Hailing from the UK, Sarah Beetson is an Australia- based illustrator renowned for her bright, striking prints. We caught up with the internationally successful artist to talk about her inspirations, why she loves fashion and what’s in store for 2016.
Have you ever looked back at the first art works that you created? How do they make you feel?
SB: I actually keep my first set of figures on the wall. I look at them and I think to myself, ‘this is where I started. This is the essence of it’.
How many years have you been working before this all happened for you?
SB: I graduated in 2002 and then did a lot of internships in the fashion industry. I've worked for Stella McCartney and Mary Portas, I actually recently drew her kids for her. Around 2005 I got an agent and began to get commissions. I also joined a part time indie office and managed all of their artists' portfolios, and from there became their talent scout. I still do that now in London and New York, all from here.
You’re from the UK, why are you here in Australia?
SB: I actually came here on holiday. I was living in London and rent was just so expensive. A lot of my squatter friends were Australians and I said to myself ‘I can afford a ticket, why not just go for a few weeks?' I landed in Melbourne and decided to stay. The agency was really good about it; Skype was just coming into play, and with everything becoming online it meant I could continue my work in Melbourne. I’ve met my boyfriend here and I can now afford to spend 2-3 month in London and New York each year. I’m just fortunate that I started my career when I did, because the internet meant I could live in Australia and still be able to work for the people I wanted to work for.
Would you consider yourself successful?
SB: I look back to the days when I was working and couldn't pay rent, and I didn’t worry about money because I was doing what I love. Now, I feel I’ve definitely found success. I'm so lucky to have the lifestyle that I have. I can travel while I work and still get paid.
Will you do this for the rest of your life?
SB: If I can still get work and do projects like this, absolutely.
How is Brisbane responding to you and your art work?
SB: Really well so far, everyone is really nice. The response here has been amazing, I don't know whether it's a small industry here or if Brisbane is just really supportive. I feel like there are lots of opportunities here for art.
As an artist you are constantly evolving. Do you ever feel insecure about what you're putting out there and giving people?
SB: Oh definitely! I try to involve people through social media and answer any questions they may have. I'm always finding new techniques to hone-in, and perfecting my existing skills. I'm always trying to think ahead, and I believe that the best way to do that is to keep creating and developing your skills. One of the best things I learnt in fashion was the power of research. Researching things that interest you instead of just taking its face value is really important.
What do you do to overcome a creative block?
SB: I usually try and take things in. I look at other artists, but I like to look to other creative arts such as sculpture, film, fashion and literature. I find one of the best ways of getting rid of a creative block is putting the timer on for a minute and just drawing. You can create 40 drawings in half an hour, some you'll hate and some you'll love and it really helps to get things moving.
Why do you love fashion?
SB: I think it comes from my value of colour and texture. I went to art school when I was younger and I started reading alternative fashion magazines where they combined couture with boxing helmets in their shoots, and I just wanted to look at them every day. There's so much freedom in fashion and it's such a creative platform. I think that's why I'm so drawn to it.
Exotically John Galliano
Does it ever get lonely being a creative?
SB: Not really, because nowadays with social media, you've got that connection if you want it. I'm a social creature, I love being inspired by life and people, but sometimes I really need the solitude. I have that space to create and it’s nice to not have people looking over your shoulder.
Are you left handed or right handed?
SB: You know, I'm right handed but I'm definitely right, left handed and left footed (like when I used to play soccer). It's so funny isn't it!
What's next for you?
SB: I have a job coming up that involves New York, and that's all I’m allowed to say. I'm not too sure if it will involve a trip. I said that I wasn't going to travel a lot this year, it's meant to be a year where I stay home, work hard and have my full materials at my disposal (not just my little travelling scanner). But it's a New York based job and I don't have to go, but obviously I would love to. There's also a potential romance comic book in the works. That would be my first time in the comic world, so it's very exciting!
Artwork supplied by Sarah Beetson.