Feature: Illustrator Emily Johnson

Date posted: 18 May 2018 Author: STC Production:  Blackie Blackie Brown 

Emily Johnson is the talented young illustrator behind the concept art for the projected animations in Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death.

Still in her early twenties, living and working here in Sydney, she's been involved with the project through its development, with her drawings helping to shape the look of the costume designs by STC Resident Designer Elizabeth Gadsby and the visual effects of the show created by Melbourne-based collective Oh Yeah Wow. She's also helped create some of the show's most distinctive marketing, including designing a giant mural in Newtown to promote the show.


Emily Johnson


Emily, when did you start illustrating?

My grandfather and father are both Barkindji visual artists who inspired me a lot, my mum also encouraged me from a young age to be creative and I have been drawing cartoons non-stop ever since I can remember. 

What inspires your drawing?

I'm inspired by scifi and fantasy as well as Japanese animation. Growing up, I was really frustrated with the lack of representation in comics and media that I couldn't see myself in, so eventually I just started drawing my own. 

What has being part of Blackie Blackie Brown been like?

Working on Blackie Blackie Brown and with Oh Yeah Wow in Melbourne on the animations has been a dream come true. I've seen my drawings come to life! And I think black content that questions the Australian national narrative is really important, now more than ever. And to have it written, designed and acted in by strong women in our community has been such a great thing to be part of.


Check out some of Emily's artwork below, and to see it come to life, don't miss Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death.



Early concept art for archaeologist Dr Jacqueline Black uncovering the skull of her great-great-grandmother




Early concept art for Dr Jacqueline Black being shadowed in her lab




Early concept art for Dr Jacqueline Black's transformation into superhero Blackie Blackie Brown – it was later decided she wouldn’t carry a gun





(Left) Concept art from later in the process showing Blackie Blackie Brown with a new weaponised boomerang; and (right) her great-great-grandmother




(Left, right and below) Later concept art from 2018 showing costume concepts for BBB – her clothes are bright, her hair is now blue, she has a new wrist computer and carries her weaponised boomerang




Our advertising mural for the show in Newtown, painted by Apparition Media, based on Emily's illustration



Blackie Blackie Brown: The Traditional Owner of Death, 12 May – 30 Jun 2018, Wharf 2 Theatre

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