Interview 52- Sara Winfield

Sara Winfield is an Illustrator and Artist from Perth, Western Australia. Her latest series of work looks at the world through the perspective of dreams and the imaginary. She is where she is today purely by taking each day as it comes. Read on to find out more about coping with the financial and emotional demands of being an artist and what stopped her from giving up. You can follow Sara on Instagram: @sarawinfield or head to her Website or Facebook.


Was this always what you wanted to do or did it emerge?

It definitely emerged! In high school I almost didn’t do Art as a final subject. I was always far more academic. I created from an early age, but believed I would write for a magazine or do something that required more structure. I was always sewing and drawing ‘fashion girls’ so fashion design just seemed like the right way to go. After a year and a half, I was only attending my drawing classes. With the encouragement of Anya Brock, my lecturer at the time, and friends and family, I am where I am today purely by taking each day as it comes!



Did you always feel different in any way?

Not really. I knew that I loved painting, sewing, crafting.. just generally creating from a young age – but then so did a lot of kids! In high school I was encouraged to be more academic than creative, and never actually considered fashion design properly until I was 16. I feel more different now than I ever have before because I don’t have a degree, didn’t complete my studies, paint everyday and make my own work rules – which none of my friends or family do or did.


How did others around you react to you following your dream?

Not very well at first. I come from a high achieving, academic family, that is generally pretty straight down the line. I did well in school and when I wanted to pursue studies in fashion, I felt like I was letting everyone down, like I should’ve done something that required a little more pen and paper. I did as well as you can in fashion studies – its all very vague and unstructured. But it wasn’t until my second year that I had fellow artist Anya Brock as my lecturer, that I became quite obsessed with the drawing aspect of it all. She encouraged me to draw and paint, rather than sew. I stopped going to studio classes and only went to drawing – and then I just stopped going to classes altogether. My parents obviously didn’t love this. I said I just wanted to paint and have exhibitions – which for any parent is probably unchartered waters. They encouraged me to go to University, which lasted two weeks, as the pull to draw and create was just too strong. Since then, I’ve had three exhibitions, countless live drawing sessions and have needed a shoulder to cry on nearly once a week! I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family and friend network. They come to everything I do, listen to me wail about the struggles of being an artist, offer emotional and financial support and advice to pull my socks up when I need it! Without the people around me, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.




Do people call you lucky and how do you respond to this?

Yes they do. It’s hard to respond to. I am not lucky – I’ve worked really hard and made A LOT of sacrifices to be able to get up and paint everyday. When all my girlfriends were off shopping for new dresses, I was working out ways to afford a $12 tube of paint. I haven’t been overseas since I decided to leave Tafe, and often struggle with the emotional and financial demands of being an artist. I believe I am lucky, but in a different way. It’s so easy for people to assume that being an artist is ‘living the dream.’ I might have a day where I get up, take my dog for a walk, get a coffee, draw a bit – but it’s usually because I have $6 in my bank and I am waiting for some lovely person to buy a print and get me through another few days! Haha.


What blocked your success and how did you overcome this?

Money. It will always be money. I worked in two or three jobs when first starting out painting. I’m not good with numbers so it never felt natural to me to create budgets or plan financially. I’ve fallen in a hole so many times and I only have the people around me to thank for pulling me out. I also struggled with the idea that I wasn’t doing ‘enough.’ It pushed me to create a swimwear line which stressed me out more than it bought me any joy. I’ve only just learnt in the past three weeks that as long as I’m putting my heart and soul into painting, it will always be enough.




What stopped you from giving up.

I’ve thought a few times now about getting a 9-5 job with a safe income and holiday pay! But, it would probably kill my soul. I need to be creative and now I’ve had a taste for how rewarding it can be, there’s no going back. I’m at my happiest when I’ve had a solid day of painting, received a few print orders, have new ideas brewing and can see that with hard work, it really does pay off.


What did you endure to get here?

Financial and emotional strain.




How did you overcome sharing your work?

That never really concerned me. If people didn’t like my work, they should just stop looking? Most of my earlier work was pretty raw. Quite scary actually! I am getting a far better and broader response these days.


How do you deal with criticism?

I don’t get massive amounts of criticism to be honest. Not about my work anyway. I find comments like ‘You’re so lucky,’ or ‘You live the life,’ to be critical in a way. I think people don’t realise how much of a strain it can be at times.


What inspires you?

I am obsessed with colour and feelings! I am highly emotive person, and believe that I respond to things like colours in ways that most other people don’t. When paint accidentally starts swirling on the canvas or I’ve ‘smooshed’ it in exactly the right way, I just feel so incredibly happy. Pastels make me feel sensual and pops of flurocents make me positive and energetic. I am inspired by my own feelings, womanhood, sensuality and colour.


Where do you go for creative inspiration?

I watch old artscape episodes, go on instagram or fellow artists blogs, internet trawl, flip through books, go outside for a walk, make something delicious, or chat to my boyfriend Sam. You can tell it’s pretty broad. Generally to feel inspired I either have to feel sensual, happy or encouraged by the success of other artists.


'STIMULATE' by sara winfield


What are you most excited for in the future?

Having recently decided not to continue my swimwear range, I’m really excited to just paint again. I can’t wait to just paint and get messy again. I’m hoping to secure some inspiring collaborations in the coming year. I’d love to join forces with people in bed linen, soft furnishings or swimwear (without actually producing it myself!)


What advice would you give yourself if you could go back?

Make a budget and be a bit thicker skinned!


What advice would you give to aspiring artists looking to create the life of their dreams?

Be smart about it. No artist ever made money from just sitting and painting and thinking that people would magically come and buy it. Do your research, make a budget and never underestimate the importance of marketing and PR.



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