Dame Zandra Rhodes - Portrait Series

For vanities sake I’m leaving out how old I was when I joined the Fashion & Textile Museum in 2003, embarking upon one of my favourite but sadly short and sweet periods in my creative life. In the May of that same year I had graduated from my Fashion degree course, hungry to begin my journey as a sponge and soak up everything I possibly could from the best, whilst trying to figure out exactly where and who creatively I wanted to be.

After finishing up 5 months of pattern and toile production with the wonderful design duo based in West London, Gharani Strok I was onto my next big adventure in the Big Smoke. (Ending with a rather hilarious but ultimately disastrous 5 minutes in charge of the VIP guest list at the catwalk backstage entrance. Hadn’t the foggiest who anyone was.)

I always remember vividly receiving a phone call from the Fashion & Textile Museum Curator Mr Dennis Nothdruft, as I was completely bowled over that he had chosen to call me, of all people. He’d thanked me for the numerous copies of colourful CV’s I’d sent in, (My strategy at the time was to bombard until they said yes… it worked on this occasion.) and then asked if I would like to come and join them working on designing and creating some costumes for their annual charity pantomime show…errr yep!

The brief at the time was to design and create 2 costumes incorporating some signature Zandra Rhodes prints. We were partnered with a fellow Textile design graduate and the task was simple; design, create the pattern, print up from the vast screens available and stitch away. The pantomime was Aladdin and I was allocated Widow Twanky and the bad guy. (I searched for the photos, cannot find them but will add as soon as I do. They are a treat for the eyes.)

Fellow graduates began to peel away and not before long there was a mere 2 of us left to complete the main character’s costumes. By sheer luck my companion was the equally dedicated and hilarious Textile Designer, Anna Whitford Nelson who helped end the experience on an absolute high. (Of course the costumes looked fabulous too.) I learnt a heck of a lot during that period; perseverance, working to a brief, budget and deadline, building costumes to a set of measurements and completing a project whilst maintaining all enthusiasm and humour when the workload increased. At the time I was still living in Essex, holding down a full time job whilst trying to complete some work experience in the industry in London. It served me well for my future roles in the industry as I developed a keen sense of work ethic and time management. Something which I would advise all graduates whatever the industry to take the time to seek out.

Following on from the success of delivering the main character’s costumes I was then asked to stay on and help out in Zandra’s studio for the run up to the 2004 collection. I loved every minute of the experience. At the time the set up was all in house, with the studio above the museum and a small team of highly skilled machinists and pattern cutters. My duties varied from hand stitching buttons and labels to delicately cutting printed silk pieces which were matched meticulously against a printed hard pattern. It was a highly creative environment with the nicest, warmest group of artisans to help you along the way.

The years after my time with the Zandra Rhodes team I fell into a career within Fashion brands and retail as a Garment Technologist. Which although I am grateful for the opportunities it afforded me, it was also a less creative period for me.

The museum and Dame Zandra Rhodes have always been a fantastic support for students and graduates alike and I am truly grateful for the experiences I had and will always look back on that time with great fondness, which is why I have chosen to illustrate and dedicate this piece to Dame Zandra Rhodes.

From the 27th September 2019 the Fashion & Textile Museum are showcasing a retrospective of Zandra’s extraordinary career over 50 years. If you can pop along I imagine it will be well worth the visit.

Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous.

Dame Zandra Rhodes

Dame Zandra Rhodes

SS20 Men's Fashion weeks; an illustrated view

July is already upon us and somehow the weeks have rolled by and here we are in the middle of the glorious Haute Couture shows in Paris. (Illustrations of which will be coming soon I hasten to add.)

From New York through to the final Menswear shows in Paris I worked on a special collaboration with a fellow men’s wear devotee (and extraordinarily talented) illustrator based in the USA, DIS PATER.

#DispaterxEm Valentino SS20, Paris

#DispaterxEm Valentino SS20, Paris

It was such a special project to have worked on together. I ended up taking much more from it than some fancy pants new illustrations for my folio. Not only did it force me into breaking out of my mould and trying a new digital medium and working against the deadlines of a different timezone, but I also found a like minded creative chum for mutual encouragement and creative banter. Which in all honesty has been a god send since working alone. (As much as I love laughing at my jokes, even my plants are starting to wilt.)

