Interview: Emma Watkinson

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A conversation with the remarkable Emma Watkinson, the artist who designed DJ Tristan‘s album artwork for ‘Way Of Life’ out soon. She talks about everything from Salavador Dali, Pixies and mushrooms, playing the flute at dawn, and how music forms the basis for many of her inspirations in life and art.


The Artwork you’ve created for Tristan’s album is utterly beautiful.   What was the initial brief for the painting & the creative process between you & Tristan?

It was the widest brief possible, it was hilarious. The idea was to sum up the entire Way of Life of Trance music, from the Goa trance scene to festivals like Boom, Ozora & Burning man, with the influence of ancient cultures, future tech, & alien contact thrown in for good measure!

How did you seek to capture the energy of Tristan specifically?

Well, I started with the geometry of the circle in the square, which means spirit into matter. Leonardo da Vinci explored how the human body fits into this in his drawing The Ventruvian Man.  It seemed obvious that this is an archetype Tristan can totally rock, those arms in the air peak moments at a blinding gig!  He blasts into the painting in a flaming comet, a Ganesha shaped chariot, & is also held within in the feminine head of Sophia, creatrix of the universe.   When we align with this power we have the power to create our lives. Ever feel like that on a dance floor?

How did the experience of live painting inspire this piece ?

I was super exited have the opportunity to experience live painting the triple goddess to Tristan’s set at Boom. It was incredible, it felt like we were all collectively with the crowd creating a spiral of positive energy swirling into space.  It occured to me that most Trance Dance floors are built in the shape of a Torus, which is a template for the future renewable flow of energy according to the movie Thrive. Felt like we were co-creating magic.

Do you feel something, like spirit, is working through you when you paint?

Definitely.  It’s a process of listening & revelation.  For example, I only realised this piece is like a giant eye of consciousness after I painted it.  It popped out at me, I was listening to Eckhart Tolle at the time.  Also, the punchline of the piece, I realised an apple (of Avalon?) is in the shape of a torus, & in the core are the five seeds, like the pentagram drawn over the human body to invoke spirit over the four elements. Something up there is playing with me.

Does the psychedelic experience inspire you?

Yup.  Magick, Music & Ayahuasca.  Its a good combo.  Hence the Ayahuasca vines intertwined with the electric sound waves on the horizon.

What is the lineage of the style of art you create?

Visionary Art’s roots can be traced back to the Fantastic Realist movement of Vienna, & Ernst Fuchs.  A few years back, I was lucky enough to assist him painting, he’s very old now.  Back in the day there was him, Salvador Dali & Matti Klarwein, wild eccentric surrealist artists hanging out.  Matti Klarwein created those incredible album covers for Santana.  Absolutely mind-blowing masterpiece oil paintings each one.

You grew up in Devon surrounded by stone circles & leylines.  How did that shape your Art? 

It’s all the Pixies fault. That and the mushrooms.

You have lived in so many stunning & vibrant countries all over the world. A travelled mind is a nurtured mind. How has this journey fed your creative spirit? 

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the sacred sites of the world.  Ankor Watt, The Pyramids, Mayan Temples, Buddhism in Thailand, the Ganga in Varanasi India, Stonehenge, and crop circles.  Each place was like an initiation key I still feel the resonance of today.  It’s all in there if you look.

Did you have a sneak listen of Tristan’s album while painting this cover?

Oh yes. Music is the engine & energy in my studio.   Nothing happens without it.

Were you at some point producing music yourself, does this affect your take on Art?  

Yes, all my life.  I play many instruments, I used to produce ambient music, still sing to unwind.  Hence it’s massively important to my creative process what I listen to at different stages of a painting, I connect with it deeply, it’s a synethetic experience.  Trance for blasting energy, trip hop for peak revelations, ambient for peaceful moments. My own music is more chilled though, & you’ll often find me around fires at dawn jamming the flute.

What did you most enjoy about working with Nano records?

It was an honour to create something for Nano, absolute Legends.   Regan was super positive, encouraging & patient throughout the creative process.  Looking forward to celebrating this release!


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