Here's the latest installment of "Meet....". In this episode I have the pleasure of introducing Sarah Landwehr of Two Sarahs Etsy shop fame.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm Sarah Landwehr of Two Sarahs. I live in Portland, Oregon and the other Sarah lives in Melbourne. She's coming to visit for three weeks in June (Oh god! Get her here already!) so maybe the name Two Sarahs will be more apt come summer. In the meantime, it's mostly me, and I'm a printmaker and collage artist. I studied art at university. SInce then it's been tricky finding meaninfgul and fun work that also leaves me with some time to make art and travel, but it's a fun struggle and mostly I manage it. Currently I work as an aide in a middle school classroom with kids who all have social/emotional/behavioral problems. This is pretty difficult most days, but of course also fascinating and the birthplace of most of my best stories. AND I get to introduce a "creature of the day." Yesterday I taught them about the Tasmanian Tiger and the mystery of its extinction. The days before that we discussed the world's largest rodent--the capybara, and the coelacanth--a "living fossil" of a fish that was rediscovered after dropping off the scene for a hundred million years or so.
I like to imagine myself as well-rounded and in a conversational pinch might claim hiking as a hobby. But the the truth is that between the middle school and making art, I just have a little time left and I like to spend it eating good food while talking to the people I love.
I never made a conscious decision to become an artist. I just kept after
it because I liked it, was pretty good at it, and discovered what a
wonderful way it was to get attention without much risk: you can keep
all your failures private, and then when you think you have something
worthy to reveal, you pick your moment. I grew up pretty shy so this
hit the spot. Plus, when I'm able to describe beauty in this
way--through a physical act--it really is an altered state, with all
the pure vitality of any high. I think most humans need that. That's
not to say I come by that feeling totally at will, but it does occur
and when it does, well, joy is joy. Luckily I also enjoy the labor and
the craft and the little keeping up parts of it all too: tearing paper
for an edition, labeling stuff for the post office, sanding wood
blocks...I like almost all of it.
Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
I don't look at other artists as much as I used to. When I was a student everyone was "discovering" new artists left and right, hiding out in the stacks at the library and swooning. I miss that. But here is a painfully edited list of some perennial favorites: Leonard Baskin, Kathe Kollewitz, Nathan Oliveira, Kurt Schwitters, Margaret Kilgallen, Edvard Munch, Maurice Sendak, Katsushika Hokusai, and Andy Goldsworthy. I fall hard for raw beauty and hard-won emotion (terrifying stuff, and so tricky to get right.) And rich color and high contrasts. And texture. And text. And maybe a little mental illness.
I see a lot of amazing work on the internet--on people's blogs, on Etsy, wherever. I guess the internet has taken the place of the library stacks, and that's good and bad. Part of my problem is I look at remarkable work and get excited and then forget where I saw it. But I love that artists can get such widespread exposure without having to wait around for a book to be published about them.
Five movies! Two films by Tom Tykwer that I am crazy for are "Heaven" and "The Princess and the Warrrior." Also, "The Secret Life of Words," and "The Lives of Others," are immaculately gorgeous. I can't get the images from "Let the Right One In" out of my head. On a lighter note, I am every bit as in love with "Singing in the Rain" as I was at age eight. It's perfect.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
I don't have a hot plan for ten years time. I'd like to be taking more chances with my art. I'd like to do an artist's residency somewhere beautiful with a different kind of landscape and climate, and be incredibly productive. I'm pretty happy living in Portland, where it's normal to ride your bike and grow your own food and make things by hand. Being a full time artist would be cool, as long as I can find a way to do it without getting too isolated or preoccupied with my own head. I would miss working with the kids but I think I'd continue with "creature of the day," by making little screenprints, and try to bring to people's attention, with love, the horrifyingly long list of threatened, endangered, and extinct species. But I can't get too ahead of myself with a plan. There has to be room to see as you go, and let things take shape as they're meant to.
Shown here above are three images of work from Sarah's gorgeous must see Etsy shop: The Bride and the Bear, Tall Meerkat and Flower and Ginkgo Cards. Below are some of Sarah's customized ASL letters that she can make upon request! Thank you so much again Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions!