“Sarah shares her journey as an artist, the process she goes through when creating her drawings, and some of the reasons she absolutely adores her circle of friends.”
Leigh Lim: Hi Sarah! Thanks for taking the time to do a Q&A. I noticed you also have a Tumblr page. Was there a specific reason you wanted to keep linking to it?
Sarah Goodreau: Hi! No problem at all, I’m very happy to do it!
I actually began blogging on Tumblr way back in 2008. So it’s quite ancient. When I moved everything over to my current website it felt a little sad to just abandon the old gal. So I’ve kept posting on and linking to her.
LL: The site transfer process (from Tumblr), was it as easy as just doing a few clicks?
SG: This was pretty easy because I did it the way you probably aren’t supposed to do it. I just started completely fresh with my website. So anything that is on my Tumblr that existed before my website is not featured.
LL: Can you give a quick summary in terms of how you got to where you are with drawing?
SG: My art has gotten to where it is very smoothly, actually. I try to draw everyday and as time passes it evolves more and more. As a kid I was always the quote/unquote artistic child. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I would get in trouble in school for drawing in my books.
When it came time for college I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design and studied Illustration. There I learned all of the classic techniques and eventually settled on Ink as my method of choice.
Once I felt comfortable in both my style and technique I moved over to digital, while still creating as if I was holding a paintbrush. That is where I am now. In a few years? Who knows!
LL: When creating a drawing, which part takes the longest?
SG: I think I would have to say that the actual drawing part takes the longest. There isn’t anything that really takes too long, the sketch guides the final drawing and I always figure out the color palette before hand so things don’t get messy.
LL: During your early days of learning, did you have a particular book that you found yourself referring to frequently?
SG: My first few years of training were all in classic art forms. Life drawing, still life’s, oil paintings, etc. So all my books were basically text books which was pretty boring. When I finally started taking illustration classes, I spent a lot of time in the children’s book section of the library. I’m not certain if i ever had one book that I referred to the most, though I do recall having a pretty serious Winsor McCay period.
As time went on I relied less and less on other peoples books and more and more on my own style and imagination.
LL: If you were to put together a ‘learning plan’ or practice pack for someone who has never drawn before, so they could have the capacity to draw at your level and skill. What would it look like?
SG: My journey has been a life long one, this is what I studied in school.
But I would have to say just draw every day. Try new techniques when you can, and if you find yourself gravitating towards a certain style you should explore that and train it. Like most things in life, that harder you work at it the better you will become.
Never Stop learning.
LL: Would you say it was discipline that got you to where you are as an artist?
SG: I think that I am in a very lucky position where what I do for a living is a true passion of mine. I never really have to fight with myself to want to do work.
LL: Where there times when you didn’t want to draw?
SG: There haven’t really been times when I didn’t want to draw. There have been unfortunate periods where I have a pretty severe creative block (kind of like a writers block). I tend to get one every few years.
It’s very stressful because I want to be creating, it just isn’t coming out. I just remain calm, remind myself that this has happened before and will happen again and wait until the spark comes back.
LL: How would you describe your generic set-up?
SG: I always carry a small notebook and a pencil. For work I use a little laptop and a Wacom Bamboo tablet. People are always surprised when they see my work computer. It’s actually quite small! My sketchbooks are tiny too. I guess I just like to work in small spaces.
LL: How tiny is tiny?
SG: I have the 13 inch Macbook Pro, which was the smallest one I could get at the time. Do they make them smaller now?? I’ve never had a software issue, probably because I only use one or two programs on it. I like to keep things simple.
LL: Did it take awhile for you to settle on the kind of set-up that you like?
SG: This kind of evolved naturally. When I used to favor ink and water colors, my desk was a mess of ink bottles and water cups, scraps of paper, knives, tape and paintbrushes. Now it is quite minimal: laptop, Wacom tablet, sketchbook.
LL: Description of your drawing style?
SG: My style is a little whimsical and a little dark. I like to try to add a little humor in there too. I keep things fairly simple and I think my color pallets reflect that as well. I aim for simple with just the right amount of detail.
LL: Did it take awhile for you to decide on the kind of header image you use for your site?
SG: I usually change these yearly! I like to keep my header close to what my current style is. While my style stays similar, I can see a definitive shift year to year. Just my illustrations growing I think. This current one was from earlier this year, I was going through a Sasquatch phase! This one is a Sasquatch doing calisthenics.
Though it’s nearly the end of this year, so it will be changing soon!
LL: Do you have a regular schedule of posting entries?
SG: I used to try to post everyday. Which was quite the undertaking. Then I noticed that I only liked about half of my illustrations when I was doing that, so I slowed down to 3 times a week. Quality vs. Quantity. Though, the schedule is never set in stone. Depending on what’s going on work wise, I will do more or less.
LL: What do you find is the best way to connect with your audience?
SG: This is something that I am trying to get better at. Right now I answer emails and try to respond to questions on my blog.
LL: Do you have some questions that you find yourself answering multiple times?
SG: A lot of time people ask how I make an illustration or what programs I use. That is definitely the most asked question by far. Then a lot of the ‘what inspires you’ and ‘how do you think of what to draw next’.
I don’t mind answering them at all! Though I think I have crafted very streamlined answers over the years.
