If Sarah Julia Clark just drew pretty pictures, we'd still like her a lot, as she is quite the talented illustrator! However, take a closer look at her art and you'll find that it champions a message of equality, which makes us downright love her work. I mean, I don't think anything could be more up our alley than a feminist book with a felt cover and stickers (not even the stuff we make!), so it's only natural that we're fans.
Sarah answered a few questions for us about researching for her work, feminism, and her upcoming exhibition, which you should put on your calendar if you're in London! Check out her website and blog for more.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your art? Are there any artists, illustrators, or films in particular that have influenced your work?
At the moment I’m finding lots of inspiration in Trade Union Banners and the history of protest, in particular regarding women’s rights. Most of my projects begin by researching background material with the visuals normally developing through reading. I wouldn’t say there is anyone who has directly influenced my work but I have a lot of admiration for other designers. My internship at Agency Rush this summer exposed me to the wonderful Jess Wilson and Kate Jenkins.
Most of my projects are research based. I begin with lots of reading and visual research if relevant. This is followed by many late nights of painting and drawing, then busy days of screen printing and making. I spend half my life with a bad back! I’m known for being the most productive between 10pm and 4am, which is something I really need to change.
One of our favourite projects of yours is your Ladies First zine. How did you come up with the idea? Was feminism always a theme in your artwork?
I had been thinking a lot about “gentlemanly” behaviours and the ridiculous gender etiquette that people still play up to even today. I find it really interesting how we accept so many things in this culture as the norm without questioning or challenging them. Traditions such as opening the door for a “lady “are of course acts of kindness, but also reinforce gender stereotypes, viewing women as passive. This idea is more evident in examples such as changing the wheel of a car, DIY or paying the bill at dinner which are traditionally roles of men. I refuse to accept this.
“‘Woman’ is not a derogative word. I am always a woman, but there are time when I choose to sit without holding my knees together.” ~Sylvia Dickey Smith
Feminism has always played an important part in my life and after attending several discussion and consciousness raising groups I feel compelled to try promoting positive feminist messages through my work. The word feminism comes with a lot of baggage and I’m constantly trying to represent it in a fresh way, for what it really is - empowering, positive and forward thinking.
You have a variety of items available in your shop such as brooches, tote bags, and coasters. If you could print your work on any surface or product, what would you choose?
I’m still exploring screen-printing, recently printing on kitchen tiles, which was great fun. I tend to print on quite a small scale so I’d love to work on something larger. It would be great to transform one of my designs into a rug or a duvet cover or print my own fabric and create garments. I have a textile background and used to make a lot of my own clothes, I’d love to get back into that.
What projects do you have planned? Do you have any dream collaborations or projects (however unlikely!) that you would like to accomplish in the long-term?
I’d love to work on some large-scale campaigns for women’s rights and try to contribute creatively to moving the feminist movement forward. I’m slowly expanding my range of products and it is probably unrealistic, but I’d love to run my own shop selling my work and using the back as my studio. Although it’s fantastic to have other shops selling my things, there is nothing like doing it yourself. I love doing art and zine fairs and it’s great talking to my lovely customers.
At the moment I'm working on some illustrations featuring a variety of truly inspirational women, ecofeminists, abolitionists, professors, activists and authors. These will form part of an exhibition called ‘UP To Now’, featuring the work of Brighton Illustration and graphic design students as we enter our third and final year. The exhibition runs from 30th Sept- 2nd Oct at RED Gallery, Shoreditch, London. Check out our website and blog to see some of the work progressing.