Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Super Star Interviews: Sarah Walsh

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month pleased as punch to be chatting it up with rockstar Illustrator, Sarah Walsh! I’ve been a big fan for a longtime and it was a treat getting to dish with Sarah about all things themed “illustration life.” Sarah received her BFA in graphic design from St. Rose in Albany, NY, where she grew up. Her love of mid century design, typography and vintage children's book illustration become the foundation for entering into the exciting art world. She landed a job at Hallmark Cards as in-house Designer and Illustrator. After several years she decided to branch off on her own and joined the Lilla Rogers agency. Sarah has worked on coloring books for all ages, children's board books, activity books, toy product, home decor, apparel and greeting cards. She currently lives in Kansas City with her fellow Illustrator husband, Colin Walsh, their son, a scrappy pup and chubby cat. You can view more of her artwork here!

Gorgeous chickie! Fabulous styling!

Q: What is a typical workday in the studio like for you? Set the scene (workspace, materials, accessories) and describe your creative flow (rituals, inspiration, process).

A: Coffee first! Then some morning snuggles with my toddler, and a laugh or two with my husband, fellow Illustrator, Colin Walsh. Then I drop off my little one to daycare and it's off to the races. I look at my planner to make sure there's nothing urgent and bring a second cup of joe downstairs to the art cave. I've been trying to delve right into a personal piece even if it's just for 15 minutes in my sketchbook. Everyday seems to be so different, but on average, no matter what, I use procrastination as a tool to do personal work! When I begin a project, I always like to do research on Pinterest, look at my book collection, take a walk, go out and about to shops that might carry product in the vein of what my project is. In the afternoon, when energy starts to run low and I need to hear a human voice, I switch up the music and go to Podcasts. I really love Andy J Miller's “Create A Peptalk” and  The Jealous C urators “Art for Your Ears.” Found is really good, too!

You know you totally want to color these guys!!

Q: Often a woman’s identity as an artist and her identity as a mama feeds and conflicts with each other. Dish with us a bit about your experiences as an Artist Mama.

A: This is really tough. When I quit my full-time gig as a Designer/Illustrator at Hallmark cards, I became a mom to a newborn, but I also had a coloring book due every month of his first 3-4 months of life. It was very, very stressful. I didn't really get a maternity leave when I really think about it! That said, I love the organic schedule of freelance, because I can spend more time with our little guy. He's in daycare 3 days a week so I work then and at night. My workday seems to fly by and there is never enough time to do all the things I want to do. Sometimes I wish I had more time to focus on my craft, but he's only going to be little once! It's such a magical time and I'm so grateful I can be there to witness it.

Gather your woodland critters around! What sound does a moose make?

Q: Give us the scoop on your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.

A: I designed a holiday collection, and two paper mache' animal heads (tiger and moose) for Land of Nod that's out right now and I'm really excited about all of it. Designing the animals in 3-d form was fun.

The "I Like" book by Compendium is a book I'm really proud of. It's an activity book for kids, but it could also pose as a time capsule for their life. Using creative prompts and illustrations, it helps them explore their interests and what's important to them. The writing is very quirky so it's bound to bring out the personality in a child.

The other fave project is the coloring books I mentioned. Quarry approached me to do 3 "adult" coloring books. The themes were Circus, Carnivale and Day Of The Dead. This was 2013 and the adult coloring book scene had not exploded yet. They gave me a lot of creative freedom, and although it was a stressful pace, because I was taking care of a newborn with no daycare, it became my "me" time and I could just doodle away and get lost in my own imagination.

A current favorite project, I think, is a children's book that I'm working on, but I can't talk about it very much!

Super fun! Let's draw, write, dream!

Q: How do you balance personal artwork with client artwork? Personal instincts with marketable trends?

A: Fortunately my client work is always usually a fun project that I would do on a personal level anyway. And a lot of the client work stems from a personal piece that I made! So it works out.

Personal instincts with marketable trends? I always love to see what the trends are, but I never force it. I usually let my inner compass guide me. I think the key is to always be curious about things. Observe things. People. The news. The shows that I'm into. Music I'm diggin'. These interests usually add a level to my ideas or give it a twist in some way. And like I mentioned before, sometimes procrastinating helps! I scratch the doodle itch even if I have an encroaching deadline, because doing a personal piece gives me an energy burst and enables me to finish the project strong with a renewed sense of excitement for the project. Which is always going to be good for the client.

Talk about stylish celebrations! Super star, indeed!

Q: You first began your illustration career at Hallmark. What lessons/skills did you learn/acquire there that have proven key in supporting you as a freelancer?

A: So many things! I learned how to hone my work ethic and strengthen the muscle of delivering the artwork on time. When you start off in the industry it's really scary and you think to yourself "Can I give them what they need in the time that they need it and also feel good about the artwork I'm delivering?" Yes! In doing that over and over again for several years that muscle become so strong that now that I'm in freelance, I never really doubt that I can finish it. I know it's going to get done on time, because my skills have been tested and proven through 13 years of experience.

I also learned how to communicate more professionally with AD's. It's so important to know how to explain your idea. It's also good to know when to stop trying to explain it and just show them.

Modern holiday cheer!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Even though I love making things on the weekends, I try to reserve my time and focus for family, friends and fun times. Being outside in the fall months, stopping at a coffee shop, maybe going to a bookstore or finding some really cool treasure is my idea of an awesome Sunday. Maybe having dinner with friends later, ending with a cocktail and a good Netflix show with my hubs!

Thank you so much, Sarah, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! So totally fabulous!

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