Growing up on a farm in rural Auckland may not seem like the road to a creative life. But for artist and illustrator Ema Frost it just was the nurturing childhood she needed. “We used to go off on adventures all the time discovering new things and I had every animal under the sun, so I spent a lot of time outside getting amongst it.”

Nature seems to be an inspirational driving force behind many of Frost’s works. From Peacocks to Hummingbirds, there’s definitely a touch of Mother Nature here, as well as something else; something the stuff of fairy tales and whimsy. “They are mostly created from a made up world in my head…They all have their own backstory which develops more when I’m creating and spending time with them.”


It’s this backstory that gives Frost’s characters an alluring depth. One glance isn’t enough. Their large eyes, reminiscent of Keane’s big eyed waifs of the 60s, draw you in. Hine, a tiny warrior girl, adorned with chin moko, draped in traditional Maori feathered cloak, stares into your eyes. She has something to tell you. But what? If you listen carefully you might just hear her.


As well as a clear influence from Maori legends there’s also a marrying of Japanese Mythology giving her work a dream-like style; Animae meets the adventures of Maui. Following the Japanese theme Frost also has a ceramic collection – Dinkie a small rabbit-like doll. Like most things Japanese, Dinkie is super cute and just a tiny bit kitsch.

Despite her artistic success, a career as an artist wasn’t Frost’s first choice. She originally studied fitness, believing it to be a more stable career choice. But after a few years of working and tavelling, Frost decided she needed to pursue art and decided to study at Yoobee School of Design.

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After exploring a rage of different art mediums like jewellery, ceramics, and so on, Ema began focusing on prints. That’s where her cute character’s emerged, leading her to commercial success.

An avid traveller, having O.E’ed through California, Brazil, Morocco and England, Frost has also just returned from a two month residency in India. “The medium used in Rajasthan (where I was based) involves working with Handmade Indian Paper and gouche (opaque water colour). I’m currently working on new work that was created while I was up there (India).”

Her artworks are so popular they are now stocked in galleries all over Aotearoa and Australia. But Frost isn’t about to stop there. So what’s next? World domination? “I would love to dominate the world! (laughs) I have a couple of USA based things in the pipeline and was just in a UK publication art book.”


Ema also has plans to write and illustrate her own series of children’s books based on the characters she has created from that made-up world in her head. “I would so love for others to be able to enter in and enjoy this world too.”

You can see more of Ema’s work at the upcoming NZ Arts Show in Wellington.

To view her work and purchase prints and products go to

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