Friday, 7 September 2018

An Interview With Sally Barnett

Sally Barnett's artwork first featured in the original Dark Lane magazine.  Her stunning illustrations have since graced all volumes of the anthology series.  To see more of her work visit her website

Q: What are your working methods?  Do you sit down every day to work?  Do you have a designated place to work?
A: I have a long term and short term plan, always on the go and changing all the time. But on a daily basis, I attack my emails first, every morning, sat in my kitchen with my laptop; dog on one side, bowl of cereal on the other. Then I set myself a list of things I need to produce that day from my list for that month. To escape from the housework I walk down to the garden shed; this is my studio. It isn’t so much a shed, more of a small stable block with a carpet. but no horses. But it is where I do all my drawing, printing, painting, priming, sanding, etc. But if it is too cold outside, I sit in the living room with my art-pad and my dog sat on my feet.

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite artworks and why you like it (not one of your own).
A: The hairs on the back of my neck bristled and time stopped right there, the first time I saw ‘Some Roses and their Phantoms’, an oil painting by Dorothea Tanning. It disturbed me and that was why I really liked it. I felt it was telling me, ‘I know you’. It was like someone painting a feeling from my childhood that only I knew about. It reminded me of the curtains that used to be in my bedroom when I was little. The curtain pattern was of deep red and black flowers or swirls I think, but very abstract. At night, the curtains became alive; deep caverns where lots of figures moved about; people’s faces looking out, so quietly. And the cupboard in the corner of my bedroom?... don’t get me started on that. lol

Q: Tell us about one of your favourite artwork (done by you).
A: I drew a picture of a landscape after my sister died, to process my emotions at that sad time and even though I feel I have drawn more accomplished work, it is this picture that I am most connected to and fond of. The image is of mountains, hills, trees and flowers but there are lots of things (animals) hidden and symbolism within the image. One of those images that you can look at and see something different each time you view it.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?  Do you go looking for ideas – for example by brainstorming, or do you wait for inspiration?
A: I draw from emotions within a story or circumstance and find the visual inside it. I find this an easy part of the process. There is also a lot of research involved because I like my work to be as informed as possible.
 If I have a commission and there is a strict brief, I make sure I achieve everything within the brief but also add an element of me within it, in order to create something both my client and I are proud of.

Q: Are you a full-time artist? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time artist if you could?
A: I work freelance part-time as an Illustrator and Designer, whilst also managing a long term health condition. I have learnt how to focus my capabilities on design work that I enjoy, which has in turn allowed me to create a more meaningful and bespoke business for my clients and myself.
I am self taught in web design and have a few ongoing clients, which helps financially. I miss my old job as a highway engineer, but I cannot return to the engineering industry right now because of my health.

Q: What is the most difficult part of your creative process?
A: I enjoy my work. It does not feel like work because I have loved illustration and design since I was little. It only becomes work and so difficult to endure, if I take on work that does not fuel my passion.  I use mind-maps and other similar design theories to help me come up with draft ideas. I know how to get myself out of ‘creative block’. I know when to put the pen down. I nurture my passion by attending art exhibitions or illustration and design events. I keep scrapbooks and sketch every day. Being creative is not difficult.

Q: If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self about becoming an artist?
A: Never give up; never think you cannot do something; always believe in yourself and others will follow; listen to others and learn from them. Be inspired!

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