Intro to Evelyn Day
Evelyn is our resident chocolate artist. Pushing the boundaries with this incredible medium, she creates mind-blowing chocolate sculptures that truly look too good to eat. In this interview Evelyn shares advice and insight into her own journey, as well as her process of making art from chocolate. Warning, this interview might make you hungry!
Tell us about you, what art you like to make and how you got into art.
I’m a chocolate artist, originally born in Johannesburg South Africa. When I was 5 or 6 my dad returned from a business trip to Australia with a koala teddy for me. I sketched it in pencil and boom! that was when I learned I was creative. I fled from Apartheid with my family in the late 70s to the UK where I’ve been living more or less ever since.
I became a chocolate artist over the course of a few months around 8 years ago.
The story goes that a few years ago my friend and I were teasing my husband about his favourite cake being a Victoria Sponge cake. I said it wasn’t a “proper cake”! So to prove a point I offered to make my friend a “proper cake” aka “a chocolate cake” for her 50th birthday. I spent weeks perfecting the recipe and then started playing with chocolate and learning as I went by watching lots of videos online and researching obsessively. With my excitement it soon became “a chocolate explosion cake”. The cake was a huge success.
I continued to play with chocolate and shove pictures of my creations online. Then in February 2013 a friend asked if she could commission me. It was brilliant! It took me three days to make her cake and just for £25! I then got commission after commission and have continued to develop my love of chocolate and art ever since.
I have always loved chocolate and being creative is part of my very being so to be a chocolate artist kind of makes perfect sense.
My favorite art materials and art books are….
Well this is a little different from me as I use chocolate to create my art rather than traditional art materials. I do use tools similar to artist tools such as scalpels and palette knives. I use Callebaut couverture chocolate which is a Belgian chocolate with great quality cacao ingredients making it even more chocolatey than your usual confectioners chocolate. It is very versatile so I can make panels, pipe with it, make elements using mould and more. I love architecture especially lots of the iconic buildings from Brighton where I lived for 20 years. I have recently moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands and there are many beautiful buildings, castles and landmarks here for inspiration. My inspiration is from other chocolatiers rather than art books.
The best advice I have been given as an artist is….
What was life like before you became a member of United ArtSpace to now?
Before joining the Hub I felt quite isolated and unsure of what steps to take to start making proper income from my chocolate art. When I started working on the 7 Keys and most particularly my Why I became reconnected to how being creative is a core part of my being. I think the Hub is a fantastic resource and is very well created so that it is user-friendly and helpful. I particularly value the studio sessions on Friday as they help me get on with being creative as I have a tendency to procrastinate. I love creating when I can see the windows to everyone else creating in the studios on my monitor. It feels great to be a part of it. I’m very much looking forward to the sessions in January – Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet.
What has been your biggest achievement/s so far? No matter how big or small.
In 2016 I was asked to create a London Skyline in chocolate for the Chocolate Festival in London. I created 4 huge pieces – Gherkin, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and St Paul’s Cathedral. I also got paid generously for it! In 2019 I was filmed making 3 enormous chocolate sculptures for a C4 programme “Extreme Chocolate Makers”. You can still see the show on All4 – I’m on three episodes: 2, 3 and 10.
Last year I started creating products. My hot chocolate Brighton Pavilion lollipops were commissioned by the Royal Pavilion shop in Brighton and have been selling like hot cakes. I also had my Royal Pavilion Showpiece on show as part of the Royal Pavilion’s annual member’s event. It was wonderful to see my chocolate showpiece in the same room as Brancusi, Dali and other world famous art pieces.
What difficulties, doubts or fears have you faced and how did you overcome them?
It seems no matter what commission I have I always go through the “creative process” – I’ve got this great idea, I couldn’t possibly make it, oh it’s quite good, it’s terrible, I hate it, oh I’ve done it, it looks great! A couple of years ago I had a session with a business coach. She supported me as I worked on a commission and encouraged me to plan the process.
It made a huge difference. Now I plan my creations and depending on the piece will make a cardboard maquette first. Even though I resist planning I know that it actually really helps with the creative process.
If you could send advice back to yourself 5 years ago, what would you tell yourself?
Get some professional training asap. Don’t rely on making money from showpieces, make truffles, bonbons and products for bread and butter income.
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
Prioritise being creative. Everything else just gets in the way and there’s always more and more other things to do. Get up and get creative before doing anything else!
My favorite quote is….
“You have to try and make the world a better place in the time you have” Professor Sir Jeremy Farrer