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Member Spotlight - Sarah Coleman


[ April 13, 2009 ]   Rather than go for a single interviewer, Sarah Coleman aka Inkymole put a call out on her MySpace page inviting questions for this week's Altpick Spotlight. With colorful responses from far and wide, Sarah picked out this selection of questions which reveal that her friends and followers are both familiar with her work, and curious to know more.


From Solo One, London, Artist, graffiti writer, long-term source of inspiration and support to Inkymole:

Are there any subject matters that instantly resonate with you?
Good words, engaging stories. 'Sky High Hopes' (chosen for the NY SOI 51st Annual and Show this year) was set in motion by writer Ed Garland's words; he also wrote the Snowtrees story (my Christmas piece) and worked with me on my Hallowe'en 'Witches' exhibition. Emily Bronte and poet Sage Francis have both been the raw inspiration behind substantial bodies of work. I'm working with poet Andrea Gibson at the moment.

Is there anything that you've ever drawn that you've thought ' I could do something else with that', and if so what?
Contrary to what you might think, for me it's often commissioned work which inspires personal work, rather than other way round. Limitations breed ideas and freshness, strange as that may sound. I drew a tiny, detailed face of a doll in a few hours for an emergency giveaway Inkymole sticker at a music festival. The stickers never happened, but Dollface proved so popular that she became a logo, an identity, then went full colour, and became a badge, directory page and vinyl sticker, finally becoming my first screen print last year.

Did you ever get any pictures onto Tony Hart's (rest in peace) Gallery? Did you ever have a burning desire to achieve this 2-seconds-of-fame status?
(Tony Hart was a legendary British TV artist, whose charming children's programme remained fiercely popular for nearly three decades. He died in January).
I did enter once, but 'Guy The School Art Genius' also entered and got chosen instead of me. I was gutted. I sent a portrait of The Thompson Twins (80s British pop 'sensation') - I choose not to remember who Guy drew. The anticipation of waiting to see whether your work was about to appear on screen was immense!

How did you make the transition from drawing to it becoming a business?
I wanted it to be a business from the very start - it never once stood a chance of just being a hobby. I was filling in 'paperwork' and phoning pretend clients from a very early age!

Do you ever feel limited by briefs from clients and do the briefs ever inspire your own work?
Limited sometimes yes, but I welcome that - it stretches me. What really terrifies me is a wide-open brief - that massive, staring, empty page...

If money were no object where would you want to take your work?
To other planets? I'd still be a working illustrator - it's what I trained to do, and I love every aspect of the job. But if money were no object, I may choose to go back to college, to develop my work in an environment I know works for me. And I'd welcome the freedom to spend hours on one piece - without the worry if it didn't turn out 'right'.

From Marisa Eley, Stockholm, collector of Inkymole artwork, tattoo model and competition winner:

Do you have a "dream project" or "dream client" (other than those you have previously worked with)?
No dream client, but I would love to be involved in feature films. Whether that be titling, props, the design of a film ... I've never yet made a serious attempt to move in this direction, so I don't know how I'd fare. In essence, moving my work off a page and into three dimensions.

Do you plan to exhibit you work in Stockholm? (I only ask because you really should!)
No plans for that, but I've just taken a page in a big European illustration directory, so if I felt there were sufficient interested clients there, I might consider it!

From Ed Garland, writer, Bristol writer and Inkymole collaborator, copywriter, storyteller and novelist

Has the sudden disappearance of all the money in the world and endless parade of media-doom affected your workload in any way? Or are you established enough to remain stable and relatively unworried?
No it hasn't. Yes I have faith that I am.

What's the biggest work-related risk you've ever taken?
The 'Write Off The World' show and the two shows that followed it. I sunk a LOT of money into that whole endeavour, not to mention taking time out of commissioned work to create the pieces. But it worked.

Do you get to see a lot of work by new illustrators? Are there any in particular who stand out?
I look at quite a lot. I get to see a lot of student work especially, via the queries they send me and requests for help with their studies. I am afraid I don't know enough new illustrators' work to suggest anyone in particular; and no, that's not just me being competition-paranoid!

You're known for working by hand, but what technology / software do you use in your work that you couldn't imagine being without?
My QuadCore, scanner, CS3 and broadband connection. And a bank which doesn't charge me for overseas payments. I could produce my work without these, but all of them enable me to work internationally and at the pace the client needs.

Liam Peter Dale Clayton, Leicester, currently studying at Kingston Upon Thames University:

Would you say you're a perfectionist? I find a lot of people who create art (of any kind) often are to some extent.
Actually no. I have had to learn over the years that you often have to let things go out of the door not quote as 'perfect' as you want them, due to timing and client choices. But I am fastidious with neatness of files, tidy artwork, that sort of thing. Left to make things 'perfect' I would never ever hit the 'finished' button.

Interestingly, all three interviewers asked the same question, as follows:

What makes you say no to a job - are there any jobs you've turned down because of ethics or conflict of principles? How much do your personal ethics affect your design practices and project choices?
Inappropriate fees or unrealistic deadlines are the most common reasons for saying 'No'. But yes, I have worked my way out of unappealing propositions in the past. Professionalism prevents me from saying who, what or why, but each job is ALWAYS considered completely on its own merits with a criteria applied to each. There is no blanket rule. What good could I do with that company's money once they've paid me? If I turn it down, how likely is my replacement to do that SAME good with the money? Will the job raise my profile, thus earning me future money that I can use to counter those of the company's practices that I find unacceptable? And finally - do I want my work associated with the company? There is usually a compromise to be reached.

My business choices are, however, easier to dictate, and influence everything from my business bank to my paper and print suppliers, recycling practices, software choices and the materials used to build my workspace.



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