Sarah Burrows is a self-taught mixed media artist, specialising in colour pencils and fabric design. Starting at a young age and winning her first art contest at age fifteen. Shara held her first solo exhibition in January 2012, and has also participated in several group exhibitions locally and regionally. We were curious about her thoughts on creativity, so we reached out to her and this is the result of the conversation. Do enjoy.
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity is the ability to express what makes you unique. As a visual artist, I translate my environment and my feelings into my artwork. My feelings and my experiences are what makes me unique; it is what fuels my creativity.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
It does not matter whether it's innate or an acquired skill, to be honest, it can be a mixture of both genetics and environment. What is important is that you are constantly creating in one form or the other.
When did you realise that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
I never came to such a realisation, I have always been a creative soul. As a little girl, I would 'borrow' my brother poster paints early on a Saturday morning to paint. In primary school, I would use crayons to fill in the blank lines in the pages of my copy books. At the secondary level, I had an extremely relaxed art teacher, who educated us via stories about his time in Jamaica. In essence, I just never stopped creating. Was it encouraged?, well it was neither encouraged or discouraged it's just something I've always done.
What is your standard for evaluating your creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are financial rewards relevant to your projects?
My standard is simple, I ask myself, is this artwork telling its story effectively? If yes, I leave it be, if no, I will rework it to my liking. I do not offer critique unless asked, but my methods of evaluation are the same. With regards to monetary rewards, it depends on what your goal is if you view your talent as a profession, then as with all other professions, you must be paid. If you use your creativity in a non-profit organisation, the monetary rewards are not as important. However, it is challenging to run any project without some level of financial assistance, whether creative or not.
Do you think your perception and evaluation of your creative endeavours are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you believe the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
Yes it is, but not greatly. I am a relatively strong willed individual, but I do hear the opinions of others. I hear it I process it, but it does not always affect my behaviour or my artwork. My artwork typically does not reflect my 'culture' it is a reflection of myself, hence only what I can identify with in my culture will find its way onto my canvas/paper.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
I doodle, I draw patterns repeatedly until I figure out what it is I want to do. Also, I may change my medium, typically that helps.
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Don't mean to sound cliched but 'I just do it', I grab a pen and a piece of paper and sketch out the idea. I make a list of all the things I need to do to make my idea into a reality.
Do you have any special rituals that you do to achieve your creative goals?
Lists, as I said before, I make a list, revise the list and so on and so forth until I accomplish my goals.
Stylistically, has your creativity changed as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how?
My style is the same, bright, bold colours and intricate patterns. However, my skills have improved significantly. I have a much better understanding of colour theory and the human form. I've also gained a lot of experience using different wet and dry media.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
My time. I work an 8-4 job outside of the creative field, so a substantial portion of my 'free time' is devoted to art.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
My positive spirit and my closest friends. I have a strong sense of determination and one or two friends who are always there to prop me up when my confidence is low.
Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
At the end of the day, you still have to justify your work, with or without the acceptance of others. It is you, who decides how valuable other people's opinions are to you.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes, but not considerably. My own opinion of my work is what has the greatest weight.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
If I don't like it I change it; it can always be reworked if it's on canvas. And for the stuff that can't or I choose not to change, it's a nice reminder of my younger self.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Yes, by working harder. In the arts, it's practice, not magic, so how do I work through doubt? I put in the hours, learning new skills and repeating them. Just keep learning.
What piece of work are you most proud? Why?
'Colours of Love' that piece opened the door to an artistic career, and it's the only piece that I will not sell. It was one of the winners of the Queens Park Oval 'One the wall, off the wall' art competition and it was displayed on Havelock street for almost two years. It was through that contest I discovered the art society and started to exhibit.
What is the best advice you've received that helped you move forward on your creative journey?
Practice not magic.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Networking is the key to being a successful artist. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and meet new people.
For what would you like to be most remembered?
The positive impact that my artwork has on the lives of others.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?