London based Illustrator Sarah McMenemy has been with The Artworks for over 30 years! Joining the agency as one of our first ‘Startworks’ artists during her time at Brighton School of Art, Sarah is best known for her delicate use of ink and collage.
Sarah’s favourite project since joining The Artworks has been the series of mural illustration’s she created for Shadwell underground Station in London. Working with Transport for London, Sarah created a series of gorgeous Illustrations that reflect the surrounding area and explore the rich history of Shadwell.
We had a chance to chat to Sarah and find out more about her life as an artist…
Where do you live? Where is your studio located?
I have always lived in London and I am currently based in Muswell Hill, in the North of the city. I am also working from home at the moment.
Can you describe your creative process?
I start off with a pencil and layout pad, creating a line rough so that the client can see the layout and content. When that is agreed I will sometimes work on a colour pencil rough to indicate a simple colour palette or I will go straight to artwork.
I create the images on paper, combining fine ink lines with loose brush strokes of gouache and sometimes use abstract shapes of collage. The enjoyment of the physical process is important to me and I like the unpredictable nature of the art as it evolves.
I scan the artwork and do a bit of fine tuning in Photoshop.
What does a typical working day look like?
I start the day with a quick run or walk and get to my desk, doing any admin that needs attending to and then working through to lunch. I usually start artwork after lunch and get properly immersed in the picture sometime around tea time! I will often work up to around 7.00pm.
Do you listen to music?
I listen to the radio all day long! It energises me. Basically all the BBC radio stations, I have very varied musical taste and I also like a bit of radio 4.
How long have you been with the Artworks for?
I started with the Artworks in their ‘Startworks’ group when I was still in at art college in Brighton, so a few years ago! They gave a talk while I was studying there and approached me to talk about representation.
What books or programmes did you love as a child?
I loved Edward Ardizzone’s illustrations for Stig of the Dump and Jean and Gareth Adamson’s Topsy and Time, Richard Scarry, Beatrix Potter, Shirley Hughes and Miroslav Sasek are a few that come to mind. I loved all the Oliver Postgate children’s programmes; Bagpuss, The Clangers and Noggin the Nog.
Mr Benn was fascinating. Trumpton, Camberwick Green and, of course, The Magic Roundabout.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?
I would be a musician.
What was the most important lesson you learned at art school?
That drawing is everything.
What inspires you the most?
Nature, the sea, big skies, rolling fields, as well as beautiful architecture and the energy of cities. Incidental colour combinations in everyday life.
Name three artists you admire.
John Piper, Saul Steinberg, Saul Bass.
What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy collaborating with clients and other creative professionals. It’s exciting to see your work in print, animated, on packaging, in libraries, on station platforms. I like short editorial jobs and longer book or film projects.
Working live at conferences is exciting too.
What would your dream commission be?
A set of stamps depicting seascapes or London architectural icons.
I don’t have any pets!
What 5 things could you not live without?
Humous, trees, cake, radio, great mattress.
What is your favourite meal?
Fish pie and peas.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Singing in a choir, walking, running, getting into wilderness, exhibitions.
What is your current dream travel destination?
Seville, Copenhagen, Northumberland, Barbados.
See more of Sarah’s work here.