Emma Hack makes skin illustration a fine art

In Emma Hack’s photographic prints, she carefully camouflages the human form with hand painted designs that meld her subjects with the background. Her work incorporates multiple mediums and styles to produce work that is distinctly her own. 

When viewing the work of Emma Hack, one could be forgiven for thinking that she creates her works with Photoshop layering and transparency techniques. But in reality, Hack spends many hours painstakingly painting the model by hand, ensuring the lighting is right to minimise shadows and setting up the scene so that the design integrates seamlessly from body to background. Once the design is complete, she photographs it. It is a labour-intensive process that can take 8 to 15 hours but the results are unique.

Emma_Hack_Cranes_Mandala_II
Emma Hack, Cranes Mandala II from the Wallpaper Mandala Collection 2010. Image courtesy Seaview Gallery.

Hack, who is based in Adelaide, is not easily categorised; she is a skin illustrator, photographer, makeup artist and designer combined. She began her career as a children’s face painter and eventually moved into body art, inspired by a 1992 Vanity Fair cover of Demi Moore painted in a suit. Later, Hack discovered the camouflage body-painting images of fashionista, Veruschka, which motivated her to explore the concept further in her own work.

Emma_Hack_Carnation_Mandala
Emma Hack, Carnation Mandala from the Wallpaper Mandala Collection 2010. Image courtesy Seaview Gallery.

During Hack’s 21-year career, commercial body art commissions have taken her to all corners of the world, including projects with Tiffany and Co. in Dubai, Mont Blanc in Beijing and Premiere Vision in Paris. But it is in her own highly decorative, themed collections of photographic prints that Hack can give herself total creative freedom.

She employs the mandala, the circle, as a visual representation of wholeness and patterns of life. Her love for Australian animals and her concern for the environment are evident in some of her collections like Native Mandala and the surreal Cowscape, but she is probably best known for her Wallpaper 2005, 2007 and 2008 collections. These works feature the sumptuous wallpaper designs of Florence Broadhurst which Hack obtained special permission to use.

Hack has now published her work in a beautifully produced art book, Wallpaper Collections 2005–2010. Only 1000 signed and individually numbered editions are available and it is currently on display at Seaview Gallery.

Emma_Hack_Art_Book Wallpaper Collections
Pages from Wallpaper Collections 2005–2010. Image from emmahack.com.au

Like Broadhurst, Hack expresses her creativity through multiple mediums and platforms. She worked with ceramicists Gus Clutterbuck and Andrew Stock to create decorative porcelain busts, and recently her work featured in the film clip of popular Australian musician Gotye, Somebody That I Used To Know (with Kimbra).

This year, the artist released a new collection of limited edition photographic prints Birds of Prey combining the human form with strongly designed backgrounds and Australian birds. The collection features owls, the Wedge Tailed Eagle and Peregrine Falcon.

Emma_Hack_Owl_In_WoodsEmma Hack, Owl in Woods from the Birds of Prey Collection 2011. Image courtesy Seaview Gallery.
Emma_Hack_Owl_on_Bold_OrchidEmma Hack, Owl on Bold Orchid from the Birds of Prey Collection 2011. Image courtesy Seaview Gallery.

You can view Emma Hack’s photographic prints at Seaview Gallery, 86 Hesse St, Queenscliff until the end of August. Ph: +61 3 5258 3645 seaviewgallery.com.au
More details about Emma Hack’s work can be found at www.emmahackartist.com

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