I love to work in solitude, as most do. However just having someone there for a small nod of appreciation and nudge of encouragement in the right direction is all you need sometimes to completely change your direction for the better.

I began to see my work evolve in a different light of which has now led me onto new directions with some personal projects I am working on currently. Hope you all enjoy the new direction!

Back to the Menswear…what a season. As always, I am in absolute awe and so very much in love with the creative geniuses out there transforming menswear right now. It reminded me of a course I attended last year; ‘Menswear and Masculinities’ over at the V&A. The content of which was elegantly presented by Dr Benjamin Wild and very significant as to how men’s fashion has evolved and is still continuing to evolve and push at stereotypes today. It reflects what is happening in our societies, and acts as a powerful tool for movement and change for the better.

I have always loved Menswear, and it’s fantastic to see each and every season the change and growth in the collections. There was too many of which I adored to illustrate, here’s just a few of my favourites from the past month.

Please do follow over on instagram to see all of the DISPATERxEM collaboration illustrations in all their glory.


Thank you and enjoy the gorgeous July sunshine

Em x

Dior Men SS20, Paris

Dior Men SS20, Paris

Alexander McQueen SS20, London

Alexander McQueen SS20, London

Walter Van Beirendonck SS20, Paris

Walter Van Beirendonck SS20, Paris

Craig Green SS20, London

Craig Green SS20, London

DIS PATER x EM SS20 Menswear

I have long admired the comic book stylised illustrations of Dis Pater, with his strikingly powerful characters, beautiful draftsmanship and gorgeous use of colour tones setting off his illustrations wonderfully within the world he has created. www.dispaternyc.com

So to receive an invite to work with him covering this season’s SS20 Menswear illustrations was pure joy for me.

Our approach maybe different and quite literally an ocean apart, but we share a love for menswear and illustration. Our vision is to show this united creative approach in a fun way, covering our favourite collections from each of the cities.

We are updating mainly on Instagram, so please follow the hashtag #dispaterxem or start following us both on instagram for regular updates!



DIS PATER x EM SS20 Craig Green, London

DIS PATER x EM SS20 Craig Green, London

New Skills

Wan Hung SS20, New York

Wan Hung SS20, New York

For myself I’m using this an added opportunity to finally pick up my iPad and start using Procreate for this collaboration, which I have had for well over a year and a half now…yes I know, I procrastinate.

It’s the perfect project for this digital tool, not only am I trying to ensure my hand drawn stylings translate onto screen, it’s also great for the turn around time needed to cover the shows over the coming weeks. (I’m also finding it to be a particularly fab portable mess free tool.)

We hope you enjoy the new work to come over on instagram! If you would like to work with either or both DIS PATER and I please feel free to drop us a line at the following for more info!

Thanks for stopping by.




Portraits inspirations series, Ricky Gervais

Decided to pick up on a portrait series I started off on my old website and also by the looks of it, the inability to know when to stop with the colour saturation, and now also the biscuits for that matter.

I wanted to create a project looking at people who have had an outside influence on my life over the years, being the impressionable individual that I am, the list was long.

Comedy has always been such an important part of my make-up, I always find the funny in most situations and for me it really has been the best medicine over the years. Growing up on sitcoms and sketch shows and hanging out with some of the best comedic geniuses in my friends at high school helped form that rather well.


18 years ago (Yes, you’re welcome. You’re old too.) I was completely drawn into The Office and this chaps comedy hits my humour level spot on. I have belly ached with laughter listening to the podcasts on the morning commute, and quite honestly not giving a rats arse what anyone else on the train thought. Just purely for introducing Karl Pilkington to the world deserves an award. Forward onto me crying drunk in a cinema watching David Brent Life on the road, exclaiming to my confused companion emotionally; “Oh my god, I’m David Brent.” Which in a small way is true. (Anyone who has seen it will know exactly the part that I mean.)

