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Catching Up With Illustrator & Blogger Sara Barnes

Wednesday, November 3, 2010 · 3 Comments

Sara Barnes is a talented illustrator and recent MICA graduate living, creating and blogging in Baltimore. If you enjoy discovering under-the-radar artists her blog, Brown Paper Bag, is a must-read! Sara attended the Vermont Studio Center this summer and has recently incorporated embroidery in her work. (On a side note, Sara did these illustrations for Art Hound.)

How would you describe your work and approach to art-making?

My work is based on associations that I have with life, the study of human behavior, and the themes prevalent in our day-to-day existence. I love reading about sociological and psychological issues, which has lead me to conclusions about how we as a society and race react to situations and deal with challenges, both personally and within our society. Using these considerations as a springboard, I create patterns, characters, etc., that I feel reference what my associations are.

My approach to art attempts to be very organized and systematic, but is often indecisive. I try my best to make a plan before embarking on a piece (tons of thumbnail sketches!), but I take advantage of the fact that I can easily cut out new shapes of paper, resew something, or even move things around once glued down. I try to be very open to scraping part of a piece if it just isn’t working out, and basically trusting my instincts.

What are you working on these days?

I tend to divide my work between personal art making and what’s going on with Brown Paper Bag. Personally, I am applying to graduate school for the fall 2011 semester, so I’ve been working on my portfolio to submit with applications. I’m also working on pieces with the artist collective I’m apart of – We Are Fucking Awesome (WAFA for short). With WAFA, we’re working out the kinks for a new zine, and in the meantime I’m working on mail art that the group sends to each other.

With Brown Paper Bag, I’ve got a few things coming up. The collaborative interview I do, Art Together, has a couple of pieces cooking, while I’ve planned out a studio visit and gallery visit in early November. I try to take advantage of the blossoming art scene in the Baltimore/DC area.

What was the inspiration behind your awesome art blog, Brown Paper Bag?

Before Brown Paper Bag, I was keeping up with Marshmellow Kisses, a personal blog. I had a couple of days a week where I featured artists that I liked, and, after a few months, it was my favorite part about the blog. I also was reading a variety of blogs, (mostly art blogs, like Booooooom!, Pikaland, My Love For You, etc.) and really admired how they added to the conversation in the art world.

I’ve always liked writing and grew up a child of the internet, so it was definitely in my capacity to design a blog and keep it up. I started Brown Paper Bag with the intent to become a resource for people (one reason I try and tweet often) who enjoy looking at art, as well as have features that help to facilitate the global art community.

What’s your greatest hope for the blog? Where do you want to see it go?

My greatest hope for Brown Paper Bag is that it continues to inspire others and continues to grow in its readership. Right now I’m still figuring out BPB’s role in the blogosphere, and once I get some steadier footing, I’d like to expand it to other contributors and larger-scale projects.

Some of your new work includes embroidery with unusually thick yarn which creates a really cool texture. Is this a new medium for you?

For the most part, yes. I was randomly given cotton thread by an old friend about 5 years ago, and it literally sat in a drawer for all that time. It wasn’t until I was making stuff for an Etsy store that I found it and thought to experiment with it by sewing on paper. From there, it really clicked for me. I am not a strong drawer, and for most of my schooling sought ways to compensate for that. Using thread is a way that I can express things through lines without having to adhere to the same rules and standards that a line made by pencil or pen do.

What do you want to be doing in 5 years time?

Five years!  That seems like an eternity at this point. I hopefully will have received my MFA and would love to be teaching at a college level.  I would also like to still be running Brown Paper Bag in some capacity. Above all, just making art and continuing to have others view it. And, unrelated to anything I already talked about, qualify for the Boston Marathon (running is my zen).

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