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Sarah Ellen Designs – Sunday Artist Interview

Sunday’s have never been the same again since I started these around 6 months ago! I have luckily had lots of very willing artists to interview and have a list of more as long as my arm – so here’s today with Sarah of Sarah Ellen Designs to tell us a little bit about herself and her work…

First of all, who are you?

Hello! My name is Sarah, and I am the everything behind the crazy world of glitter and colour that is Sarah Ellen Designs – I make quirky greetings cards and super sparkly resin jewellery!

I’m from Kingswinford, in the west midlands, where I live with my two cats – Mary and Max – and run my little business from my spare room…and the other spare room…and the lounge….basically my house is a creative hub and there is stuff everywhere to prove it!

My occupation? Full time rainbow and see-er of silver linings! Colour and positivity everything to me, and I live to radiate it. My business is just another outlet for this!

Sarah Ellen Designs came about as the result of me using craft and art as therapy after a bad accident that has left me with disabilities. That was over eight years ago, and I accept my disabilities and limitations now (usually!) and being self employed and working from home allows me to work with my body and have full control of what I do. Some days I can’t even get out of bed, but my brain is usually still spinning with ideas.

My business has developed over the last few years, with me trying various products within the greetings card and jewellery categories, trying, failing, learning and growing to what I have now. And I couldn’t be more pleased with or proud of my pieces now!

When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  What did you answer?

I honestly can’t remember saying anything specific, or having one dream job.
What I can remember, vividly, is being told by every member of my family never to join the police force. They were all police officers of some sort., and were amazing at their jobs. It never appealed to me anyway, but I did entertain the idea of nursing for a while.
I was never pushed in a specific direction with my education or future aspirations. My parents were utterly amazing and let me choose my own direction.

From a very young age, it was clear I was headed down an artistic path – I have fond childhood memories of spending hours in the utility room at my parents house painting picture after picture on sugar paper using those powder paints that you mixed with washing up liquid and water – simple times. Art supplies got so much more extensive and pricey when i hit GCSE and college level!

What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?

It’s not really funny in a laugh out loud kind of way, but from the very moment I started making greetings cards (2011) they were a bit different (like me!) and in the years since, whenever I have told people I make cards, I get the ‘oh thats nice’ response. There seems to be a bit of a ‘cutting and sticking with lots of ribbons and gems’ stigma attached to card making. and yeah it is there. 

My cards are not like that, they are totally different, modern, quirky, colourful and sparkly. So after the ‘oh thats nice’ response, I show someone my work and I have never failed to change their opinion and view of handmade cards. Welcome to waaaaaay outside the box!!

What is the hardest part of being creative?

For me personally, its my disabilities and general health. It very much limits what I can physically do in a day (although my brain literally never stops!) I very often sit and think how many more things I would be able to do if I was in full health, and yes it gets me down sometimes.

However, if I hadn’t have had the accident I did, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do now or have met the amazing creative friends I have – so silver linings and all that!

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Patience and persistence.  Listen to advice and suggestions but also stay true to yourself.

It’s super hard to carve out that little niche for yourself, but if that’s what you truly want to do, keep doing it!

No one sees the huge piles of fails behind the successes, and believe me there will be piles of them, but thats no reason to give up. No-one is as perfect as they seem on Instagram!

What subjects inspire you?

Colour. Positivity and motivation. Humans and what makes their eyes sparkle. My whole ethos for my business is about making little things that bring a smile to someone’s face.

Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)

This is a bit of a tricky one for me, if you asked me when I was in college I would have reeled off a list well known, or quite obscure artists who I absolutely adored.  However, these days I am inspired by the creative community around, and my insanely talented friends and acquaintances, and the wider world of totally underrated artists, designers and makers.

I love seeing little indie shops selling handmade pieces, if I like a piece or someones style, I don’t care who they are – black, white, pink or sky blue with green pimples, I just enjoy the piece of work (that’s what I hope my work brings to people).

I don’t follow or particularly research particular artists, if a piece of work speaks to me, that is my focus.

Although! There is one artist that has stuck with me – Gerard Way, his art and my love of My Chemical Romance’s music literally fuelled 4 and a half years of my life through GCSE and college. My inner emo was soooooo happy when The Umbrella Academy was made by Netflix!

Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?

My Auntie Rosemary, she died when I was about 5. I remember seeing lots of her old sketchbooks and drawings…I will never forget them. I wish I knew what happened to them.

Salvador Dali – just a bloody legend, and a bit odd. My kinda guy!

Genuinely can’t list anyone else!

What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?

Current business wise, it would be my first piece of resin and sterling silver jewellery – the piece that created the crazy rainbow sparkly monster that Sarah Ellen designs is today. I just thought ‘I need glitter’ and I have never looked back!

Over all, my favourite piece would have to be the installation I created for my final major project for my BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design.

It came toward the end of a very tough time with mental illness for me, and I poured my heart and soul into this piece. To then hear from the public at the exhibition how emotional and strong it was, was truly the icing on the cake!

What was the last piece of art you sold?

This is one thing I genuinely have no idea about!

I have a display of my work at Shop in the Square in Wolverhampton, it’s in a shopping centre and manned by different artists every day. I find out what I have sold every couple of weeks when I pop in – it’s a fantastic little shop, and slightly wonderful knowing someone has picked a piece of my work, without knowing me, simply because they like it!

And finally… Because this is really important….

What’s the best type of cheese?  (haha)

moked cheddar! No contest. 

Sarah Ellen Designs
Unique silver jewellery and greetings cards

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