So for making me ‘LOL’ on many occasions and helping to forget the crap that can come along in life, here is my nod of appreciation to Ricky Gervais. I thank you Sir.

There is a lot I have to continue improving upon with my portrait work with composition and approach, but I have thoroughly enjoyed created these pieces. I’m more of a traditional hand drawn illustrator and love the artwork of the likes of the greats Bob Peak and Robert McGinnis. With this series I have also allowed myself to play about with use of colour, which as you can also see, have enjoyed using far too much!

As mentioned I have a long list of people I want to draw up and cannot wait to share with you!

Thanks for stopping by!


For commissions please email me directly at: emma@emmamullen.com

Wanderlust - All work and some pleasure.

I’m lucky enough to have a window desk which not only catches all the glorious sun, but also looks out directly to the Heathrow landing flight path. Which annoyingly causes many mind wandering moments when staring at a 737 coming in to land; where have they been, where have I been, where am I going next, when am I going next… which airline is that? Glad I’m not going to be in that passport queue.

Local Man sitting with his cow, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam.

Local Man sitting with his cow, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam.

I think of myself to have been so very fortunate to not only have had a job that allowed me to essentially travel the world for free, to visit places I would never have been, but to also meet and work with some amazing people along the way.

I’ve always been curious and have an adventurous spirit, always wanted to see and do more. So I now find myself thinking of my last adventures.

For 3 1/2 months in 2018 I was contracted to work in Vietnam and Myanmar with my garment technology hat on. Loved the work but whilst there I made it my personal task to see more of the culture in some down time. Something which I had always been pretty piss poor at doing when working full time.

Based in Ho Chi Minh City I managed to venture out to Hanoi, Ninh Binh, Da Nang, Mekong Delta and Hoi An. I loved exploring the vibrant city, it’s culture and history walking many miles and drinking many cold beers along the way.

Local ladies sitting in the shade, Mekong Delta, HCMC. Vietnam

Local ladies sitting in the shade, Mekong Delta, HCMC. Vietnam

Decided to work on some illustrations this year to capture some of these many wonderful places from my travels. Here’s a just a couple from some of my snapshots of Vietnam.

Hope you enjoy, more to come!


Welcome to my new home! (and other ramblings on changing careers.)

Welcome to my new website home, decided to move platforms and hope you all like it.

Explained to a friend recently, it’s like building your first ikea bookshelf and feeling proud….until someone nudges it and it falls down. Hopefully not in this instance.

Given the new image, I thought it might be worthwhile to reflect and share a bit of my journey so far as it might be useful to someone, or just pure drivel for many others. I’ll then carry on blogging with some more interesting work updates and general shenanigans.

The last 15 months have been a huge learning curve for me in plenty of ways to keep me on my toes. For many this is nothing new, but alike many more who are embarking on a change of life and career in their (late) thirties it’s all still exciting, fearful, joyful and stressful in equal measures.

I’ve always been arty, never left my mind and soul. After working in fashion for some time I decided to cut lose and try and find my way back to my true creative path.


The biggest challenge which I had never thought of or planned into my schedule of new career building, was just how long it would take for my mind to change gears. It’s felt like it’s stalled my whole new start by months and I want to kick myself through frustration, but then I remember I need to be kind to myself, especially with my mental health.

Things take time and after working in such a fast paced, stressful environment in corporate fashion, it’s worlds apart from creating new projects, planning self promotion and finding paid work under this new self-motivated guise.

Through the people I’ve met and the plenty of wonderful material and events out there for new start-ups, freelancers and illustrators it’s all come together to help push me upwards and onwards. That’s the best thing, community.

The advice I would give to anyone thinking of embarking on a new journey whatever their age, go for it. Prepare, plan and do your research but don’t let any fears hold you back. There will be sleepless nights, tears and copious amounts of biscuits eaten, but it’s all worth it if you’re willing to knuckle down and work at it.

I’m still learning and certainly have a long way to go, but loving every minute of it and have not looked back.

I hope you enjoy my work and will keep on with the updates, any requests please drop me a line.

Thank you for stopping by!