Supergraph 2015


Hi folks!

I’m in Melbourne for Supergraph – it’s a 3-day contemporary graphic art fair that’s celebrating design, print and illustration and is chock-full of workshops, games and fun for the entire family! It’s on from 13th to 15th February so if you’re in the vicinity, come on by and maybe we’ll bump into each other! 😉

For updates and pictures, follow me on Instagram!

Artist Interview: Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson


I’m heading up to Australia next week for Supergraph 2015, and one of the artists who will be heading up a masterclass over there is Sarah Beetson, of whom I had the pleasure of interviewing! Read on about what makes her tick and how she ended up working with the fun people of Supergraph!

Name: Sarah Beetson
Website |  BlogShop 
Wongawallan, SE Queensland, Australia (I spend 3-6 months per year in the UK / USA)

Illustration media:
An inexhaustive list of materials which I am constantly adding to, but often includes paper, wood, photographic prints or fabric, spray paint, tissue paper and collage, Pilot G Tec C pens, acryl-gouache, markers, gel pens, crayon, stickers, vintage magazine clippings, beads, sequins, letraset…. and more.

Tell us a little more about yourself!

I was born in Manchester, UK and grew up in Cheshire, Cornwall, and London before moving to Melbourne, Australia in 2006, then to my boyfriends’ family farm in 2009, where I live in a converted dairy and have a giant art studio next door. As a child, my ambition was to be a childrens illustrator like Quentin Blake, and I would make my own illustrated, hand written stories a little along the lines of The Munch Bunch and The Garden Gang, both of which were illustrated by young girls. My grandmother ran a pub, so my brother and I spent our weekends there occupied with colouring in books and sketch pads. I studied Illustration at Falmouth in Cornwall, where I developed my signature style, before moving to London and interning in the fashion industry, eventually securing 2 agents and moving on to freelance illustration.

Are you a full-time artist?

Yes and no! I earn 100% of my living from illustration, working part-time as a talent scout for my agent, Illustration Ltd, and the rest of my time is spent freelancing as an illustrator and creating art for exhibitions.


Sarah Beetson


Where do you live? What stands out about living where you are, and what is your daily schedule like?

I live on a farm, which means I get to eat homegrown organic fruit and veg like avocados, macadamias, mangos, sweet potato, rocket and watermelon (and so much more!) on a daily basis! I have pet chickens who free range and will often spend the day hanging out with me in the studio (sometimes they even lay eggs in there, it’s a very creative place!) There’s also Mr Hoppity the wallaby who drops by daily, and a whole host of other wild animals like kookaburras, laurekeets, bandicoots and even the occaisional koala (on the downside, we also get snakes and spiders!) The climate is sub-tropical so we get sunshine most days, we are surrounded by rainforest and palm tress and the beach is a 25 minute drive. We are also really close to both Brisbane and The Gold Coast, so I have the best of both worlds in terms of city inspiration and uninterrupted peaceful working envoironment. My living costs here are low, which allows me to travel for 3-6 months of the year, usually to the UK but I also spend a bit of time in the US and Europe. My daily schedule begins with a yoga class, then I tend to work on my agency scouting job in the mornings, going into the studio in the afternoon to work on commissions and art projects.

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start on a piece or a project?

I begin by brainstorming ideas and researching the subject in question. If possible, I will then do a photoshoot to get reference material to work with, or I will source images from my catalogue of photos, books etc or the internet. I always work from photographic reference – never straight from my head – I like to give myself all of the available information before beginning a piece. I will then create sketches, if for a client, once approved I will then beginthe final art by creating a background, working on paper, wood, photographic prints or fabric, often using spray paint, tissue paper and collage to form a background. I will then create the line work using Pilot G Tec C pens. The rest is a combination of an inexhaustive list of materials which I am constantly adding to, but often includes acryl-gouache, markers, gel pens, crayon, stickers, vintage magazine clippings, beads, sequins, letraset…. and more.

Sarah Beetson


What’s your favorite project so far?

Among these have been working with Stella McCartney in the early days of her label, working with Mary Portas at Yellowdoor, illustrating for major newspapers including The Globe and Mail (Toronto), The Times and The Telegraph (UK) and The Miami Herald, winning the Creative Review (UK) Best in Book prize for illustration in 2011, being shortlisted for the 2012 Metro Award (a $50,000 Australian Art Gallery Prize), exhibiting at Somerset House, London, as part of Pick Me Up 2012, and being invited to exhibit “Rainbowspective” in Paris in 2012, showing the best of the previous 5 years of my work. Recently I illustrated Wonder Woman for Smithsonian Magazine which was a great honour, and completed a 3 month artist residency in Coney Island, New York. I am creating an ongoing body of work around Coney, my favourite place of inspiration, and I’ll be returning again briefly in summer 2015. I just finished a fantastic campaign for a very big client which I can’t disclose until July 2015 – but that one was also very exciting!

