Monday 29th August 2016

Sara Blake

I caught up with artist and illustrator Sara Blake living in New York about her tatoos, beautiful works and life in general.

When did you get your first tatoo?  I got my first one as SOON as I turned 18. I’m such a sucker for love so my first one was this terrible celtic love knot on my shoulder given to me by the first love of my life. I learned my lesson very quickly, thank goodness… no more tattoos that mean things about other people. That one has long since been covered up.

What inspires you for them? Now they are mostly just aesthetic for me. They are just big decorations. I love all the color. My artist Steve Boltz is known for his really clean, bold lines and amazing use of color so I think, first and foremost, I’m inspired by him and his art. I’ll have to caveat that I do have a couple small ones that mean something. On my wrists I have “since feeling is first” after my favorite E.E. Cummings poem. I’m ruled by heart, for better or worse, and for the most part I’ve learned that I always know what is right in my heart before my head. It’s a reminder to feel everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly—to let my feelings guide me.

How many more can we expect? As many as it takes to fill up the rest of my skin! I have my stomach, ribs, feet, palms, some fingers, and my neck left. If you ask my mom though, I’m trying to keep some negative space.

What stories do they tell?  I don’t intentionally get tattoos with meaning, so not much. All my stories have been in the experience of getting them, hanging out at the shop and Steve’s apartment, and from wearing them out in the world, which for me is more exciting than trying to force meaning into something. They have meaning based on when I got them in my life and the people who got to know them with me first.

[Profile of Sara Blake and her collection of tatoos]

What do you do and how did you end up doing it? I’m an illustrator or an artist, whichever you prefer. I’m not sure exactly how I got here other than I’ve always known I wanted to do art since I was a wee person. It’s just something that I always need to do for myself. I’d do it whether I got paid for it or not.

What are you working on at the moment? Nothing. I’m taking a break. Just kidding, that’s not true. I still have 87 more girls to draw for my 100 Girls series and I’m working on launching a scarf line that has been taking forever since I’m managing everything from the marketing to production to the packaging myself. We’re on the home stretch though! A few more weeks…

What makes you happy? Running brings me joy. Finishing a new work brings me a sense of peace. I think I’m still trying to figure out what it is that makes me happy. Maybe balance?

What gets you out of bed in the morning? Recently it has been the opportunity to try and grow. The hope is that good work will naturally follow, but work cannot be the focus. I think I’ve been putting the cart before the horse for a long time.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? Right here in New York—or in Paris. Paris, Paris, Paris…. one day.

What’s your favorite hang out in New York? My coffee shop on Sullivan Street called Local. I’ve gone there every day, twice a day for years. It’s my little happy place.

What annoys you? Indecision, both in myself and others. Loud noises.

What inspires you? New experiences. People who live according to their own rules and beliefs and help others realize it’s possible for all of us. People with passion and drive and energy. Nature. Music. Fashion. Food. Anything that awakens pleasure points on a visceral level.

What are your current obsessions? Trying to get a full night’s rest. Taxidermy. Standing desks.

What would you eat for your last meal? My mom’s carrot soup.

What makes you laugh? Ridiculous, stupid, innapropriate potty humor. Really silly looking happy animals that are oblivious to the rest of the world. Experiencing a new sensation for the first time that we don’t have language for.

What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you? It’s always falling in love and always will be. That’s what it’s all about. I think it will be really exciting to fully learn how to love one’s own self too, but I think that’s a lifelong experience. I of course love cheap thrills too. Walking along SkyTower in Auckland was pretty fun (and touristy)! Traveling alone in general is incredibly thrilling.

Who are your favorite artists/designers at the moment? Classics I always turn to: Gustav Klimt, Ernst Haekel, and Wolfgang Hutter. My friends are pretty inspiring too: JP Thurlow, Sougwen Chung, Joshua Davis. Lately I’ve also been loving Serena Cole, Pat Perry, and Yael Balaban.

What’s on your bedside table? Antique fan, moleskin, pencil, phone charger, headphones, water.

How would you describe your personal style? Fashion wise, I’ve been told I dress like a Sith and I took it as a great compliment. All black, sometimes grey or brown. Art wise, I guess freestyle or whimsical, which I think is a product of never trying to be too prescriptive. I don’t really sketch too much before starting a piece. I also love color, so maybe I siphoned all the color out of my closet so I could put it in my work.

What is your personal hideout place/ inspiration location? Wherever my evening run takes me. Usually along the waterfront, and if I’m lucky, right as the sun is setting.

What do you never leave the house without? My glasses (or contacts) and my keys but that’s pretty much about it. I usually have my phone and headphones. I have this giant bag but it doesn’t have much in it. There is something really liberating about running around the city with nothing on you. I think we gals need to start utilizing our pockets more and ditch our purses!

To see more of her work go to her website. 


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