Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Art Space Talk: Sas Christian

Sas Christian’s paintings are intense. Inspired by anime and manga, Sas's 'big-eyed' super realistic style has won her great success in the pop-surrealism scene. Her oil paintings, which are often confused as digital art, have been highly sought after by art collectors and are admired by fans worldwide. Sas took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions. Enjoy.

Brian Sherwin: Sas, can you tell our readers how your youth played a part in your choice to embrace art as a career? Can you recall any early memories that helped to guide you on the path that you have been following with your work? When did you know that you wanted to pursue art for life?

Sas Christian: I guess I was about 10 when whilst I was at a friends house I was shown a book on the animations of Walt Disney, notably Mickey Mouse. It was an incredible book documenting all the incarnations up until that point and my friend and I would spend hours copying all the different styles of Mickey. I found it incredibly exciting and really enjoyed the process of drawing, coloring in, etc. I continued trying to mimic the images that I saw in that book, and moved onto drawing the human face, and composing pictures of many differing elements/images that would tell a story. Being an introverted kind of person, solitude really worked for me and I spent hours and hours creating color pencil art work. I didn't really experiment with paint - it wasn't as convenient as pencils and I couldn't get to grips with the whole paintbrush thing.

I was about 15 when I realized that I wanted to pursue art as a career, but I came up against tremendous opposition from my parents who didn't think it was a viable option for me. My mother would tell me that I just didn't have the talent, so not to bother. I believed her, and for the following 2 years I tried to find something I could do, but art kept calling me on. It was quite a struggle to persuade my parents to let me go to art college - and I settled on a graphic design degree as it seemed the most accessible and "bankable." In the end it didn't come in that useful - but it made me realize that my real ambition was to paint. But it would another 11 years before I would do so - I had very low self confidence, what can I tell you!

BS: Sas, you studied graphic design at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design-UK. I understand that your studies were a liberating experience for you. However, just after you graduated you were robbed- your entire portfolio of work was stolen and you had to start from scratch. What exactly happened? Did have doubt about your future at that time? Also, was the stolen art ever recovered?

SC: After graduating I had just been to London, on a job interview at a major graphic design company - they were very nice, but it was obvious that I hadn't enough experience for the position they were offering. I had left my portfolio in the back of my car, parked in a covered car park, whilst I was visiting a friend. When I came back my car window was smashed and it was gone. I was devastated. I had no copies of my work and I remember going to the police station to report the robbery and when the officer asked me what the value of the portfolio was I didn't know what to answer. I mean, how could I put a value on that? Never did recover it, or any of the work inside it.

BS: While in college you met your future husband, Colin. Colin is also an artists... have you two collaborated on projects together? Would you say that you have both improved as artists due to your relationship?

SC: We haven't collaborated on projects together lately, but years ago when we had a couture latex clothing company we would work together designing and creating different costumes, and then after that we would work together on commercial statues and murals for businesses. These days we're a huge influence on each other and we constantly bounce ideas back and forth. We're each others biggest fans and harshest critics. I consider Colin vital in my creative process. I most definitely think we've improved as artists because we get to use each other as sounding boards.

BS: Sas, you are known for creating paintings that have intense detail ... to the point that some viewers have confused your work for digital images. The vibrance of your paintings stems from a concoction of pigments, oils, and varnishes... how did you develop such a strong command of colors? Can you go into detail about how you have progressed in this manner?

SC: Um, I don't know. I know I have a strong sense of what I want to portray/say. I actually had to learn about the mechanics of oil painting from books I bought from Amazon - I then experimented on my own and still feel like I'm learning. It's an ongoing process. I use a variety of techniques depending on the effect I want to get. Glazing, scrumbling, wet on wet. I use it all.

BS: One of your main influences has been anime. Why are you so captivated by that style? Are you influenced by Takashi Murakami and the Superflat movement? Also, unlike most anime influenced art... your images are very lifelike- ones feels as if he could pinch the cheeks of one of your paintings. It is as if your work is inspired by both anime and old master techniques... is this so? Have you studied the old masters?

SC: When I was about 8 a Japanese friend of mine at school had shown me some dolls she had - they were hand-painted and had these vibrant large "manga" eyes. I was fascinated with them and it stuck. I have always been moved by the works of the old masters - although I can't say that I use one particular artists techniques.

BS: What else influences your art? Are their any social implications in your paintings? Do you have a message that you are attempting to convey with your work?

SC: Well, it's pro female of course. As for messages - yes, but it's up the individual to decipher it.

BS: Sas, are you working on any projects at this time? Also, do you have any upcoming exhibits?

SC: I'm busy working on many pieces for a large solo show for Opera Gallery NY in the spring of 2008. Also I'm going to be showing in Rome, London and China next year - it's going to be crazy.

BS: What is it like to be the studio of Sas Christian? Can you describe your studio to our readers? What are the conditions you need to work? Do you listen to music... or do you need complete silence? Give us the details.

SC: Small, busy and with the sound of barking dogs (mine)! Somewhat untidy I'm afraid, but with a good supply of candy on hand. I need good light. At the moment the front of my studio has floor to ceiling windows which not only has a fabulous view of Colin's workshop but provides me with excellent light..but very little privacy - I'm thinking about installing mirrored window film so that passers by stop ogling me! If I spoke to every one who just wanted to pop in for a chat, I'd never get anything done. I like to listen to a variety of music when I'm coming up with ideas for paintings. I find it very important. Colin will create play-lists for me and it really helps me think. But once they are drawn out I prefer to listen to audio books - the sound of a speaking voice is very soothing to me, and I like the fact that my mind can go elsewhere because each piece can take considerable time to create.

BS: Sas, you have been involved with Juxtapoz group shows and you have been featured in their magazine. How did you get involved with Juxtapoz?

SC: By buying ads, hehe. We began advertising Colin's sculptures in 1997, and developed a relationship with them from then on, particularly William. A good guy.

BS: Do you have any suggestions or advice for artists who are just starting out?

SC: Be prepared to be broke for a while and work your ass off. Never think your as good as your going to get - you can always be better. Be true to your vision and be prepared for rejection. It's happens to us all at one point or another - only the most dedicated will survive. Talent is only part of the equation - perseverance and a reliable work ethic is essential. Oh yeah...and don't shit where you eat.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the artworld?

SC: It's all good....
I hope that you have enjoyed learning about Sas Christian and her art. You can learn more by visiting her website: www.hotboxdesigns.com . Also, remember to check out my other interviews by visiting the myartspace.com interviews page: www.myartspace.com/interviews
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


God in the Box said...

this work . . . amazing . . . I don't know what else to say . . . I love it

David Eduardo NIño said...

great work, amazing!...

Anonymous said...

disgusting...and derivative.

Anonymous said...

Good call on removing that comment. You are doing a great job. Why pay for art magazines when this blog is around!


Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery said...

Nice interview with Sas! She truly is always evolving as we all should be! Yay for all the big eyed gals!

Anonymous said...

Excellent interview Brian...

Anonymous said...

I love the soft details and the amazing contrast.

Unknown said...

Wow,this is amazing,iam impressed buddy great work done.

Lisa said...

Thanks so much for introducing me to Sas Christian’s beautiful art. Love those huge glass like eyes, they really do look like the glass eyes of a doll only so much more life to them. Love it