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?

Sarah Beetson

I don’t usually have a sketchbook as such, I’m not quite that organised – things tend to end up all over the studio in parts. I did however keep one during my Coney Island residency, and some of the pages from it have been turned into a colouring boom which I’m launching at Supergraph in February (image above!)

Would you care to share your studio space as well?

Sarah Beetson


What or who inspires you?

I would say film is the greatest continual influence on my work. Particularly the films of John Waters have had a profound affect on my aesthetic, in that they have really encouraged me to find my own artistic voice and not be constrained or afraid to censor myself in any way. The 1993 classic True Romance has been very influential on me — I even named my Camden Market clothing label ‘Clarence & Alabama’ after the lead characters, back in 2003. It is the candy colored, sun-drenched, palm trees and cheap motels combined with Elvis, rockabilly and ‘white trash’ culture that has saturated my work the most. I try to take in two movies a day, and can often spend a day in the city cinema hopping and taking in five or six films.
Growing up in the 80s and early 90s definitely influenced my colour palette, saturated with rainbow, pastel and neon tones. I’m sure that the colourful cartoons and TV of the 1980s, like The Care Bears, Wuzzles, Popples, The Racoons, Teddy Ruxpin, Punky Brewster, Jem and The Holograms and The Garbage Pail Kids were a big influence on my later colour palette.
In terms of other artists, over the years I have enjoyed the work of Antoni Gaudi, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Julie Verhoeven, David Downton, Antonio Lopez, Jamie Hewlett and many, many more.


Sarah Beetson

Could you share with us your progression as an artist — compared to when you first started out, how has your style changed since then?

When I first started out, my style was definately a lot more loose. I developed it by bringing together all of the different art materials I liked to work with, and combining them using the blind contour drawing technique. So early results were quite squiggly lines, and the drawing was much more rough. In the years that followed I have definately tightened up my drawing skills, and as a result, my work has a tighter finish. Here’s a then and now look at the difference:

Here’s what I did in 2001/2:

And here’s what I did in 2014:

Sarah Beetson


Sarah Beetson


What’s your favourite tool?

Hmmm, a toss up between Pilot G Tec C and Maica pens and Holbein Acryla gouache.

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
I am happy for people to interpret it as they please, but I hope that it continues to stand out as fairly unique in an internet image led world of saturated same-same art and illustration styles.

Tell us a little bit more about your show for Supergraph 2015. What do you have planned? How did you initially get involved?

I met Mikala whose brainchild is Supergraph, a few years back through our involvement with L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week. We met up again whilst I was exhibiting at the similar Pick Me Up Graphic Arts Fair at Somerset House in London, and we both mused that Australia needed something similar. I exhibited last year at the Inaugural Supergraph and it was a great success, so it is something I hope to continue to do annually. Last year I gave more of an overview of my work; this year will have a focus on my Coney Island project. I’ll be exhibiting painted polaroids, as well as creating bespoke versions for visitors to order onsite. I will have a Coney Island capsule clothing collection, more original artworks, and my onsite sketchbook available as a printed colouring in book, as well as postcards, badges, print leggings, scarves, saucy playing cards, and a plethora of other goodies.

What’s next for you in the coming few years?

More travel, USA and UK this year, possibly more exhibitions with a focus on graphic arts fairs both in Australia and overseas, hopefully some delicious illustration commissions with exciting brands and publications, and developing my Coney Island body of work further.


Catch Sarah at Supergraph in Melbourne, Australia from 13 to 15 February 2015 at The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton – if you’re heading there, drop me a note and let’s meet up!

Amelia’s Magazine 10th Anniversary Kickstarter Special


When I found out that Amelia’s Magazine was coming out with a new printed book, I could not contain my excitement! For those who are not familiar with the magazine, it’s a treat indeed – it’s a big tome filled with lots of illustrations, eye candy and made with love and dedication by Amelia Gregory. Ever since it stopped its print run a few years back (although it still exists as an online magazine), I was pining for the day when it would be brought back in its tangible, physical form.

