While designing the identity for the Pacific Asian Consortium for Employment, we were immediately drawn to the lyrical and playful approach of Sarah McMenemy’s illustration work. Her work has been published in picture books, food packaging, posters, galleries, environmental graphics, and more… seen both Internationally and locally around London, where she resides. Sarah’s work seemed to complement the feeling we were seeking out for the PACE Web site, and we’re very happy with the outcome.
Your work has a consistent charming style that is flexible enough to fit various industries and a broad range of clients including BBC, Mastercard, Singapore Airlines, Beefeater Gin, Kodak, Mercedes, Harrods, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Elle Magazine, and more. Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes mostly from a wide variety of artists and illustrators that I have admired over the years. Childhood picture books left a lasting impression. Artists such as Ardizzone, Sasek, Ravillious and Shirley Hughes lead to a fascination with drawing. As a student of Illustration fine artists such as Dufy, Matisse, Picasso, L’Autrec fuelled my work. As a professional my influences have broadened out to design in all it’s forms, architecture, nature. My own children provide enormous inspiration and have kept the sense of joy and celebration in my work.
Can you share a bit about your approach to the illustrations you did for PACE?
My approach to the PACE project was to create illustrations which would be engaging, uplifting and friendly, providing welcoming visual guidance to the potential clients who may be at a point in their lives when they most need help.
There were loose ideas for the concepts for all sections of the website within the brief. It was my job to make the ideas work visually and to capture the meaning in a symbolic way while creating an attractive and sympathetic image. Simple line roughs were developed then discussed and approved to move on to the next stage of adding colour. When colour roughs were approved, the artwork began, using Gouache watercolour paint, black ink and paper collage on watercolour paper.
The handmade and human touch lends itself to differentiating so much of what we see now on the Web, which is computer-generated imagery and stock imagery. The fact that you’re using such a tactile process is evident in the texture and whimsy of your illustrations. Is all your finished work done by hand?
Yes, all my work is done by hand. The act of drawing and painting on paper is central to the freshness and integrity of the image from my perspective. It is also a key part of the enjoyment of the process. It is a daily pleasure to be working on hand made paper, squeezing tubes of paint and dipping a pen into ink. Computers are a fantastic tool and are now vital for scanning, correcting and sending images but direct contact with materials is what inspires me.
How do you maintain balance in your life between work and play?
When I’m not working, singing in a choir plays a big part in my life, walking in the beautiful British countryside and coast, seeing friends and family, playing the piano and dancing. It’s important to keep some fun and joy in the week as it’s tempting to fill all available time with work when you are a freelance artist. I consider myself very lucky to enjoy my work and get huge satisfaction from it.
Thank you Sarah. You can see more of Sarah’s beautiful work on her Web site at http://www.sarahmcmenemy.com/.