Sarah Smith multi talented artist, freelance illustrator who has turned her hand to professionally painting people…. Literally. She creates commercial and individual art. From book and card illustrations, stylised and classic portraits to personalised character or botanical pieces. She is the creative soul responsible for our much talked about Those London Chicks ‘mini’ figures. Here, is an ideal opportunity to find out more about the talent behind them. We are delighted to catch up and discuss Sarah’s amazing work.
Sarah, creativity is clearly running through your veins, was that always the case, or did you have aspirations to perhaps become a vet or anything other than an artist?
I always wanted to be an artist of some description ☺ One of my earliest creative memories is sitting on my parents sofa drawing Micky Mouse wearing Michael Jackson’s ‘BAD’ outfit! I loved drawing Disney characters and dressing them up in outfits worn by the late king of pop! I was one of those children that would doodle on school books among other things (such as my bedroom walls)!I still draw on walls, but get to call them murals these days.
Who inspired you to pursue your creative side?
My parents inspired me, they have always supported me and shown pride in my work. In terms of artists, I was a fan of Salvador Dali when growing up, his images were curious, These days I find it very difficult to name any single individual as I’m inspired by so many.
Those London Chicks is all about the collective, the sharing of stories, life experiences, offering inspirations and celebrating talent. You were highly recommended by another of our contributors Lisa Vice MUA, from studying (graphic design )together, tell us about your journey from then to now?
When I finished secondary school, all I knew was that I wanted to draw, I needed to create. My Art teacher at the time suggested I study Graphic Design.. so I embarked on BTEC National Diploma at Leicester College, which was where I met Lisa, along with many other lifelong friends.
It was also where I discovered illustration as a direction. From there I went on to Study Scientific Illustration, in Blackpool at degree level. That was a fantastic three years, so many fun memories!
Three years later I returned to Leicester with a 2:1 and started freelancing. Soon I began to dream of working in a studio somewhere.. this led me to become zoo artist for Twycross Zoo, in 2000! From there I moved to a greeting card design company; Watermark publishing, where I was employed as an illustrator. As much as I enjoyed working in these places, I missed the freedom of freelance. Not long after returning to self employment, my first child came along, my son, Darryl, now 9. Then around three years later my daughter, Morgan arrived. I started face-painting because of Morgan. She always loved having it done, so, I bought a Snazaroo starter set and had a go. Not long after that I began painting at children’s parties back in 2012.
After a while I found the confidence to post images on social media and discovered an array of face painting groups! After joining a few started to experiment, that’s when I began painting my own face, as various animals, in a semi-realistic style. This proved surprisingly popular, gaining me many friends and followers. I was even noticed by a fantastic guy, Richard Nijboer, who organized my first teaching workshop, in his own shop, in Vlissingen, Holland. That was an incredible experience: having other painters want to learn from me was life changing! Around the same time I started to notice body paint imagery and was mesmerized by much of it. I painted my first full body paint in Feb 2014, as part of the UK Bodypaint League. My model was amazing, so supportive. I was immediately hooked!
We absolutely love the illustrations you created for us. Our Logo wouldn’t be what it is without your skills. For the curious amongst us, can you talk us through the process of creating the fabulous the mini figures?
I always like to look online for inspiration, rather than just going with a single reference source. This was no different. I looked at modelling images, fashion drawings, and in a few magazines, then picked up the pencil and sketched! The hardest part of the mini’s was getting the faces to look right while keeping with the image style. I love doing drawings where the line weight is varied so really enjoyed creating these for you.
Incredibly, for only the last 10 months you’ve added to the canvas’ you work on and now you professionally do face and body art! We are stunned at the level of detail, Where do you find your inspirations and how do you then transfer them into practice…. Or should we say body?
I find inspiration everywhere! Literally. From a random cloud shape in the sky, to a film. It’s a strange sensation, like something popping in my head, suddenly an image will appear in my minds eye and I have to do it. I become almost obsessive about it until I’ve painted it.. the funny thing is, I can guarantee that when I’m halfway through the vision will change and my design becomes something else. It’s one of the reasons I rarely do detailed sketches, a scribble is enough because the design will undoubtedly be changed by something else I see along the way. I love body art so much. To think this time last year I had no plans to paint as I do now, yet here I am, a joint leader of the East Midlands Chapter of the UK Bodypaint League, unable to get enough! There’s something beautiful about painting on a living canvass, it adds a whole new dimension to the paint.. my artwork really does come to life on every wonderful model I have the privilege to paint, and I’ve made some treasured friends thanks to this. The bond that is often created with the model being painted is inspiration in itself. (Drinking tea and eating cake with a wonderful person who is wearing your art is definitely an experience I’d recommend ) Lol.
A lot of your work has a dark side but there is always an element of fun. What or who would be your dream canvas and what would you do with it/them?
My dream canvas… wow, I’d love to paint a few well known individuals in a large camouflage paint, in a public place. I think that would be fun. Hidden celebrities! In truth, I feel like every model I paint is a dream canvas, because I never envisaged painting any of them.
You have come so far in so little time, what is your ultimate goal with regards to your passion, body art?
I’d love to have my art, and the people I create it with, be recognized, and hope to travel the world, painting in as many beautiful places as possible.