LL: Can you share a bit of how some of your drawings came about?
SG: All the illustrations featured come from my little sketchbook (I don’t usually post illustrations that I get paid to do on my blog). The first thing I do in the morning is sketch in it. Drawings just come to me, I don’t like to think about them too much. So, I doodle a little drawing in the morning, do the final illustration in the afternoon, and then post it on my blog.
LL: Do you keep prints of your drawings?
SG: I don’t really. Sometimes when I work on a book I will get a copy of that which is really, really, fun. But yea, I think the only time I have a copy of my work is when I’m going to gift it to someone.
LL: What would you like to learn about next?
SG: Right now I am learning how to Illustrate in a way that it can be translated into an animation. My boyfriend is a motion graphic artist and we work together a lot. We used to make a lot of stop motion animations using puppets I would make, but now we are moving onto 2D/3D animation. It’s really fun!!
My approach for learning really is to just never stop. Right now I am at a stage where I am pretty happy with my style, but I want to keep practicing and making it better and better.
LL: Are there certain things you ‘geek out’ about?
SG: This is a little weird but I love, love, love, concepting. I have such a great time coming up with ideas and figuring out how to bring them into fruition. Deciding if they should be a story or a drawing; an animation or an advert…
We like to host nights where we gather a bunch of friends at our apartment and we all talk about ideas that we have come up with and everyone helps to get them to where they need to be. Lots of fun.
LL: Are you a big listener of music?
SG: I do listen to music! I have old soul music tastes though… I love the Talking Heads, Them, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Moondog, Elvis, Lee Moses. I have a stack of records with music from the 1920’s and 30’s that I love. But! A current artist that I am in love with is Future Islands.
I’m kind of the same with books. I’m making my way through the classics. I finished War & Peace last year and am now making my way through a few Hemingway’s and 100 Years of Solitude for the second time.
LL: What is it about ‘100 Years of Solitude’ that made you want to read it the second time?
SG: There is just something about the way that Gabriel García Márquez writes that is so inspiring to me, so I like to read and reread his work every so often. He really makes his characters with so much depth and there is always just a hint of magic in his worlds.
It’s kind of how I want my illustrations to be. Real and magical. It’s been a few years since I first read this particular book, so I just wanted to catch up with it again.
LL: Do you go out of your way to discover new things?
SG: This modern world we live in, it’s impossible not to find new things daily. That internet is full of them. Plus just walking around the city, by the end of the day you will have a list of things you have written down to look in to.
LL: Where do you go for inspiration?
SG: I often take a walk to get inspired. It’s nice to just walk and think. Also, having a conversation with a friend usually sparks something. I am lucky to have some very funny, weird, creative friends.
LL: What’s your view about social media?
SG: I’m always reluctant about it. I’m not sure why but it makes me nervous. I once went 2 years without a telephone and I loved that.
I do realize that it is necessary though. It’s the best way to connect with others and show the world your art.
I do like Instagram. Most likely because it is easy to use.
LL: Which two years did you go without a phone?
SG: I got rid of my cellphone when I moved to the Netherlands. I planned on getting a new one once I had settled in but kept putting it off because I enjoyed not having a phone so much.
Eventually my boyfriend just gave me his old one! I think he thought it was getting a little ridiculous. I still don’t really use it, I actually couldn’t tell you where it is right now.
LL: What are your favourite sites at the moment?
I am starting to like Pinterest. I’m enjoying that you can manipulate it to only show you things you like, plus it can become a kind of one-stop shop for inspiring images. Then you only have to go to one website.
LL: Do you currently post at any Forums?
SG: I don’t no. I always feel nervous about things like that.
LL: What would you do when you need cheering up?
SG: I play with my dog! And sometimes have a glass of wine…
LL: Would you be open to collaborating with other artists?
SG: Definitely. I have collaborated with a few friends before and it is always a lot of fun.
LL: Are you interested in technology?
SG: I feel like I should be, but a lot of that goes over my head. Hah, I’m really showing how Tech-UN-Savvy I am.
LL: If you were asked to pick from the drawings you have, which one(s) would be your favourite(s)?
SG: Oh, that’s a hard one. It is often a recent one, as time goes on I tend to dislike my older drawings. Right now I like Little Freaks, Sunbathing At The End Of The Word, and Strong Man Vs. Wizard.
LL: What feeds your soul?
LL: For someone watching a looking at your creations for the first time, what is the message you’re hoping they’ll take with them?
SG: Mostly I just want them to think, “Oh thats cute, and funny…..and weird”. I want them to feel like there is a story behind the illustration, and for them to wonder what that could be.
Mini Bio: Sarah Goodreau is an illustrator currently based in London. You can also find her entries and illustrations here. See things with her eyes by checking her Instagram feed here (and more Potemkin!). Sarah also welcomes music and book suggestions.
Source Material and Notes: The material posted is based on correspondence (September-October 2014) between Sarah and Leigh. Content has been edited for length, and the final version has been reviewed and approved by the interviewee.
Leigh Lim is a musician based at Sydney. You can find a sample of her music here. To reach out to Leigh, you can do so via this form or a direct message through YouTube. (Curious to find out if she’s your kind of person? You can check out her tweets and personal entries.)
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