Saturday, August 1, 2009

An Interview with Sarah Steinberg

The Crew is pleased to bring you an interview with Sarah Steinberg, a surface designer from Los Angeles, CA. Sarah creates graphics and patterns for products like textiles, wallpaper, stationery and pretty much any surface you can think of. She also happens to be a fellow graduate of Boston University, College of Fine Arts ('05). On a personal note, I always admired Sarah's work while studying design at BU, so it is exciting and inspiring to see how her worked has evolved since then. She was never afraid to take risks and was the first to remind me to loosen up and just have funwise words of wisdom that I still carry with me. Without further ado, enjoy learning more about Sarah!

1. Who or what inspires you?
Fashion always plays a huge role in what I do, so I usually start with fashion magazines. I then pull what I like best from the latest trends, and try to take it to another level, or where I think it might go next. Once I have some ideas floating, I dive into my collection of books, knickknacks, and fabrics and go to town with Google images. This can take awhile because I have a toooooon of stuff. I can’t help myself. I really enjoy traveling and tend to buy something, even just a postcard, to remind me where I’ve been. It’s usually from the cities museum or local crafts store. I also take a million photos. All for future reference of course.
I just traveled to the Grand Canyon for the first time, so I am really feeling everything “South Western” right now…
2. Do you have a favorite designer/artist?
Hmmm…. I can’t really think of many I don’t like, so choosing a favorite…. Ahhhok…. I really dig French design duo, Antoine et Manuel. They can bust a move in all fields of design, from furniture to brochures, while maintaining their aesthetic, which I totally heart. I don’t know how they do it! Each piece is its own little mad world, bursting with color and jam-packed with a mix of obscure images (found or hand drawn/painted/sculpted) and computer generated graphics and type. It’s all over the place, yet works. (See images below)

3. One word to describe your style:

4. What frustrates you most about design (or your biggest pet peeve)?
I can’t stand it when I can envision how I want my project to look and can’t quite execute it that way. Grrrrrr

5. If you could travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
I really miss Venice, Italy. I have been talking about going back for a while now. Don’t tease me ladies!

6. What is your favorite website to visit daily? Why do you like it?
When I need to step away from working I really enjoy checking out
It has absolutely nothing to do with design and everything to do with footballers. Yes, I’m talking cute soccer players and their drama. Basically Perez Hilton for the soccer world. It’s an awesome distraction – don’t judge.

7. If you could design or redesign anything, what would it be?
Oh wow, anything?! I’d love to design a collection of patterns for Matthew Williamson or Alexander McQueen.

8. What is the strangest request you’ve received from a client?
One of my clients wants to record me sketching for a mini movie of their product’s creation process. I guess it would be cool to have footage of a project from start to finish, but I don’t think I can draw with someone watching, and then be posted for the
world to see! Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?

9. Favorite color?
Cobalt blue. Have you ever seen an Yves Klein painting in person?!

10. Favorite font?
Avant Garde Gothic

11. Where do you usually work on your projects? Describe your workspace.
I am a freelancer so I do most of my work from home. The space is small, so I divided it into two sections – living and working. I had to choose furniture wisely. I made a wall unit out of IKEA bookshelves that holds all of my books,
knickknacks, and supplies. Next to that is my “desk” and trend board, which is a collection of images and objects that I will base my graphics on. I do most of my work on an IKEA dinner table. (Scandinavian furniture much?!) I placed the glass from an old frame on top for cutting and printing. On top of that, I have two glass containers filled with gouache and printing inks. I also always have my latisse pencil holder nearby, stuffed with all the essentials: pencils, brushes, x-acto knives, pens, and rulers. There is, of course, plenty of room for my computer, but since my bed is just a couple feet away, I tend to use my bed tray/desk for computer work. Maybe I just need to buy a better chair for my table… but it is a Louis Ghost chair!

Always fashion over comfort…

12. Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession?
Know your shit. Read every blog, book, and magazine you can get your hands on. Stay on top of what is going on now. Know which artists are doing well and what the consumers want. It also helps to be well rounded (work in all
programs and mediums), but it is also nice to be really great at one thing, which can set you apart from the rest. Don’t be afraid to experiment or initiate your own projects. Good luck!

13. If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do?
I think I would have to stay in a fun and creative environment. I have done some fashion styling on the side, so I would have to say Stylist. I use to work at a photo studio, and I always thought the stylists were so cool. They just strolled in with their racks and racks of designer clothing and boxes upon boxes of accessories, and just created different “looks” all day long.

14. What is one thing you wish you knew when you started your career?

I wish I knew how quickly projects needed to be completed in the real world. Time management is crucial. Unfortunately, I still work rather slowly, which is why I find myself working all hours of the day and night. Good thing I like what I do!

15. Describe your favorite project and why.

I had the opportunity to work for Sanrio and create graphics and patterns for Hello Kitty. Not only did I get to work with an icon (Hello, Mariah Carey has an entire room dedicated to her!), but the theme was “Art Mania”. At the time, paint strokes and references to fine art were splattered all over the fashion scene, so I was definitely excited. My two favorite worlds together a
t last! I was handed a bunch of images from Japanese fashion magazines and asked to make Hello Kitty an artsy, fashion diva. Good times…. (examples below)

16. Can you describe how your work has changed or evolved since you began your career?
I started out working mostly in the realm of branding as an in-house designer and now focus on graphics and patterns. I have always been fascinated with patterns and I still can’t believe those job opportunities fell into my lap! I have always been more illustration oriented (type is my Achilles’ heel), so stepping away from the brochures and signs was a real treat. I now find myself using the computer less and less and using my pencil, paints, and x-acto knife more and more, which I also enjoy.

17. Tell us three things about yourself that no one else knows.

1. Everything I own is organized by color. Everything. Ok, not everything. My dvds are in alphabetical order.
2. I set the sleep timer on my TV because I need to drown out all other noises. Unknown noises at night freak me out!
3. I have a crush on ABC news anchor, David Muir. I think it’s his hair…


Robert said...

i know that this isn't design related, but i have to say that i love; i spent probably 25 minutes looking around today, reading up on footballers and their wives [even though i certainly couldn't care less about soccer].

great interview!

Meghan B said...

Great font choice!
And GREAT interview! Thanks Sarah and Meghan!

Matthew Finlason said...

Nice blog. How do I get in touch with Sarah?