Graphic Material! A Design Darling Shows Off Her Print-Tastic Ensembles

Sometimes, it takes everything for us not to gawk at a sleek typeface and let out a huge sigh of envy. Of course, when we met the master graphic designer Emma Robertson, we were super intrigued by her sharp eye and warm demeanor.
Don't let her pint-size stature fool you — she has big personality — and happens to have a few other tricks up her sleeve, too. This polymath just inked a book deal with Chronicle Books on how to wear stylish knits, so we had to follow her across the bridge, visiting her Jack London Square studio and beyond. All that's fit to print, right here!
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1 of 16
Tell us more about what you do.
"My main profession is graphic design, specializing in branding and strategy for small businesses. This ranges from logos and marketing materials down to designing websites and business models. I love it when brands trust me to be part of the early stages of development all the way up to the final details and implementation. Through all of this, I also play the role of art director, stylist, and consultant. I love what I do and feel very lucky for that."

Emma looks lovely in Oakland's Jack London Square in an Everly dress, Madewell scarf, BC Footwear shoes, and Madewell bracelets.

Photographed by Eva Kolenko
2 of 16
What inspired you to get into design?
"I’ve always been on the path toward a creatively driven life and career. My mother was a huge influence in this; I grew up watching her run arts and crafts fairs, start her own businesses, and work alongside various artists and musicians. It was only natural to follow in her footsteps. I felt like design was the smartest way for me to work in a creative field and be able to provide for myself. I couldn’t be happier with the choices I've made."
3 of 16
We hear you have a tome coming out with Chronicle Books — spill!
"I have been working with Chronicle Books for over a year on a book called Knitting By Design. This book pushed me to take my knitting to the next level and truly design pieces that young, fashionable women would want to incorporate into their wardrobe. The book is a unique and creative approach to knitting, as I walk the reader through my process — from the inspiration to the final execution. There will be 15 projects total, from small accessories to more involved garments."
4 of 16
What's your favorite item to knit?
"I have a hat obsession, so it only made sense to extend that love into my knitting. I am currently really into traditional fisherman style caps whereas before, I made super bulky beanies with massive pom-poms on top!"
5 of 16
Describe your personal style.
"For as long as I can remember, I’ve dressed pretty casual and neutral — lots of dark denim and slouchy tees. This was always interesting to me, because I tend to lean towards color and patterns in my graphic-design work. I'm now at a point in my life where my taste is beginning to change. I definitely wear more patterns and silhouettes, but am still pretty prone to reaching for black and white pieces."

Emma lounges in an Anthropologie jumpsuit, Warby Parker glasses, Breckelles flats, and a thrifted clutch.
6 of 16
What's one item in your closet that gets the most mileage?
"Black-denim jeans are my favorite, go-to pair. I loved my pair of Levi's, but I've decided to change it up and go with Madewell’s denim leggings."
7 of 16
Where do you go to find inspiration when designing?
"Pinterest is always great for a quick boost of creative energy, but I prefer to look at actual design-focused websites when pulling specifically for projects. has become a new favorite of mine; it allows me to take a peek at what my peers are working on and leaves me feeling inspired and challenged by their great work."
8 of 16
What's been one of the coolest moments in your career to date?
"I would have to say my most recent creative adventure, the knitting book. I am incredibly excited and grateful to be a published author. Knitting has unexpectedly gone from a hobby to something much larger. When opportunities like this are successful, it leaves you feeling free and confident to explore even more!"
9 of 16
If we could peek into your closet right now, what are some of the items we'd find?
"A basket of all my knitwear; even though it’s warming up, I still like to have it out in the spotlight to admire. I also have a lot of shoes scattered around on the floor. (I've been pretty addicted to BC Footwear lately!) And, a lot of sun dresses. I lived in Los Angeles and indulged in short dresses with fun prints, so that was my go-to uniform. Sadly, they're being neglected now!"

Emma chills outside of Blue Bottle Coffee in a Forever21 dress, H&M knitted top, BC Footwear shoes, and an Urban Outfitters backpack.
10 of 16
What's your philosophy when it comes to accessorizing?
"If we’re talking about jewelry, I wear very little, if any at all. I have these extra-thin gold rings that never leave my hands and a few brass bracelets that are worn on and off depending on my mood. Other than that, I rarely put anything else on. Honestly, this applies to the majority of my closet and how I dress myself — minimal."
11 of 16
What's the coolest thing about your line of work?
"It has its ups and downs — as does everything — but at the end of the day, I feel proud that I'm running the show and making it happen. I'm a business owner, a boss, an accountant, a designer, an assistant…the list goes on! I enjoy the challenge."
12 of 16
We're obsessed with your curly locks! What's your secret?
"Thank you! I use a combination of Catwalk, Curls Rock, and a dry-styling oil by Organix. If I let it run wild, you’d see a lot more frizzy ringlets, Shirley Temple style! I like to tame it by pulling those curls out a bit."
13 of 16
How do you feel your personal style has evolved over time?
"It's gone from bland and non-imaginative to colorful and adventurous!"

Emma in her light-soaked studio wearing Forever 21 pants, a Madewell top, BC Footwear shoes, and a beaded necklace from Etsy.
14 of 16
Name some of your favorite brands and designers.
"I wish my closet was full of The Kooples, Scotch & Soda, Orla Kiely, and Steven Alan."
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What are some of your favorite websites?
"To get a peek into cool people’s lives, I like to visit Freunde von Freunden. I love the style posts at Tales of Endearment, and the great photos at A Blog Named Scout. I also love Kinfolk for promoting a healthy and happy lifestyle! Oh, and a great blog for the latest in design, Design Work Life."
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If you weren't designing, what would you be doing?
"I think it would be magical to work in film. Not acting per se, but working on the actual creative side of it all. Well, it would be cool to be some awesome, beautiful actress, but I’m too timid to be in that kind of spotlight."

Photographed by Eva Kolenko