Sarah Wright is very creative. It’s basically a compulsion for her. She enjoys crafting including knitting, crocheting, sewing. Sarah uses software to create art. She enjoys watercolors, oil painting, charcoal and other mediums. She’s very adaptable and adventurous. She’s into character creation and she is currently working on a children’s book. Of course, Sarah designs t-shirts too. That’s why she’s talking to us here on the Shirt List.
And I haven’t mentioned Sarah’s obsession with food. It seems that if she wasn’t able to create delicious looking art she would spend more time eating. But hopefully, she will spend more time designing pop culture inspired t-shirts so we will see more of her work on the Shirt List. Read on to learn more about this talented artist.
Sarah Wright Interview
I see on Facebook that you are based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Born and raised?
Sure am! I was born in Indianapolis and grew up here. I went about an hour and a half north to Muncie, IN for college, but then made my way back to Indy.
What do you like most about where you live?
Low cost of living and proximity to my loved ones are the best things about Indianapolis for me. I also enjoy the local wildlife. In my neighborhood, I’ve seen foxes, rabbits, deer, and ducks. And I still live in the city limits!
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I’m not drawing, I like to go to concerts. The rest of my time is spent crafting. I knit, crochet, sew, whatever I get my hands on to play with. My current fascination is with crocheting stuffed animals.
Do you work full-time in art and design? Do you have a 9 to 5 or are you a freelancer?
I was a 9-5 designer/artist for about 4 years, but starting last year, I’m a full-time freelancer.
About the Artist
When did you start creating art?
My parents used to say I was such an easy kid to please because all I ever wanted were office supplies. So I’ve always had an affinity for making art, but I would say high school was when I became very serious about it. Many sketchbooks were filled and most evenings were spent trying out inking techniques and designing characters.
I see you have a BFA in Electronic Art & Animation. Did this help you in your t-shirt art?
The classes I took taught a lot about print-quality art and using more professional software. Also the foundation of drawing with real materials in turn informed by ideas of what could be achieved with digital art.
Apart from t-shirts, are you involved in other art/design projects?
Yes! In addition to client work, I’m currently working on a character project called Ami Oignon (Friend Onion) where I draw this onion friend in multiple situations, with the intention of selling stationery and stickers featuring the character. Also, I’m working on a Children’s Book.
Were you influenced by any particular artist or style?
Growing up in the age of the internet, there are countless artists that shape my work. For the sake of picking one, I’d say that Tara McPherson was my first art idol. She paints vibrant images in a cute but often grotesque way. Her band posters are some of my favorites.
Where do you usually get your inspiration?
Nature and food mostly. Even when they don’t translate directly into drawings, the good vibes I get from being around plants and animals or cooking a new recipe recharge my creative batteries.
I’ve noticed that you have a lot of food designs. Do you get hungry when you are designing?
I like to think that it’s better on the paper than on my gut. I have a real sweet tooth and love trying new recipes, so this is a way to channel my love of food without getting too plump.
Could you describe your typical design process from concept to completion?
I have two approaches. For the food drawings, I start with thumbnail sketches. This can take several pages and a few different sessions to nail down. Once I know what I want, I lightly draw a sketch in full size on some Bristol board. I ink that with felt tip pens and color it in grayscale using some gray markers and a soft leaded pencil. Then I scan the image and colorize it in Photoshop. This allows me to change my mind about color choices without wasting paint or expensive paper, while still giving an organic, hand-drawn feeling.
For digital, sketches are always in Photoshop. I resize or adjust them until they look right, and then using either Photoshop or Illustrator, I draw over the sketch. If I’m going for a cartoony look, I draw the outline first, then color it in. If the look is flatter, I will draw the shapes first, then add defining lines on top where needed. I use illustrator when the end purpose requires a clean and resizable image.
You also like to paint. Tell us a little about that.
In high school, I took an oil painting class at the local art center and have been hooked ever since. I’ve also picked up acrylic and watercolor painting. Painting is where I turn to refuel. It’s like taking a break, while still feeling productive. The process can be long, but it is rewarding. My paintings are often different from my shirts. Usually, they feature nude figures and are more conceptual.
About the T-Shirts
You sell your designs on TeePublic, RedBubble, and Society6.
Which performs best for you?
Recently, my TeePublic store has been really making progress, especially since I started designing more pop-culture related shirts.
Which is easiest to work with?
I enjoy the ability to customize individual products on Society6, but TeePublic has the most streamlined way to set up items. I like how you can change the background color per each type of item.
Of the t-shirts that you designed, which one is your favorite?
Currently, my favorite is “Nobody Likes a Soggy Bottom” which is a portrait of Mary Berry from the Great British Bake Off. I am a sucker for lame puns.
Do you wear the t-shirts that you have designed?
I have a pair of leggings I bought from Society6 that I wear around the house but mostly I’m too self-conscious to wear my own work.
Photoshop or Illustrator?
Lately, I’ve been working primarily in Photoshop because of the ease of adding texture with custom brushes. But when I want to make something clean, or scalable, Illustrator rules. Client work usually ends up being 50/50.
About the World
What is the most exotic location you have been to?
I haven’t been able to travel much in my life, so don’t laugh. But I took a trip to Atlanta, GA a couple of years ago in the fall and it was gorgeous. I still think of the giant tank in the Georgia Aquarium often. My boyfriend and I stood in front of the glass for probably an hour watching the whale sharks swim. Runner up would be the white sand beaches of Siesta Key in Florida.
Where would you most like to visit? Why?
The scenic landscapes of New Zealand and Japan call to me. Cities are cool and all but I get really excited seeing plants and natural landmarks I’ve never seen before.
About Other Designers
Which t-shirt designer(s) do you admire the most?
I really like Nan Lawson on Teepublic, and how she styles her illustrations. It makes her shop feel more unique than if she just copied the style of her inspiration sources.
Who would you like to see interviewed on the Shirt List next?
HeyMonster has a great line of “Our Lady Of…” shirts on Society6. I have a Leslie Knope shirt I like to wear when I need to feel confident. So maybe them?
Any advice for new designers/artists?
References are your friend. Things like shadows often don’t look the way we think they would. And use multiple sources, that way you are sure you’re learning how a, for example, sheep should look rather than what that particular photo of a sheep looks like. You don’t want to steal a photographer’s hard work. Even if your art is stylized, like anime, the human mind subconsciously picks up on fundamentals like reflections and perspective that when adapted well, will give images harmony.
What’s the last movie you saw in the cinema/movie theater?
Lego Batman! What a fun movie.