Story-telling illustrations by Emilie Sarnel


Emilie Sarnel illustrates pinup girls, anthropomorphic food items, wolves with attitude, and tropical countries using bold black lines and bright pops of colour. Her style is sharp and geometric while still retaining a nice handmade touch. She’s not afraid of using large swaths of starkly contrasting black and white, though there are some illustrations in full neon palettes. Her projects beyond illustration include food packaging, product design and city guides. All of Emilie’s work looks like there’s a personal story behind it.


Emilie is a French designer who has lived in Hong Kong for the past two years. In these two years she has had three solo shows, a group show and started her own creative studio called Pleaseconfirm Ltd. It’s clear to me that Emilie has a definitive style but is still experimenting through taking on personal projects and trying mixed media.


I particularly like the pieces  that seem to depict non sequiturs that popped up in Emilie’s mind. Some of her work looks like the visual conclusion to a conversation she had with friends or the punchline of a joke someone told her in private. I enjoy puzzling over what I think the backstory is or how the image and title make sense together. Even when the connection is unclear, the quirky, semi-surrealist quality make Emilie’s illustrations fun to look at.


I’m also biased towards particularly liking her HKwithLove postcard series. Steamed HK is a dead accurate metaphor for Hong Kong in the hot humid summer. The literal illustrations of some HK neighborhoods such as Happy Valley may be obvious but got me thinking. (What places in your city could be re-imagined as visual puns?)


Emilie kept an illustrated diary of her adventures in Asia called Emilieinlove until she discontinued it last May. Going through her archives yields some great finds: casual doodles, quick sketches and humorous captions. Reading her blog might also inspire illustrators trying to get started since it seems that everything she encounters has the potential to be turned into a drawing.


February 14, 2014 / By