Studio Visit

Emily thornton


Emily was born and raised in Lund, Sweden, to an English father and a Swedish mother. Her home was filled with music and books, and she became interested in drawing at an early age. Soon after graduating from gymnastics (which is the equivalent of "high school" in Sweden), she moved to Paris, France to study art. Not knowing French or its culture, but having a strong desire to study in the European capital of art, she decided to stay despite her lack of language skills.

After five years in Paris (including an ERASMUS semester in Krakow, Poland), she obtained a master's degree in art direction from ESAG Penninghen.

Although she loved Paris, her heart was at home. So she headed north with her degree and has been working for the past two years as a freelance art director almost exclusively for IKEA.

At ESAG, the first two years were mainly devoted to the fine arts, and throughout her career as art director, she always returned to the essential: painting. Her technique has varied from charcoal to oil and everything in between. Today, she paints mostly brightly coloured portraits in acrylic or goat's wax, sometimes also in oil.

Her canvases are small or medium format and the theme most often revolves around strong women or sensitive men.

She works mainly in her studio or on her veranda, depending on the mood and the light.

Emily has participated in several exhibitions, including one in 2008 in Stockholm, Sweden at the Lilla Galleriet, and one in Malmö, Sweden, in 2011 at the Self Made Gallery.

Q. Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist…

A. I have always been interested in art, the silent relief it offers. I started drawing at an early age and wanted really to become an illustrator at first. But when I was taught the magic of color on a canvas there was no turning back!


Q. Describe your work in three words…

A. Colorful, figurative, sloppy yet thoughtful.


Q. What does your creative process look like?

A. I have ten thousand ideas all the time so I firstly try to sort them out, decide which ones to go for and which ones to lay aside for now. Then I sketch with oil pastels on paper and then I paint in acrylic on canvas or wood.


Q. What influences do traditional cultures have on your work?

A. Everything I see influences me in one way or an other! But my greatest source of inspiration is just watching people. Their mimic, their body language, their gait… Before kids I could sit at a café or park bench for hours just observing the people around me. Every one of my painting is a person, or parts of a person, I have observed in silence ;)


Q. Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?

A. I often listen to a podcast while painting :)


Q. Artist whose career you covet?

A. Jesper Waldersten! (A Swedish illustrator and painter. Outstanding!)


Q. Is art making therapeutic for you?

A. Yes very much so. Time flies while I paint.


Q. What are you most proud of?

A. Being brave enough to start a new career, to go for the art, at my age. 


Q. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

A. I hope I’ll be painting full time :)


Q. If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?

A. To Florence, Italy.


Q. If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?

A. Jemima Kirk!


Q. What messages or emotions do you hope to convey to your audience?

A. I don’t really care if people ”like” my art, I want them to stop at it, look at it, look again and then again. Art is there for many reasons; to provoke, to inspire, to decorate. My hope is that my art it is something that draws you in, for whichever of the reasons mentioned above, and leaves you with a sentiment of having been seen.

Shop the artist
View new works by Emily Thornton
Collect Now




New Arrivals