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A Magazine for Sheffield

Sara Saedi: Sharp and elegant digital illustration

Sara Saedi is a digital illustrator based in Los Angeles. Formerly a freelancer, she now works for Blik, a decal and surface graphics company in LA. We were first drawn to the precise geometry of Sara’s work, somewhat reminiscent of Jonny Wan, our featured artist back in October 2012. Working exclusively on a computer can be overwhelming – with infinite permutations spreading out in front of you – but Sara’s pieces are disciplined and focussed, balancing well-chosen colour palates with bold, sharp lines and elegant curves. What initially drew you to creating art? I feel like I didn't have much choice in the matter because nothing else interested me the way art did. At first it was little things, like noticing that I could cut paper into precise shapes better than my classmates in kindergarten. By the time I was deciding which college I wanted to apply to, I knew there was something for me in art. What is your working process and what tools do you use? I work exclusively on the computer using Adobe Illustrator. To start, I make a loose sketch of the composition and build upon that on the computer with my tablet. Some forms I freehand completely, others I would collage photographs together into one image and trace over it. It takes a lot of fiddling to get the right shape, but I don't enjoy sketching everything out to the last detail. I like to explore many options before locking myself into one idea, and it's hard for to me visualise colours and shapes just using pen and paper. It's easier to just do it on the screen right away. What inspires you? Usually I find myself scrolling through websites mindlessly, eating pictures with my eyes. When I linger on an image for more than a few seconds, I instantly save it onto my desktop. I don't consciously think about what inspires me, but I do enjoy looking at landscapes and works of art with unique colour combinations. Sharp contrast and the way elements are juxtaposed are among the features that I naturally gravitate towards as well. What motifs do you find yourself returning to? Flora and fauna, naturally, although I'm afraid that drawing a cool looking wolf and a geometric bird is becoming rote. I see the same cat, owl, deer, bear, raindrop shaped leaves everywhere. [American modernist artist] Charley Harper did animals and plants better than anyone else years and years ago, and people who do vector illustrations still try to play on his work. It's time for me to move on to other subjects, like landscapes and figures. How has your approach to art changed over the years? It took quite a while to get to this point where I just work exclusively digitally. At the beginning of art school, I made this ambitious goal of trying to become one of the best draftsman in the class. It only took a few classes to realise that there were people way more skilful and experienced. I took time off school to exclusively work on my figure drawing skills, but everyday was a struggle to draw and I became more and more unhappy with myself. I eventually abandoned drawing to move onto other methods of image making such as collage. After I took printmaking and basic computer classes, I realised how much I enjoyed the perfection of the shapes I can make using the computer. In my own work, I like the clean, simple and minimal look. It's just a lot easier to create that using the computer than a brush or pencil. What do you dislike in art? I don't dislike anything in art; I just dislike how some people take their art too seriously. Is it a challenge to make a living from freelance illustration and commission work? Before I got my full time job, yes, it was definitely a challenge to do freelance work. I don't know one person who thinks it's easy to be a freelance illustrator and that includes successful artists. I still have friends who are freelancing, and to me it looks incredibly difficult because you always have to be hustling for that next job. If you're not an established artist it's even harder because you have to be putting your name out there whenever you can and be patient when you don't get any responses. The lack of responses when I first started to self-promote was one of the hardest parts of being a freelancer and at times it became really demoralising, even though I knew my work was of quality. It was like yelling into a cave and only hearing your own voice echo back to you. That's just part of starting out and the last thing you want to do is become so discouraged that you quit altogether. I'm glad I don't have to go through that right now and I don't think I want to be a freelance artist for a while. What projects or pieces are you working on at the moment? Christmas products! Getting into the spirit already. Good advice you wish you’d been told earlier? Don't ask for advice all the time. Some things you’ve just got to experience and figure out on your own. You'll be fine. [imagebrowser id=38] )

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