Interview: Sarah McNeil

I’m so happy to start up the interview series again, and this time, it’s with the lovely Sarah McNeil of!


Pair of friends

Name: Sarah McNeil, but my friends just call me McNeils.
Location: Melbourne, Australia (right now, but I’m moving to Toronto in a month and a half)
Illustration media: pencil, paper cutouts, gouache

Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am a small girl with boyish charms and I like to wear big sweaters. My eyes are the colour of Antarctic glaciers.

How did you get your start in illustration?
I finished university last year and wondered what I could do with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts.Turns out not much, and so with the help of my mentor and spirit guide, let us call him Mr Anderson, I began learning how to refine my drawing skills and put them to some use. I am really shy in the real world and find it hard to talk to people, but the internet has been a great help in letting my art speak for itself, plus as I learn more about illustration and art, I have become more confident, and now people have started asking me how they should go about following their dreams and pursuing art/illustration as their career and it is wonderful to be able to help them.

A diorama she made for the latest issue of “Voiceworks” magazine was featured on the Craftzine blog.

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
I will draw a thousand sketches until I get something that works, then I make it. I like to look at animal picture books and usually have to go for a long walk to get my head clear before I start on the final piece. Often it ends up a lot different than I initially imagined, but I am usually happy with the results.

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?
Oh… um I usually erase my old sketches to save paper, but here’s some pre-eraseal!

What or who inspires you?
Mostly Tim Anderson. And the beauty and immensity of the sea. Sean Morris (from Perth in Australia) does some brilliant drawings that are also really great to look at too (I have one of them in my special drawings folder that I like to sneak peeks at occasionally).

What keeps you motivated?
Kindness from strangers and friends. Walks alone, new thoughts, a clean and tidy studio.

Stastictical Analysis of The Things That Happen But Don’t Matter and everything else zine

What’s your favourite tool?
6H Pencil. White paint. Coffee.

Are you a full-time artist?
YES!!! Forever.

What advice would you like to give people who would like to sell their works online?
Have confidence in yourself, but make sure that confidence is justified.

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
Making art, slightly less stressed out about everything. Perhaps married to someone beautiful and living by the sea. Maybe I will own a warm grey hat that keeps my ears warm so I can take long walks in the whistling winds.

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
This is all that I do. It is how I make my living, and although it is a modest life, I live happy and free. Everything is amazing and important.

Animal prints: Bunny and Fox

Tell us something random!
Right now I am sitting in a bar called “Workshop”. Drinking some golden ale, eating some chips (well I wanted an eggplant sandwich but it is past sandwich time).

Oh, and another thing that I think is very important… In my life I have this goal to only own one small suitcase worth of possessions, and I am almost down to this goal. I don’t really need anything more than this, everything else is just unnecessary extras.

{Thank you Sarah! And she also has a Flickr stream where you can see more the wonderful work that she does!}


I’m going to spot you again on Monday, as I’m recovering from a rather bad flu, so here’s hoping that your weekend is going to be a fabulous one!

4 Replies to “Interview: Sarah McNeil”

  1. Maria says:

    LOVE the “Statistical Analysis” and the 3D happy birthday! Beautiful.

  2. babelfish says:

    To have only one suitcase worth of possession is an admirable goal, love her work, great interview!

  3. hellojenuine says:

    she sounds like a lovely person. beautiful work.

  4. Camilla says:

    I love Sarah’s work- I just found a little note she sent me when I ordered some of her zines, it has a teeny tiny drawing on that I love to bits. I’m going to buy some of her orginal artwork someday soon.

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