Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now.
Hi, my name is Sarah and I run Guerilla Embroidery, my little company where I make artwork for commission and exhibition, and run arts workshops. I studied Embroidery at MMU, and graduated in 2006. I have been published in several books, most recently in Machine Stitch: Perspectives, edited by Alice Kettle, and HOOPLA: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery, by Leanne Praine. In the past I have run workshops for Manchester Fashion Week, Creative Partnerships, Calderdale Council and Playstation 3. Presently I am working on several different bodies of work: one which originates in my ‘Home Invasion’ concept (which is featured in HOOPLA), and the other explores the dichotomy of tattooing and embroidery.
How long have you been using sketchbooks?
I have been using sketchbooks since my GCSEs (and I still have every single one – very useful for my teaching.) My most prolific sketchbook time was during my art foundation course, I think I must have used upwards of 30 sketchbooks in less than a year!
How often do you sketch?
I probably don’t sketch as much as I ought to – nowadays I tend to use my sketchbook to plan things, so they contain a lot of writing in and amongst the drawings. I also used to spend hours doing beautiful drawings in my books which would then be ‘trapped’ in there. I have started to move my more extended drawings out and onto paper for this reason.
How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
I find it pretty scary – all those beautiful white pages! I feel like I want to do it justice. Of course, all this is very self inflicted. I am sure I didn’t used to feel the same apprehension as I do now about starting a new sketchbook, especially when I was at college!
When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
Typically, I usually get a lot of inspiration when I am trying to go to sleep, so for better or worse I tend to keep a sketchbook next to my bed. I also like to take one with me on visits, so I can do drawings. I tend to like to draw natural or interesting objects, so I love going to the museum to draw.
How would you describe your creative process?
An idea will occur to me, and I will draw little sketches/ plans in my book, alongside a lot of writing explaining my ideas. This happens quite a lot, and only certain ideas will get to the next stage. I like to look back at my old sketchbooks every now and again, and see if I had a flash of inspiration at one point that is ripe for development. For example, I recently looked at a college sketchbook, which has work on ‘drawing systems’ and has a set of cards I made in it. I am definitely going to use this idea with my current Saturday morning art classes.
Once my ideas are down on paper, I tend to start working out of my sketchbook. As I work with fabric, I like to do it intuitively, laying down fabrics on top of each other and moving them about. My sketchbook these days tends to be a lot of technical notes which will help me with a development of a piece.
Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
Am I allowed to say they have devolved? I am going to be honest here – much as I would like to be able to, I just do not have the time I once had to ‘play’ with my sketchbooks like I used to. The pressures of running my art as a business – of feeling like I should always have a tangible ‘thing’ to exhibit/ show can be a lot of pressure. I am working really hard on trying to integrate my sketchbook once more as a vital part of my creative process. I suppose that my work has got a lot more pared down recently, and my books reflect this.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
It is boring, but I absolutely cannot live without a cheap bic mechanical pencil. I do ALL my drawing with it.
Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
Yes. It is one that I did when I was at college, and was part of a project based on food. It ended up being about a friend of mine who had anorexia – and I wrote all these ‘recipes’ based on similar illnesses/ conditions.
If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
I have included an image of my favourite page. It was done in an old magazine, in a brief foray into using alternative forms of sketchbook. The rest of the book is awful (too contrived!), but I really like this one. It has the right balance I feel, and is a successful example of how I can use different materials to tell a story.
Thanks to Sarah for taking part in this weeks Sketchbook Peeks, if you want to find out a bit more about her you can visit her website, where you can find out all about workshops, her portfolio, exhibitions etc, and you can also follow her on Facebook and also read her blog.