way. My work is such an extension of myself and my freelance clients become friends. My laptop comes everywhere with me – I think that for most designers, we live a different existence than a  typical employment field. We’re in this industry because we want complete immersion.”

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
“For most of my teenage years I struggled with anorexia, and that would undoubtedly be my biggest challenge in life so far. For six odd years I was addicted to living a life completely in shadow. I was living and breathing the complete antithesis of my own rules. My experience of anorexia was an all-consuming paradox of complicated emotions and sadness, involving  extended hospital stays, bouts of nasogastric feeding, disjointed on-again-off-again schooling, a stagnated transition from child to adult, and, ultimately, the very fight to reclaim my life.”

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How have you overcome these challenges?
“It’s tricky to give a definitive ‘this is what saved me’, but there were a variety of things that helped me overcome this experience and return to a full life.

Art and writing were probably my only constants in that chronically unpredictable reality, and I believe my creativity not only kept me going, but was a huge part of bringing me back.

More pragmatically, I stopped making excuses and I constantly challenged myself. I felt the fear, and did it anyway. I stopped asking ‘why’ this happened to me and resolved not to resolve. I wouldn’t accept a life only half lived, because that is not what life is about.

So many people believe that eating disorders can only be recovered from ‘to an extent’ – and this gets me fired up,  bigtime. Full recovery and integration into a healthy, full, unbridled, fulfilled, happy existence is absolutely, irrefutably, most definitely possible. I know this, because I did.”

Towards the end of my studies, I developed my first collection of photographic artworks, Chrysalis, which offers a raw and confronting portrayal through the depths of my eating disorder. I presented this collection to Aceda, a not-for-profit organization supporting sufferers, and we launched in partnership the Chrysalis exhibition, which toured around regional South Australia and was later published into a limited edition art book.

Chrysalis was my personal approach to coming full circle, and the community response was profound. This project was not only a catalyst for huge personal transformation, but also a big launching pad for me professionally.”

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What would be your greatest achievement so far?
“I won the ‘terrific kid’ award for my year group at the end of Grade 3. Does that count?

I feel that I am really just at the beginning. I want to do really, really great things.”

What are you currently working on / towards?
“At the time of writing this, I’m putting the final touches on a creative collaboration with Australian blogger Fat Mum Slim. We’re launching this project on February 1st just in time for Valentine’s Day, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s called Scatter Love, and it’s all about bringing happiness to mailboxes and people all around the world. You can check out all the details here and you can watch the love being scattered via social media with the hashtag #scatterlove.”

Can you provide some advice to those wanting to lead a creative life?
“To lead a creative life you need a preparedness to work hard. A willingness to knock on doors, rather than hide behind your email address. Show people who you are and what you can offer, to their face. A love for intense networking and making connections – people know people. And being prepared to move to where the jobs and opportunities are.

Design isn’t a cookie-cutter profession, it’s all about developing your style and being memorable in a way that people will connect with. If you’re looking to make a profession out of your creativity, having a web presence is hugely important in establishing your brand and as a point of first contact.

If you’re feeling a bit stuck (we all have those days), get out of your current space and hop on a bus, or train, or get in your car. There’s something about being in motion that unravels the mind.”

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Written by the gorgeous Emma Kate Codrington from Emma Kate Creative

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