SARAH HOWELL

2CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

SH: My work sits somewhere between art and illustration, not sure which it is or if they are the same thing now! I use a lot of collage and painting but it all comes together on the computer. I would describe my style as Surreal Pop Ornamentalism.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

SH: I’m inspired by other illustrators and graphic designers, painters and fashion. I love trawling the web for bizarre vintage images and artwork. Pinterest is a godsend because I can catalogue all my inspiration and remind myself what caught my eye aesthetically. All my work is figurative, landscapes don’t interest me that much for my own work. I prefer to see bodies and animals. I liken it to seeing someones holiday snaps, for me it’s more fun looking at people than at a random scene.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

SH: I actually don’t have much of a creative thought process when starting, I just try to focus on a small idea or object, like a snake and then layer and create and see it evolve, almost from a removed point of view.  Time seems to take on another dimension when creating artwork, it’s like a daydream and then you focus and 2 hours has flown by. I often stand back from a work and go “weird” how did that happen?!?!

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

SH: I love the idea that art can be purely aesthetic and I don’t want my work to be difficult or laborious for the viewer. I like to create things that are inspiring and joyful to watch and people can take whatever they want away from it, there’s no right or wrong, just visual fun and beauty. Most of my family and friends aren’t artistic so it’s interesting to hear unbiased points of view which aren’t coloured by years of university, conceptualism and over thinking.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

SH: My studio is in my basement so I work from home which is wonderful and I’m very lucky. Like any job I have my good days and friday afternoons drag! I would imagine my lifestyle is very much like anyone else’s…gone are the days of lying around on an opium bed, being louche and fabulous. It’s work!

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

SH: It depends on the job and client. If it’s a commission there are obvious briefs I have to stick to, such as colours, content, dimensions and advertising is very strictly navigated. But for my personal work I really do just see what happens. I’ve learnt that although time is money in art, mistakes can be binned and I can always start again if something isn’t working so it’s fun to be impulsive.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

SH: That being an artist is just like any other job. Working hard and pushing yourself and evolving is important to get ahead. Meeting deadlines and organisation are really key if you want to keep your job! My personal artistic style always has to evolve otherwise things become stagnant.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

SH: Personally, I think style and taste are so abstract that I don’t think about it at all which is funny as I’m starting my own silk textile label! Individual expression is of the highest importance, whether taste comes into it is another matter.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

SH: For me the hardest thing about being a professional artist is also the best thing. There isn’t an off button, I’m at work 24/7 because my work is my pleasure and vice versa. It’s hard to switch off and have a weekend because I’m always thinking about creating and then when I burnout I’m still expected to produce artwork.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

SH: The freedom of doing what I love for a living! Put it this way, I’m sitting in a dressing gown covered in paint while I write this at 11am.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

SH: Martin Sharp is one of my heros (R.I.P). Whenever I feel a slump or I’m looking at one of my artworks and it’s not working I look to his work to get a shot of inspiration. He was so loose and experimental and his work never fails to excite me.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

SH: Technology is useful for everything. It’s another medium for artists. It’s like a brush or a pencil, you still have to be skilled at it for it to work for you. Years ago when I was using photoshop for my work, some people thought that it was a trick or substitute and somehow the computer did all the work for me. I’d say technology is absolutely vital for artists at the moment, not only as a means of expression but also as a means of marketing and pr and getting yourself a fan base.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

SH: I’m not sure as I don’t know how other people view their world. It’s all very personal, subjective and ultimately unexplainable how you view your own world.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

SH: I love travelling! Well, I love adventure in other places, I actually hate the travelling bit. Life is a journey and not the destination and all that but sitting on a plane for 23 hours is just horrible. I lived in London for so long that I got complacent about being able to nip around Europe. I’ve missed out on a lot of South East Asia and I’m making up for it now! My favourite place or perhaps experience was India. It was absolutely packed with wonders and sounds and craziness, definitely not a country for the faint-hearted!

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

SH: I recently read a book called White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. It is wonderful, you must read it!

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

SH: As an artist I’d like to cross a few more boundaries, I’m currently setting up a new fashion label with my artwork on silk textiles and scarves. I have always wanted to be in the MCA and they started stocking my scarves last year so I can technically say to my folks that I’ve achieved my dreams! Starting over again in Sydney has given me an opportunity to meet all sorts of curators and gallery owners and build new relationships so I’m excited about that.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

SH: It means I’m very lucky as I get to express my self through my work everyday.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

SH: A picture tells a thousand words so I’ll leave that up to the viewer.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: SARAH HOWELL

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