Puppets, paintings and printmaking – meet artist Sarah Young

Meet the Maker: Sarah Young

Printmaker, painter, designer, maker and illustrator

Sarah Young is an extraordinarily talented artist who crosses traditional boundaries of art and craft. She is a painter, illustrator, printmaker, maker of three-dimensional sculptures and textiles and originator of a travelling puppet theatre. One of the many things we love about Sarah is that there is no elitism in her work. Her paintings sell for thousands of pounds but she also creates tea towel cloth kits, so anyone with a needle and thread can make their own version of her wonderful puppets. We caught up with Sarah to find out more…

Sarah Young, interview

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello, my name is Sarah Young, I’m based in Brighton and I illustrate, design, print, paint and make in a variety of materials, most recently getting back to clay.

Did you always know you’d be an artist?
I grew up making, drawing and illustrating my own books, but I never decided to be an artist – it was just the thing I was quite good at.

When you first started out, you had a small travelling puppet theatre. We’d love to know more…
I used to do pavement drawing but wanted to do a form of busking that I’d be more interested in, so set up a travelling puppet theatre with Jon Tutton. We loved creating every aspect of the puppet theatre and the puppet shows. The theatre involved everything I was interested in, all together.

Sarah Young, dolls, puppet theatre,

Mixed Media Textile Dolls by Sarah Young

I set up a travelling puppet theatre with Jon Tutton. We loved creating every aspect of the theatre as it involved everything I was interested in – our shows were definitely not Punch and Judy!

We made quite a few different types of puppets and performed a version of The Little Mermaid and The Incredible tale of Dr Faustus – our shows were for adults and children, and they were definitely not Punch and Judy! I think we were probably better at ideas and making than performing! But we were doing it at a time when puppetry wasn’t as popular as it is now. I’m hoping to return to something along these lines in the future.

Papageno, Sarah Young, original painting

‘Papageno’ – one of Sarah Young’s paintings

Do you still have the theatre?
We still have all the puppets and the fascia board. A friend at the time made films and I wish we’d filmed one of the shows because of course we never saw it. Maybe that was just as well!

Sarah Young, lino print, hens and chicks

Hens and Chicks Lino Print by Sarah Young

My relief prints, screen prints and collagraphs usually need quite a bit of planning because the layers have to work together, but I still like to leave a lot to chance.

You use various printmaking techniques in your work. How did you learn your printmaking skills?
I mostly taught myself relief printmaking and collagraphy and I learnt silkscreen printing from Jane Samson at Ink Spot Press in Brighton.

Bath Music festival poster, Sarah Young,

The poster Sarah Young designed for Bath Music Festival

You’re a published illustrator, could you tell us more about this side of your work? How have those commissions come about and do you have a favourite project you’ve worked on?
I don’t quite know how I get commissioned work now because I don’t advertise. People have probably seen past work and it’s cumulative. It’s good when clients trust you or are happy to give you quite a free rein – I did a poster for Bath Music Festival that I think worked well because of that. One of the jobs I was luckiest to do was a book called Greek Myths, 16 beautifully retold stories by Ann Turnbull, published by Walker Books. I’ve always loved Greek myths and Walker Books, so it was a little daunting!

Sarah Young, Arethusa Bathing, Greek Myths, Ann Turnball

An illustration of Arethusa Bathing by Sarah Young from Greek Myths by Ann Turnbull

Where do you look for inspiration in your own work and how do you start a piece?
The approach really depends on what it is and what method I’m using. If it’s a digital illustration, I usually do the roughest rough sketch first to just give an idea because it mostly evolves on the computer. Other work, would usually have a much more worked-out sketch, and other pieces are actually much better with no rough at all. My relief prints, screen prints and collagraphs usually need quite a bit more planning because the layers have to work together, but I still like to leave a lot to chance.

Sarah Young, studio, Brighton, artist studio, Atelier 51

I’m very lucky because we’ve recently set up a lovely studio in Brighton called Atelier 51, and we’re about to open a studio shop to pay the rent!

Can you describe your workspace?
I’m very lucky because we’ve recently set up a lovely studio in Brighton called Atelier 51. There are two ceramicists downstairs and two multimedia makers /artists upstairs. We run open studios and are just about to open a tiny studio shop to help pay the rent – hopefully!

Sarah Young, St Ives, lino print

St Ives Lino Print by Sarah Young

Artists have asked me why I’m making three-dimensional things when they think of me as a printmaker. That’s never made any sense to me.

What’s the best thing about being creative for a living?
I suppose the best thing is that each day can be completely different… and obviously working for oneself, although I think I’m probably unemployable, anyway! I did hope working for oneself would mean more time off, but sadly it’s the opposite.

Sarah Young, Hester the Hare, tea towel kit, hare cushion

Hester the Hare cloth kit or tea towel by Sarah Young

Thankfully I think more and more people are now becoming undefinable by a category or discipline, and that’s now much more accepted.

What does craft mean to you?
I don’t like all the names and divisions. Thankfully I think more and more people are now becoming undefinable by a category or discipline, and that’s now much more accepted. Artists have asked me why I’m making three-dimensional things when they think of me as a printmaker. That’s never made any sense to me.

Sarah Young, lion sculpture,

I work in a variety of materials, but most recently I’ve been getting back to clay.

 

Sarah Young, dolls, tea towel kits

Find Sarah Young’s alphabet prints, tea towels, wood cuts and lino prints on Folksy

Get 15% off everything in Sarah Young’s Folksy shop – use discount code Atelier before 24 November 2016

 

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