Featured in Fireflyz Magazine, March Issue


There was an error in the article; please read ‘Girl From Perak’ as ‘Girl From Pahang’.

 Here’s the full article:

Colour me Happy
Self-taught illustrator and children’s book author Emila Yusof’s beautiful picture books are beginning to attract an international audience. Firefly met the Malaysian talent to find out where and how she produces her beautiful tomes.

Emila Yusof could be just the woman to engage children in reading. She fights on the side of paper in the war on technology, producing beautifully illustrated books that explode with colour and whimsical characters, introducing today’s youngsters to the world of gardens and crafts and capturing the imagination of the young through her words and pictures.

Picture Perfect

Malaysian-born Emila has been an established illustrator and author for the past few years, attracting the admiration of readers and industry insiders alike for her ability to create lovely stories and illustrate them with beauty and grace, and a healthy dose of vibrancy.

She has produced a set of alphabet books for children and illustrated the book The Legendary Princesses of Malaysia, but is perhaps best known for the charming, recurring character of Dina. Dina first appeared in the beautiful My Mother’s Garden and is now becoming an icon in her own right, accompanying Emila on her trips abroad.

While Emila has enjoyed a strong reputation and loyal audience on her home shores for some time, the rest of the world is finally sitting up and paying attention thanks to ongoing trips abroad to promote her work at various international book fairs. One of Emila’s books was recently picked up by a German publisher and is set to be translated, while another is being licenced for an online book animation in Taiwan – “I believe it’s a good start” Emila says humbly.

The Girl from Perak Pahang

International success as a book author and illustrator was far from the mind of the young Emila growing up in Perak, who harboured dreams of being a fashion designer but had a drawing pencil firmly in her hand from the age of five. “It is in me,” she says, “I just have to draw.”

Her creative instincts led to a career as a graphic designer, before she moved into illustrating in 2007 and finally to her role as an author in 2010. The move to create her own picture books was one prompted by an inability to find ones she liked, drawing on the world around her to create books that sing with Malaysian culture and traditions.

Her books have proved popular with the young audience for whom they are intended, but her skills have also caused a flurry of invitations to attend events and appear at workshops, both in Malaysia and abroad.

An Online Story

Emila’s unexpected journey to fame has been documented on her blog Emilatopia since 2005, an award-winning site where she records her thoughts, her achievements, her latest creations and some jealousy-inducing photographs from her travels around the world.

“Blogging is an important platform to get more people to discover my artworks and books,” she explains, “and it has helped to get comments on how I can improve my art.”

There seems to be little space for improvement in the beautiful works Emila has created so far, which appear in alongside text in both English and Malay and sparkle with colour and fun.

Her inspiration is drawn from travel: “The world is made-up of all sorts of colours, I love the richness and vibrancy of it (Oh, I love autumn!). And I think that is reflected in my work, the highly saturated and vibrant colours.”

There is also a distinctive Malaysian style to her books, which Emila feels is important to “keep people aware of the things we have in our country.”

Hard Work

While globe-trotting serves to get the ideas flowing, Emila creates her work from her home in the Malaysian capital, trying to maintain focus on drawing with a husband, son and cat in tow. “The tight deadlines are tough for me,” she admits. “I have to balance my work with the household chores.”

While many marvel at her whimsical creations and imaginative work, Emila had no formal training and remains adamant that skills such as hers can be learnt “as long as you have the passion to draw” she stresses.

Her passion continues to produce a steady stream of fine creations, with forthcoming works including Dina’s reappearance in My Father’s Farm and others that have yet to come to life under her pen.

Keep an eye on Emilatopia to keep tabs on the humble Malaysian, admire her images on Instagram (emilayusof), or visit her agent to see how you can get your hands on her books (http://www.yusofgajahlingard.com/emila-yusof.html).

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GayaTravel 8.1 Cover and Em’s Diary

I’m back in KL! 3 days trip to Hong Kong is so short. Hope to visit again someday.

Got a copy of GayaTravel magazine in my hands. Yay, happy to see my illustration on the cover as well my own column: Em’s Travel Diary.

But please do take note that as the magazine didn’t use any of my vectors, I feel that the statement “…so I said yes; not to just this diary and the cover but also the many vector arts you see in this magazine”  in Em’s Travel Diary (page 110-111; line 21) is totally obsolete. It should be read as “…so I said yes; not to just this diary but also the cover”.

Nonetheless, I am happy to see the cover and my Em’s Travel Diary spread column. Now working on next diary entry for Issue 8.2. Thanks GayaTravel team!

I have 5 copies to give away to first 5 commenters who completed this sentence, ” I want GayaTravel magazine because….”



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Em’s Travel Diary – my own column!!

This year has been great so far for me and I am happy that I am given a chance to write and illustrate in a spread column (2-page) in Gaya Travel magazine. I can never imagine, in a thousand years, that this will be happening.

It all started when a friend, Rayyan Haries, tweeted me about wanting to feature my artwork on a cover of a magazine; Gaya Travel. I later I set an appointment with him and met with the Creative Director, Sharm, and we discussed about what he had in mind for the magazine’s new look and feel. I showed some of my artworks online and out of spontaneity, Sharm offered me a spread in this magazine to write and draw. Like seriously?

Of course, I’ll be crazy not to accept it…so I said yes! Truly happy and I am all thankful to Rayyan and Gaya Travel team!

And my current blog header is to mark my first journey being a columnist.

Here’s a snapshot of my column.



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Featured on the cover of Gaya Travel Magazine

Some of you were already aware that I am illustrating for a magazine but I did not mentioned it previously as I want them to break the news. Since the news was already out this morning on facebook, I sure am excited to add to the buzz.

Here is the cover I illustrated for Gaya Travel Magazine. Do look out for the issue at you nearest bookstores (will update the locations).

Final version of Gaya Travel Magazine cover, Issue 8.1.

Previously it was done in the form of digital vector but somehow it seemed to be flat, and I tend to agree with that. So I drew again using traditional medium; watercolor.

Preliminary vector illustration

The proportion of the watercolor work did not match with the vector, so the team had to cut the traveller image as you can see in the final cover above. It was all my fault as I was lazy to do the proportion calculation. Anyway, it turns out great too. The masthead color really makes the cover stands out.

Don’t forget to get a copy of the magazine, ok. Should be out next week. Here’s the better version of the cover in full.


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