And that day is finally here. To celebrate Amelia’s Magazine 10th year, they’re holding a special Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a limited edition book with the theme That Which We Do Not Understand which runs from now until 29th November 2014.

I sat down and wrote to Amelia to ask her some questions about the exciting new campaign:

Hi Amelia! Congrats on celebrating 10 years of Amelia’s Magazine! Could you tell us what’s in store after a decade of being such a big part of the illustration industry?

Thank you! It’s very kind of you to say I’m a big part of the illustration industry, but I feel as though I operate on the fringes, offering a forum for artists of all kinds to showcase their work. Many go onto much bigger things, which I hope is in part due to the exposure that I offer them. I hope that my 10th anniversary limited edition artists’ book, themed around That Which We Do Not Understand, will be a reminder that the printed medium can be an enormously important and influential way to share art with the world. After a few years of working entirely online it’s really exciting to think I will once again make a tactile object.

I’ve always appreciated that your magazine is a work of art – truly. The incredible amount of detail and work that goes to each issue is phenomenal. How did Amelia’s Magazine get its start?

It began life 10 years ago in 2004, after much deliberating and research. I wanted to make a magazine that was a very personal affair, unmuddled by the demands of advertising and big corporates. At that point I could not design so I persuaded a graphic designer to mock up a few pages of the magazine and went in search of a print company and paper merchant who might support me in my dream. Luckily I found Principal Colour and they have been an integral part of Amelia’s Magazine ever since. I’ve used a variety of high quality papers over the years, but now I am excited to be working with Antalis, who are providing beautiful recycled stock for my upcoming book.


Tribal Cumulus by Mateusz Napieralski for Amelia’s Magazine That Which We Do Not Understand. 
Shamaness by Essi Kimpimäki for Amelia’s Magazine That Which We Do Not Understand.

What were the problems that you’ve run into during the publishing of Amelia’s Magazine? Why did you decide to end its print run?

I always said I would create 10 issues and then see how I felt about continuing. By 2009 I was exhausted with trying to find the advertising to support the print costs (I was never very good at doing the required networking) and wanted to concentrate on creating daily online content instead. I also wanted to try writing some books and knew that I could not do everything so something had to give. On the website I no longer take advertising, which is not very sustainable as I currently have no income. But I am desperate to get back into print properly, and if all goes well with the campaign to raise funds for That Which We Do Not Understand then I plan to relaunch the website and print magazine, and have plans to make them self sustainable without advertising.

Why have you decided to use Kickstarter to fund this book?

I want to ensure that all costs are met and I don’t overproduce or get into debt. As any small publisher knows, it can be very hard to anticipate demand and I have had a lot of issues with storage and distribution over the years which I really want to avoid this time around. To secure a copy of the book a pledge must be placed because I will basically print a run to suit demand, with only a few spares destined for key bookstores such as the Tate. It’s going to be very beautiful: printed on high quality thick paper, with gold spot printing throughout. Kickstarter is completely nerve-wracking because you have to raise the entire amount or you don’t get any of it, so it’s a very good indicator of whether people like what I do.

When I got that email from you about a special edition printed book, I knew it was going to be good. Could you tell us why you chose the brief “That Which We Do Not Understand” for the edition?

In the past year I’ve had two late miscarriages and they have inevitably led me to think about things we don’t understand. We don’t really having a decent comprehension of why certain things happen to our bodies, or why certain events occur in our lives… and I wanted to explore the many ways that humans try to make sense of the world. It’s a very wide open theme and has already produced some amazing and very varied work. As well as opening the brief up to artists, for the first time I have also invited people to submit creative writing. I am super pleased with the response I’ve had so far! There are still a few days to get involved if any of your readers would like to submit work. (Amy: The closing date for submission is 16th November, so hurry!)

I love that a big part of Amelia’s magazine is about collaborations. Tell me, has the collaborative process changed from when you first started, to this current day?

I love collaborating with other creatives, and you are right, this is what has made Amelia’s Magazine what it is! There are many challenges involved with working with so many people, such as keeping on top of multiple conversations, dealing with deadlines and giving very concrete instructions to ensure that submitted work is right for publication. Since the magazine’s inception the internet has changed dramatically, and I have had to keep apace with the myriad ways in which we communicate. Luckily I love social media, and am so thankful for the way it has enabled me to collaborate with people across the globe.


Thanks so much Amelia!

To be a part of the campaign and to get your copy of the limited edition book, head over to Amelia’s Magazines’ Kickstarter campaign!

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