Emma Byrne is a graphic designer and artist living in Ballyedmond, Gorey, Co. Wexford. Originally from New Ross, she studied in Limerick School of Art and Design, graduating with First Class Honours, and in Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London. She has worked in the publishing industry for ten years. After graduating from college, she worked for Writers and Readers, Freeway Press and News International, London. In 2001 she came back to Ireland. She immediately began working and living in Dublin and in 2006 returned to live in Wexford.
She has designed everything from a rock magazine (Rocksound) to book covers (The O’Brien Press). She has won numerous awards including: The IDI (Irish Design Institute) Designer of the Year in 1996, the IDI Promotional Literature Award 2003 for her work on Brown Morning, and a Bisto Merit Award for her work on Something Beginning With P: New Poems from Irish Poets (The O’Brien Press, 2006). She has worked internationally as an exhibition designer for the Liechtenstein Pavilion at the Frankfurt Book Fair (1997). She also curated a touring exhibition of the illustration work from Something Beginning With P, and she is a founding member of SPI (The Society of Publishers in Ireland).
In addition to the above, Emma has been working as a visual artist for several years now, primarily, but not exclusively, as a painter and printmaker. She has exhibited in Ireland, the UK, Germany and Liechtenstein, and her work is in several private collections. Her work can be seen in some ways as relating to her work as a designer; she regularly uses text, both printed and calligraphic, as well as gestural and expressive markmaking, sometimes based on drawn landscape, sometimes abstract, which suggests dense clots of handwriting just on the other side of legibility. While her design work is meticulous, ordered, and aware of its function in promoting the work of the author rather than drawing attention to itself, her paintings and prints possess a wildness, intensity and energy which would be almost anarchic if not grounded in a true artist’s control of her medium.