Happy Finish make images look great with their very special touch. They have worked on front covers for publications such as Vogue, Tatler, Muse, Elle and recently with Schön!. The brilliant Emma Jacob produced the beautiful 14th issue cover featuring model Rick Genest, and we didn’t resist on finding out more about her promising career.
Check it out!
Schön!: Where did you study? And what was the course you took?
Emma: I studied a design degree at Middlesex University. It was a great multi disciplined course and gave me a structured understanding of many aspects of design from the ideas stage to final product construction. However since my teens my true passion had always been illustration, so after initially working as a graphic designer when I graduated, I soon decided to take the plunge and became a freelance illustrator.
Schön!: How did you get the job at Happy Finish?
I was really lucky! I’d been freelancing for around 3 years by this time but in 2008 the economic climate meant there were smaller budgets and less projects out there for a relatively new freelancer like myself. I decided at this point to look at other creative possibilities where my illustration and design skills could be utilised.
I came across Happy Finish on the Association of Illustrators website, where they were offering a training scheme to assist senior retouchers over the course of 1 to 2 years. Although I had little retouching experience at the time I applied and was fortunate enough to be taken on by Chris Roome as his assistant. It was definitely the best decision I could have made!
My background in illustration really helped me make the transition into retouching. In fact many of the retouchers at Happy Finish have an illustration background as it is important understand the form of the body and to be able to create elements from scratch in Photoshop.
Schön: You have had your work featured in some of the most illustrious magazines including Vanity Fair, Wonderland and Rogue. Is fashion your passion or would you like to divert into other areas of retouching?
Emma: Fashion retouching is always very exciting. It’s great to see new trends before anyone else and to work on beautiful images. I really enjoyed working with photographer, Matthew Lyn on the Rick Genest story for Schön! magazine as the whole project had a fantastic concept. It’s often the case with editorials that photographers have more creative freedom, so it’s a real pleasure to make sure the final images look the way the photographer has envisioned!
However the whole team at Happy Finish are constantly trying out new techniques and its great to exchange ideas with other retouchers. For example a retoucher who works mainly on car or product images may use the same tools in a completely different way.
Schön!: What would be your dream project?
Emma: That’s a hard question! I recently completed a beauty advertorial for Bourjois and loved the level of detailed retouching required in perfecting the hair and skin. At the moment I would have to say a project involving this kind of level of detail would be my dream project.
5. You worked for a year and a half assisting Chris Roome, a world famous retoucher. What do you feel you have gained from this experience?
Emma: I gained a huge amount of experience from Chris, his work is amazing and it was such an experience to be assisting him on projects ranging from international Vogue covers to campaigns for brands such as D&G.
However I think the most important skill he taught me was how to colour grade. You have to train your eye to understand slight variations in colour that can be used to create a perfect mood and atmosphere, that in turn can completely transform an image. I remember back when I started I’d be watching him work and I’d just say to him in awe “it’s like magic!”
Schön!: Is there a particular persons work you admire?
Emma: I love everyone’s work at Happy Finish! All the retouching portfolios are of outstanding quality. For fashion retouching I would have say Jackie Williams and Kasia Kret as they both have progressed on the same path from being assistants to now having their own clients.
Schön!: What do you find the most enjoyable part of the retouching process?
Emma: I would have to say colour grading as this really sets the mood of a story or image. When I was working on the Rick Genest story Matthew really wanted us to get the colour right, so that’s what I mainly concentrated on. He wanted the tattoos to really stand out in the images and that’s what we strived to achieve throughout the story.
Schön!: What’s been your favourite moment as a retoucher so far?
Emma: I think my favourite moment as a retoucher was seeing the first cover I ever worked on. It was for Rogue magazine and I was so excited when the first issue arrived. To be honest every time I see something I have worked on published I get extremely happy!
Schön!: What are you working on at the moment?
Emma: I’m afraid I can’t say, it’s all cloak and dagger until it is released!
Schön!: How do you relax and unwind from work? What are your other passions?
Emma: I have to admit I’m a bit of a film fanatic, especially Sci-fi and Fantasy genres. They’re also great inspiration for colour. Avatar is a great example of this, I remember when it came out Chris was looking at still images from the film and commented that the light and colours of the “fluorescent” plants were similar to a recent Swarovski advert. The main problem with retouching is that you are constantly getting inspired by everything you see!