I love the chance this series has given me to get to know so many interesting, talented women. Sarah is no exception. She is a brilliant illustrator, devoted mother and a great blogger! Today she talks about how all of those things blend together and influence each other.
Your illustrations have this wonderful vintage look to them, like something that would be equally at home in an antique children's book or on the wall of a modern nursery. What are some of the children's books (or other things) that inspire you?
I grew up reading lots and lots of picture books. My mother LOVED picture books and even went as far to take a children's lit class in college just because she loved it so much. She even had her very own box of picture books that she grew up with that we were not allowed to read on our own (they were falling apart!) and from that...I gained a great love respect of the vintage children's books beyond my era. Rie Cramer (German) is a favorite illustrator of mine. I love Carl Larssen also, and the list goes on and on. Why I love the illustrations so much however, is more because of what they portray rather than style. There is an certain type of innocence to children that I feel is lost in modern illustration. My own children and my own childhood are probably my biggest inspirations, and I am so lucky to be surrounded by both every day!
You've talked about how creating has always been a part of your
life even from when you were a child. It seems you've been able to
hang on to that natural creativity and fearlessness about creating that
children have. What advice would you give to an adult who feels like
they've lost that or that they simply aren't creative?
This is a great question. I think that as we age, we naturally close ourselves off to what can be, and reach more for what has
to be. For me, doing the dishes and laundry and paying bills and
sleepless nights are my life. But if I were to focus on that, I would
me miserable. When I focus on love and fun and nurturing at home, that
creativity naturally comes out. I believe that when we as adults start
to see each day as a chance to explore and learn new things, we all
have creativity inside us that can't help but become manifest. I also
think that by watching children, we can learn how to not have fear. I
love that my children have complete confidence that when they scribble
a line on a paper, it's frame worthy. It reminds me to stay fresh and
alive in what I love to do.
Many modern artists espouse the idea that art is what the viewer
interprets it as, that they, as the artist, have no control (or
responsibility) over how their art is received by or impacts the
world. As an artist, do you aim to convey certain messages through
your art or hope to affect a certain impact on the world?
As an artist, and especially as an artist with a need to share and communicate to others, this is very important. I do, however, know that if your art is only created for this purpose, it will be flat and shallow; contrived even. But when the idea and design comes from a genuine place, it will be received and recognized as authentic and of value. In my genre, I choose to use a very specific style (vintage illustration) but when coming up with the compositions, colors, and characters, I have to make sure they come from a genuine place, or they will be flat. But I do hope to portray innocence of childhood, simplicity of childhood and a sweetness that is what I know and experience in my own life in a way others will feel attracted to.
To me you seem like a progressive pioneer; do you think so too? In what way?
When I first heard of your blog, I thought "I love that title!" I agree. We all are. And we all have the capability to be. I think that maybe I am one, like so many of us, simply because I am not satisfied with what is in front of me. I want to challenge it and make it happen. I was searching for vintage style illustration for my own daughter when she was born, and it was all so "dick and jane" (which i love, don't get me wrong!) but i wanted something that was new...fresh...and reflected how I felt about my children. So in some ways, i feel like a pioneer, because I saw a challenge and went after it. Motherhood itself is the greatest pioneering adventure....illustration and design takes a back seat to that hands down...but I like to take on the hat of "pioneer" in anything I do.
I love your attitude towards mothering, how you embrace it, rejoice in it and draw attention to the beautiful art that it can be. What sorts of things do you think mothers need to remind themselves of to keep it all in perspective?
Well, I will be giving myself my own medicine here, for sure. The challenge with motherhood, is it is just so exhausting. I don't care how much someone can say they love it, and are so happy being a mother (as I most definitely am) but it is really hard work. And when we are tired and physically spent, it's hard to see the roses all the time. (Can you tell I am still up with a newborn at nights?:) So what I would say to all mothers, is take each moment for the moment that it is. Really feel those hugs. Really listen when they sing to you. Really show them the world they are getting adjusted to. Really show interest in their interests. Remember that every day is a new day to love them, to create with them, and to express to them how valued they are....and to not get so hard on yourself that your house doesn't look like a magazine feature. It's about the moments we connect with them, not about the results at the end of the day.