Sarah Perkins

How would you describe you describe your work to someone who has never seen it before?Layers…..all made possible with my trusty mac. A combination of my painting, textures, sourced imagery, mark making and sometimes typography all brought together by the power of photoshop.

How did you start off in the arts? How/when did you realise that you were an artist?

A childhood of making things and drawing things. I must have exhausted my mum and school as i was always ready for the next project, my last not always being finished to a particularly high standard, impatient and hungry for the next Blue Peter make. Fuelled by this creative drive, movies and a love of Dustin Hoffman i decided, at the ripe old age of 11, by hook or by crook, i was going to Art School in London. Before i reached the hallowed grounds of Chelsea and St Martins however i first had to do a local Foundation year at Maidstone School of Art, and it was here, under the inspirational teaching of George Snow, that i realised what i really wanted to be was an illustrator (not Dustin Hoffman’s personal make up artist). I learnt to finish projects and really enjoy the process of what i was doing. By the time i’d started my post grad i was already lucky enough to have achieved some recognition in the form of awards, commissions and an agent so i think then was my eureka artist moment.

Please describe a typical day of art making for you?

I’m a lark, not an owl, so all my best ideas come early.The downside of this is that the minute i wake up, no matter how early, i usually have to get up and get all those ideas down on paper. I love the excitement that comes with starting a fresh project, researching new subjects, places, people. The beginning of the process is fun and usually where ideas begin to germinate, research can take you places you weren’t expecting to go, it’s quite organic. The second stage is not so easy, it’s rather like trying to complete a jigsaw of different elements that somehow have to come together and fulfil the brief at the same time.There is always a little bit of angst once i’m starring at that prepared empty canvas.

Once the elements start coming together i will save a few layered canvases at various stages so i can take them in different directions and that way offer the art director some choices.

What contemporary artists or developments in illustration do you find interesting right now?

Coming from Chelsea Art School has put me more in the fine art camp as far as inspiration goes, i love the ideas side of what is happening in contemporary illustration but i hanker after texture, mark making and brush strokes. Fine Art wise at the moment i am loving the abstract paintings of Christian Hetzel and cold wax work of Rebecca Crowell. I am also inspired by nature and textiles so i love the eco printing of India Flint and Lotta Hellenberg. Rosalind Wyatt brings together, text, textile and mark making beautifully.

How long does it take you to finish a piece?

However long i’ve been given but in an ideal, comfortable world 3 days. 1 to research, 2 to put it together and a third to finish it off. My roughs are very near to the finished piece as i need to to get to that stage to see if my ideas/decisions will work.Once i’ve had the heads up from the art director the whole process is very quick.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Exploring and experiencing the great city that i am lucky enough to live in. I have never tired of the bright lights of London and can’t imagine i ever will, it has too much to offer. I’m a stone’s throw from the river and the Tate so have it all on my doorstep. If i had to choose a favourite aside from galleries, food and theatre it would be dancing the night away at Ronnie Scotts……with a cocktail or three.

Any advice for aspiring young illustrators?

Join the AOI! I have been a member for 30 years. We are very much alone and it is a tough business to be in so it’s comforting to belong to something bigger. They keep you up to date with what’s going on and give advice on portfolios, fees, contracts, your rights etc. Keep entering competitions; continue to do new projects and work; sort out a website and other social media such as instagram; think about an agent and continue to be inspired.