FK chats to artist and designer Sarah Pook about her label Little Quarters and journey of becoming an artist. Escape in Sarah’s beautiful work at the upcoming Melbourne Markets!
How would you describe your style of artwork and how has this evolved?
Wild animals, skulls, feathers, bohemian beauties and enchanting flowers are a mad mix of whimsical meets dark and edgy. I like to focus predominately on traditional techniques, fine intricate pencil detail, contrasted with bold inky shapes, which stain the paper in an unpredictable and organic manner. I like to incorporate ‘old’ techniques into my art. Like my LQ wax seal, which has become a signature element to my illustrations. I also love the use of paper embossing and hand detailed gold foil embellishments that complement my pencil work. These old techniques have become strong elements within my work, and a bit of an obsession. I am constantly trying new mediums to test my abilities and expand my skills, growing and evolving my body of work, as well as myself as an illustrator.
What is your background and when did you start illustrating?
At the end of 2013 I quit my day job as an established Graphic Designer. I built a successful career working within the fashion industry over the past 9 years, focusing my time in graphic, fashion and textile design as well as specialising in screen-printing, print, styling and yardage design. My detailed designs and illustration work which I created for a couple of Australia’s leading street wear companies has helped build and expand several labels from local to international brands and is a body of work that I am incredibly proud of. It is through my time as a Graphic Designer that I have been able to build a sturdy platform to take that leap of faith into pursuing my own art career full time… and so Little Quarters was born. I have recently relocated from Sydney and am now based south of Melbourne on the Surf Coast. The recent passing of my beautiful big sister to cancer has shown me that life really is too short and precious not to do what you love and to love what you do.
What inspires your work and where do you head for regular inspiration?
The meanings and inspirations behind my illustration work is not always clear to me. I’m a bit of a collector. I am attracted to and surround myself with beautiful things, often pieces found on my travels. I must have been a bowerbird in a past life! I try to create that very thing I search for, for others to collect. Pieces with a special uniqueness and that tell a story. I want to take my audience on an adventure within my work, ignite their imagination and let them be free to run wild there.
Things that inspire me; travel, different cultures, nature, people, bohemian life, music, movies, interior/fashion magazines, and other creative minds.
What are your preferred mediums to work with?
I like to focus predominately on traditional techniques, I like to challenge myself by leaving the computer and illustrating by hand. My preferred mediums to use are HB graphite pencil and Aches 300GSM smooth paper. I use a variety of leads however I LOVE my 0.3mm HB black lead technical pencil. I’m often experimenting with water colour, pigment ink, black indian ink and prisma colour pencils. My pieces are mostly black and white with only hints of colour.
Describe your workspace and your creative process.
I work in my studio, which is on the second level of my home. It has incredible natural light, which fills the room from large glass doors that open right up onto a small deck. It looks over a quiet street and I am lucky enough to have views of the ocean in the distance. It’s the BEST, it is my happy space!
My creative process consists of:
Researching, nutting out ideas and the composition of an illustration with rough sketches… sometimes too many, and then settling down to create the final piece. I need to be in a good frame of mind, some of the illustrations I work on are incredibly detailed and take hours/ days to complete and if I’m just not feeling it, it’s better to stay away from the drawing table and focus on the business stuff for that day.
Usually my day plays out a little like this:
• Getting up early for a walk on the beach with my Frenchie Perro. (resets, focuses and is the best way to start the day)
• A strong coffee is a must!
• Emails, packaging prints then a post office drop/ deliveries.
• Research, sketching then onto my drawing table for the rest of the day.
What advice would you give other artists/illustrators starting out?
BE A GO GETTER! If it makes you happy, and you have passion for it, do it! If you can’t do it (right now) put steps in place to make it happen. You can build your own empire, instead of working for someone else that will pay you to build theirs! If you work hard and put your energy in the right direction you can do what ever you want! I think sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that.
DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. Create to produce beautiful quality pieces, work hard and don’t sell yourself short to get ahead. Create for yourself, if you love what you do, others will too.
What kind of clients have you worked with, and what have been some of your favourite projects?
My focus so far has been on building my business and creating the Little Quarters brand, releasing my range of Limited Edition Prints, expanding into home wares, and in the early stages of expanding in other areas. I have a beautiful little collaboration, which is well underway, and I hope to share it with you all in time for FK so stay tuned. I have recently illustrated a wine label for the award winning winery, Head Wines from the Barossa Valley, which has just been released and is stunning.
I have been so fortunate to have a steady stream of work float through my email since deciding to focus on Little Quarters full time. My stockist list is expanding throughout Australia and even overseas. I work on a lot of commissioned illustrations for various private collections and I am now starting to attract businesses and other like-minded creative’s to collaborate with. It has all come about quiet naturally, which has been really nice.
My favourite and most rewarding milestone of late has been the recent sales of a handful of my original illustrations. All of which have sold from private enquiries.
What aspirations do you have for the future and what would be your dream project?
It has been great to watch my business grow so far and I look forward to pursuing my work further and seeing the business evolve. Little Quarters is receiving a great response and all in all it’s pretty dam exciting! In the future I hope to work with or along side some of my all-time favourite Australian artists. I would LOVE to collaborate with an interior magazine. I have a growing love and obsession for interiors and styling and would love to combine my illustration work in this area somehow. And of course work towards a body of work for my first solo exhibition.