Emily has been attending drawing courses at the School since 2015 and works as Creative Director of The29th, a creative consultancy launched by Refinery29.
Describe your work in the creative industries…
I'm a creative director working with brands who want to share their stories in a more conversational way than traditional advertising, and those who are keen to play more of a role in their customers' cultural worlds. I currently head up the creative team at The29th, the new creative consultancy launched by women's media platform Refinery29 in 2018. I also reserve one working day every week to be in my studio - I'm currently based at Wimbledon Art Studios in south London, as in the past few years, in part inspired by my Royal Drawing School experience, I have been developing my artistic practice with the intention of making it a bigger part of my every day.
Why do you think drawing is important?
I strongly believe that everyone has a right to their creativity, and that drawing is one of the most democratic tools of creativity. Certainly for me, drawing has always been one of the main ways that I observe, process and communicate my experiences. Drawing slows us down, and makes us look at what we see, not what we think we ought to see. My belief is that people working in the creative industries often give their entire creative energy in service to others and in that forget to also serve their own creative needs of self-discovery and self-expression. We need to find a balance. Given all you need is a pencil or charcoal and a piece of paper to get going, drawing can be a way back to your intrinsic creative self.
How did you hear about the Royal Drawing School public courses?
Interestingly, I hadn't heard about the Royal Drawing School until my husband bought me a life drawing course as a Christmas present. I'd been working in a high-energy, hugely fulfilling role in a creative agency, and had begun to realise that I wanted more space for exploring my own creativity, but wasn't finding it easy to make time for it as I am also a mother of twins. He figured that it was a good way to create a commitment to a 'breathing space' - both for myself, full stop, and to explore my creativity again.
What course did you decide to book and why?
My sister, who is a practising artist, helped my husband choose a life drawing course. I had always enjoyed life drawing and figure drawing at school and university (I studied fashion), and it is one of the fundamental building blocks of drawing and art - to be able to observe and capture the human form in its environment. I was lucky enough to end up on a course with Robert Dukes and Sharon Brindle, who are incisive, generous and kind tutors, and really challenged me to push myself. Since then I have taken 1-2 courses a year of life drawing, and last summer, I took advantage of a gap in contracts to sign up for the intensive Drawing Development Programme, which was incredible - three days a week of sustained drawing in and around London, as well as in the National Gallery and in the studio. It really helped me to clarify my intent and consolidate the ideas that I want to continue to explore in my art (and, in fact, life as a whole).
How has this course helped to
develop your drawing practice?
The life drawing courses I have taken over the past 4 years have improved my drawing practise immeasurably. Tutors at the Royal Drawing School teach us not only how to draw, but also why we draw, and it has totally shifted my mindset and creative process, which has become more and more intuitive. My technical skills are exponentially better, which is great, but more importantly for me, it offered reassurance that we all see everything entirely subjectively, and my own experiences are what I am to capture, not simply replicate a scene.
The sustained practise of the 10-week Drawing Development programme took me out of my comfort zone of the studio to outdoor locations in London (a city that I love living in, and have done for two decades), and this was an unexpected catalyst for a shift in my drawing style. Drawing on-the-go with fellow artists, at pace, in natural light and studying people in active spaces, along with generous tutors, challenged me to respond differently, to loosen up, and draw more freely, and I loved it.
In what way has this course impacted your professional practice?
While I took courses at Royal Drawing School to give me 'time-out' from the day job, I realised - after just a few terms of evening classes - that it was making me a better creative director. At the School, my experience has been that we are taught to slow down and observe, to develop my critical eye, to capture our interpretation of what we see, to consider all aspects of the composition, and crucially that we all have a valid creativity and just need to draw to discover that we can draw. As a creative director, I essentially take in insights about the brand's audience with the brand's values and cultural narratives, and then work collaboratively with my team to play and create, and deliver a brand campaign as the outcome. People working in the creative industries need to see the world differently to deliver campaigns that resonate, we need absolute confidence in our creativity, and we need critical eye to know that it will work. Drawing helps us do all of those things.
Are you planning on joining a course this summer?
Yes! Although I missed out on both of Robert and Sharon's life drawing courses as I wasn't fast enough to book, so need to find an alternative option. I did the introduction to etching in spring, and am definitely interested in taking that medium further, and am also toying with the Drawing Marathon to kick off my summer, but that it somewhat dependent on work. Having discovered Royal Drawing School, I can't really imagine not doing a course there every term...!
To find out more about public courses and to book click here
While I took courses at Royal Drawing School to give me 'time-out' from the day job, I realised - after just a few terms of evening classes - that it was making me a better creative director.Emily Fleuriot Creative Director at The29th & Public Programme student