I'm so pumped to have Sara M. Lyons be my first interviewee in the new blog section, Chick Chat, where I'll ask seven questions to some bad-ass ladies to learn more about what drives them, their creative process and other know-hows of the creative industry.
Sara is an artist, illustrator and nail decal designer based on Anaheim, CA. She's a self-described professional weirdo, and as I found out by chatting with her a bit: a big sweetheart. Her stuff is sold on her online store, Urban Outfitters and fun pop-up shops all over the West Coast. Her illustration style is instantly recognizable, current and just plain awesome.
Your work is full of new ideas with an old-school twist. Can you tell me what was your first encounter with art?
My mom is an artist so my sister and I grew up learning about and making all kinds of art from when we were really little; I can't remember a time when it wasn't a part of my life. We definitely had more art supplies than toys and they got a lot of use.
Do you have any rituals to get in a creative mood; if so what are they?
Since a huge part of my job is illustration, I usually have to spend several hours a day drawing whether I want to or not - so if I'm not in a creative mood I have to push through it! So I don't often get a chance to spend time getting in the zone. When I do have the time to work on my own stuff I like to get inspired by reading comics, watching my favorite movies and shows (everything from cult films and kids' cartoons to trashy reality television), and scrolling through my Tumblr dash for aesthetic candy.
Do you think it's possible to "train your eye"? How do you train yours?
I don't know about training your eye, but I definitely think everyone has their own creative strengths, and that you can learn to play to them. For me that learning process is really mainly about just constantly working. If you're always in practice then you're always improving.
It's not easy staying creative 24/7. How do you deal with creative block?
I very rarely stay focused on one thing for more than half an hour at a time. I usually have several different projects open at any given time, plus my wholesale orders and online retail store, so most days I set a timer and work in 25 minute bursts. I work on one project until the timer goes off, take a five minute break, and then jump to the next one and just pretty much repeat all day. It's probably not the right method for everyone, and when I'm under a deadline I sometimes have to just charge through one project for 10 hours straight, but for the most part it helps me avoid burnout. Usually if I'm having a problem with something in an illustration, the easiest way to fix it is to just step away from it for a while.
I find my creativity flows better when I'm solo. Do you prefer to work alone or as part of team?
Creatively I'm the same way; I much prefer to work by myself when I'm drawing or designing. But at the same time, there are a lot of facets to my work, and some things are easier with help! I've had an intern for the past few months and it's been really helpful as far as getting the day-to-day part of my business done, stuff like filling orders, packaging stuff, taking instagram pics and running errands. I'm actually losing her because she's moving and I'll really miss having her! But I only had her for a few hours a week and don't think I will hire anyone to replace her for a while. I like a lot of personal space when I'm working and ultimately I'm kind of a perfectionist so I tend to do best by myself.
We all wish we could change a few things, if you could time-travel to five years ago, what advice would you give your younger self?
I'd be like OMG, HANG IN THERE. My mid-twenties were rough! If you had told me then that I'd be where I am now I wouldn't have believed you for a second.
I know this is a hard one, but in your own words: what is art?
I think art is what you make of it. It's so subjective. For me, art ought to have a story, a message, a reason behind it. I don't need to agree with it or like it - I just want to feel that it's there.
Thank you Sara for granting me this interview!
Who would you like me to interview next? Let me know in the comments!