Website: Sarah Lugg
Biography: Sarah is an English artist who works in mixed media. She was brought up in the beautiful countryside in the south of England, spending her weekends and most of her holidays with her Grandparents on the Isle of Wight. These formative years of beach combing have greatly influenced Sarah’s work today.
How did you begin?
After graduating in graphic design she spent her early twenties working as a designer for Sir Terence Conran, then moved onto freelance work which enabled Sarah to spend more time working on her collages and paintings. It wasn’t until 1995 that Sarah became a full time artist exhibiting twice a year in New York at the Gift Fair and having gallery shows back in England. The demand for Sarah’s originals lead to her and her husband publishing a series of limited edition prints.
A combination of this and the publicity she has attracted, including being Artist in Residence for Victoria magazine has lead to an ever expanding licensing program of Sarah’s images Worldwide. These include: a large range of stationery, posters, wrapping paper and totes, gift books, paper napkins and plates, calendar, T-shirts, wedding stationery and to be launched Christmas 2002 a large range of Christmas ornaments. 2003 will see Sarah as the lifestyle girl for Marshall Fields.
What do you do and how did you start? How old were you when you realized you wanted to do what you’re currently doing and how old were you when you actually began.
I am an artist who has specialized in mixed media paintings and collages. I am most well known for my ‘tag’ collages, as I say to people I am the ‘Tag Lady’ not to be confused with the ‘Bag lady’!
What jobs did you have before you went out on your own?
I have always wanted to be an artist, that’s why I went to art school. I never thought though that I would be able to earn my living from just painting! It was a commercial decision on my behalf to study graphic design. Iworked as a graphic designer for Conran Design for a couple of years and then freelanced for three years for design companies and a children’s television company. It wasn’t until 1995 that I started working full time as an artist.
What steps did you take to create your own business?
The biggest step I took to get to where I am today came about after a wonderful commission of 60 pieces for the British part of the U.N. in New York. It was after spending all that time painting that I thought there was no way I was going back into a design studio. But how to earn a living? Friends of mine told me about a trade show they were applying for in San Francisco and suggested I gave it a go. I was accepted and was helped by a grant from the British government. This was a massive step for me as I had never exhibited at a trade fair before let alone one several thousand miles away! Anyway my husband and I took ourselves and 20 Sarah Lugg originals off to San Francisco. The response was overwhelming and I guess I’ve never looked back. Not that it was all plain sailing I promise you. The next big step was my husband coming to work with me and going into licensing, this was a hard decision to make, but one I have not regretted for one moment.
What kind of formal education, training or experience do you have that applies to what you do?
My foundation course and degree in Graphic Design have help enormously, particularly the graphics for two reasons firstly it stopped me from becoming an introverted artist and secondly helps me enormously from a design view point with my licensing partners especially as I become more and more involved with three dimensional products. I would say that my Mother has been the most influential person for my work and career. She too was an artist and embroider. She is the one who taught me how to really see things and how to express myself artistically.
I first sold my work in galleries and I didn’t do very much to market myself due to lack of confidence. I soon realized this had to change, if I wanted people to know about me I need to get some exposure. I have used the gallery shows as a way of introduction to magazines and the response has been wonderful.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do? The most frustrating?
The most rewarding part of what I do is the response from people to my work, it seems to enchant people which is always very pleasing. The most frustrating thing about what I do is there isn’t enough time to do all the things I want. Too many ideas and too many projects and only one me!
Do you have any fears about what you do, and if so, how do you deal with them?
I guess my main fear is that I the creativity may dry up. I experienced this to a certain degree last year when my beloved Mother died. She and I were very close, both artist and both only children. For months I drew a blank over my collages, this was very scary but I knew it was part of the mourning process. Luckily I’m painting again now but I don’t want to go there again I can tell you.
What kind of work environment do you have?
I have a lovely studio in my home. this is my choice to work from home, no time wasted traveling and enables me to combine running a home and business. I generally work an 8 -9 hour day working off a huge table about 5′ x 8′, of course you can’t see a square inch of the surface.
Have you encountered any financial obstacles, and if so, how did you overcome them?
So far I have not encountered too many financial difficulties, obviously there were times when one had to do some serious budgeting and juggling, but fortunately not too many. My husband always says that the one advantage of working so hard you don’t have time to go shopping!
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success changes as my business grows, the more I achieve the more I want to achieve. I think my summing up of success would be doing what you love and being appreciated for it.
Who or what are your inspirations?
My inspirations are wide and varied, my Mother taught me to keep my mind open. Here are some of my influences – Nature both wide and in the confines of a garden. Traveling seeing new places meeting new people. Junk shops and flee markets. As for artists, Mary Feddon, Lenore Tawney and Mary Newcomb to mention just a few.
Words of advice for those pursuing their creative goals.
As for words of advice to those pursing their own creative goals I would say don’t loose sight of what you are and what you want to be, believe in yourself. If there are tasks to do which are not your forte in my case finance and contracts let someone else do it. A piece of advice given to me at the beginning was get a good lawyer and they will save you money in the future, this was a very sound piece of advice and I’m still to this day grateful for it.