[Interview conducted by Mary Volk.]
Tell me a little about yourself.
I am from Minnesota, and have lived in Washington, D.C., Barcelona, San Francisco and now Philadelphia. I am a packaging designer for a firm in San Francisco, and work with clients like Ocean Spray, Dentyne, Lipton and Pepsi. I am engaged to a fabulously supportive man, Jon, who is in medical school. We have two cats, Papi Chulo and Hamachi, who provide me with endless comedy and distraction. I am really into cooking, seeing puppies on walks, and dreaming of the beach.
When did you become interested in art?
Growing up, my dad was really into doing projects with me, he sewed my halloween costumes and we built things together. I think he really exposed me to using my hands to create. Before college, I hadn’t really ever taken a fine art class before except for the required credits in middle school (I can’t draw to save my life), but I was always into crafts; making necklaces, mosaics, latch hook rugs, making candles. Then during college, I spent my junior year in Barcelona, Spain and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I needed art in my life!
How did you discover your talent for art, design, and screen printing?
I think design for me is 20% talent and 80% really hard work. There are some people who just pick up a pencil and draw something fabulous, but for me, it is more of a challenge but that is what makes it fun. I am not an artsy-type who just goes with the flow and whatever happens, happens. I plan and measure and plan more and calculate and measure again. That is what I like about graphic design, it is a blend of science and art, cerebral and creative. Screen printing plays off of that same idea for me, I use the computer to scale designs and predetermine which colors I want to use, but then I get to get dirty and use my hands to create the finished product.
What things, people, and places have influenced your art?
Spain has been the biggest influence on me thus far. The food, the wine, the art, the people, the practicality of everything is really inspirational to me. Travel in general is always good, even if it is just for a morning walk around the neighborhood to see, smell and hear something new. As far as artists go, Rex Ray is amazing, his use of color and texture makes me melt. I love Nate Williams, he does the most quirky, fun typography and illustration. Antoni Gaudí, a catalán architect famous for his modernist buildings in Barcelona, took some serious risks, and I love him for that. Also Frank Lloyd Wright, the way that he built around the land and the path of the sun, he really began the green movement!
How did you find out about etsy?
I was at a farmers' market in Boston last year and met a woman who sold wooden bowls that she carved from downed trees on her property. I got her business card, and a link to her Etsy website!
What do you think about etsy and the handmade movement?
I think it is great for both creators and consumers. People like me who could never afford to start their own store now have an outlet for their crafts.
Why did you decide to start selling your art?
I just like seeing it up there next to such amazing products. It feels good to have this sort of record of what I do, and if it sells or if someone else likes it, even better!
What are your favorite materials and why?
Paper and fabric are what I really like to use. I must admit that I am still trying to narrow down what my shop will sell. Every day I see something else that I want to try, so it is really difficult to sort of hone in on what I really like to make. Stay tuned!
When did your first get involved in screen printing?
I took a class in college and loved it, but I really hadn’t planned for how quickly I had to move, and some of my creations ended up less than perfect. When I moved to Philadelphia this past summer, I took a continuing education class at the University of the Arts to try to meet new people and to create my "Two Fish" Card that I had designed. It was awesome, and my teacher, Marisha Simmons, was so supportive. She taught us how to create our own at-home studio which I am in the process of finishing right now.
How do you feel your day job as a package designer influences or affects your art?
It is interesting, I love the process of creating something and then going to the grocery store and seeing it on the shelf! I always feel like during the day I design things that are eye catching, and scream out to the consumer, and then at night I like to make quiet things that speak softly.
Where do your ideas come from? Can you describe your creative process (how, when, materials, etc.)?
Just being out in nature and building off of other things I see. I like to sketch and also use resource material from books and the web to create. Tracing paper is a must, and a big fat eraser.
What are your favorite hobbies and activities besides crafting?
Rock climbing with my boyfriend, hiking, going to the gym, cooking, playing with my cats and refurbishing old furniture.
What challenges have you found in your work?
Remembering to create what I like instead of making things that I think other people will like. I have to trust in the fact that some people will like it, and others won’t and that is okay! Practicing drawing, I try to sketch everyday, but it is hard for me, especially people and animals.
What are your goals in having an Etsy shop?
Just to try to connect with people who will enjoy my products. I think there are so many amazing artists, to have even one person buy something you made is something to be proud of.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on Etsy, or thinking about trying to sell their art?
Go for it! It is so easy, and it is a great way to learn the basics of running a business.
Sarah's Website: RedRedOrange.esty.com