Saturday, September 24, 2011

Interview: Sarah McCay

Sarah McCay is one busy lady! As a 26-year-old full-time artist and jeweller from New York, Sarah sells her beautiful work through her Etsy store and also finds the time to maintain a blog about her A Lost Feather brand, her life and a whole lot of gorgeous photography. She is definitely living one of my many dreams for my own future!

How old were you when you first started creating?
I started drawing and painting before I could write. Just like other little children I loved arts and crafts and that hasn't changed at all! I only started making jewelry two years ago. I especially love using my artwork in my jewelry designs.

Are your family members creative?
Yes, my mom's major in college was Fine Art. She became a teacher and she still paints unbelievably well.

What other work or hobbies are you involved with?
Aside from my own artwork and jewelry, I am a freelance designer and have worked on projects for independent blogggers/ artists and a few companies in corporate America. Before I decided to follow my dream of being a full time artists I worked in Marketing for Canon. I liked Canon, and still love their cameras of course, but cubicle life was not for me!

What artistic or jewellery making training do you have, and do you believe you have benefited more from formal lessons or your own experimentation in developing your style?
I took art classes all through my childhood and teenage years. In college I majored in Photography. My photography training has definitely helped strengthen my eye in many ways- balancing photos/paintings, understanding tonal range, and much more. I think it possible to learn to be an artist with no training, but it is helpful to have a teacher and a class full of students giving you constructive criticism- it helps you grow faster. As far as jewelry goes- I am self taught. I did take a couple of potter's wheel classes that taught me how to work with clay. They ended up being helpful since I do make a lot of clay pieces.

How do you record your ideas for new pieces? Do you keep a sketch book or journal?
I try to keep a journal, but I'm really bad at using it. I end up writing ideas all over the place and they end up in a big pile. I guess its kind of a journal- just a messy one. I do have a ton of journals though- I really need to start using them! I'm also pretty bad at using sketchbooks, but I'm trying to make it a habit to use them.

Do you have any routines that help you work best when creating?
I always have the tv on while I'm working, but I never look at it. I hear all these commercials and have no idea what they're selling. Lately I've been working while listening to the Harry Potter movies. I love Harry Potter. If I don't have he tv on I'm most likely listening to Mumford & Sons, Norah Jones, and The Honey Trees.

Do you remember the first piece of artwork or jewellery that you sold?
Yes, I do remember :) My first sale was to a coworker while I was at Canon. I had just opened my Etsy Shop and he saw it and immediately commissioned a portrait of his pet. It was actually a difficult painting- a hairless cat! It came out really great (thank gosh) and he was super happy. I was ecstatic. Also really nervous because custom work is nerve wracking- especially when the subject is so difficult.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I was featured in an Australian Magazine called Home Beautiful back in February. I have the magazine page framed in my house. Also, more recently, a boutique in Brooklyn, NY picked up my jewelry line and my designs will be for sale in their shop in the next few weeks! I'm verrrrry excited!

Who are your favourite artists?
My all time favorite artist is probably Edward Hopper, but it kind of depends on my mood. I also love Salvador Dali. There are many artists out there today that I absolutely love as well, such as Emily Martin of "The Black Apple."

What inspires you?
Everything really.. if I look at it long enough. Mainly the great outdoors. Traveling to different places brings me a lot of inspiration.

Do you have a favourite medium and colour to work with?
Watercolors and pencil. I like working with blues when it comes to paint and gold when it comes to jewelry.

Do you have any tips or lessons you have learned from your experience working on commissions?
Commissions are a good percentage of my work right now. When working on a custom piece for someone you need to keep the lines of communication open. You want to make sure you're meeting their expectations while being loyal to your own style.

How many hours in an average week would you spend creating your artwork and jewellery?
That depends because part of my work is shipping, packaging, e-mails, website.. it's not just artwork all the time. At first it was hard to balance that- it still gets tricky sometimes. I'd say I spend 5-8 hours per day actually making art, but I work 10+ hour days normally.

Do you have any particular goals for the next five years?
In the next 5 years I'd like to be selling through many different boutiques and getting closer to my goal of owning my own shop. Opening my own shop will take a lot of work, so I'm not sure it can be done in the next 5 years, but it will be done.


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i love those notebook designs & her blog x