One-on-one with Sarah Ricketts

Boneshaker Press is proud to introduce you to Sarah Ricketts a new Boneshaker artist from London contributing to the second volume of Encounters with the Imaginary. Check out Sarah on her website !

What’s your background?

My background is in animation, but I have been a bit of a creative chameleon. I started as a freelance 3D character animator, then shifted into an in house artist for an advertising agency. That encompassed lots of skills: 3D animation, motion graphics and 2D animation, storyboards, websites, web page takeovers, posters and print work. You name it, in the years I was with the agency, I done it! Now I am compositing full time.

What got you interested in the arts to begin with?

I loved painting as a child, mainly because it was fun and I got to make a mess, I was never discouraged so I never really stopped. As time went on I realised I enjoyed the thrill of creating something out of nothing and watching people really connecting and reacting to it.

Sirens of the sea

When did you decide to dedicate yourself to art?

In the first year of junior school we had a film day and we were played Nick Park’s first Wallace and Gromit film, “A Grand Day Out.” Apart from it being an amazing short film, it clicked in my brain that this stop motion animation was made by adults. I realised then and there children do not make children’s content, adults do, so that meant there were adults out there still interested in what I was interested in: cartoons, drawing, and painting. I could grow up and still do what I loved and there would be other people who felt the same. That gave me an odd sense of belonging and clarity, I never questioned what I would do with my life from that point onward.


Do you remember the first piece of art you made that you were really proud of? The one that made you say “yes I am an artist!”

I’m not sure I have yet! I had some successful pieces of fan art on Deviant Art, but I don’t think I have ever had the knowledge to create an informed image until recently… Oh wait, yes there is a picture! One of the last pieces of art I created for Painting Drama, that is definitely the first time I had surprised myself and created something totally unique from a place of understanding.

SOS  (“last piece of art I created for Painting Drama”)

Do you collect anything?

Apart from art books I collect comics, original comic art boards, animation cels and everything to do with Bart Allen Flash/Impulse!

What research do you do?

Nowadays I research everything, I never used to, but after Painting Drama, I now cannot not research. I have a never ending Pinterest board where I pin everything and anything I can find on any minute thing that will be included in my image. I also read a lot about the subject to get ideas and gain understanding to try find the heart of the idea. Sometimes through reading up on a subject you learn things you never knew or find a perspective you never considered. A few times now I changed the whole approach to an image because I had found new information and a more interesting perspective.

What is your dream project? If there were no time/money restrictions what would you create?

I would create an ongoing webcomic… Or maybe multiple!


How has your practice changed over time?

I plan a lot more, my work has gotten more structure and focus. I was a classic for blank faces and no backgrounds for years, now I have more structure and I understand a lot more about what I am trying to communicate. I try to find story in the smallest things, and make sure that every piece of art contains a story—tiny or not.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best piece of advice I have ever received was from my first animation job after graduation. A teacher from the National Film and Television school at London came and freelanced on a project with us and shared a nugget of gold that I have remembered till this day. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” It’s amazing how that reaches into everything in life and it’s taken me awhile to realise that it applies in my art too!

Beast of burden

What is the most vital/indispensable tool in your studio?

I have a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and it has changed my sketching and drawing. I don’t go anywhere without it, I find it very versatile to use as it allows you to work delicalty and broadly. It has also got me back into drawing on paper, I went through a phase of only drawing on a Wacom tablet and I’m convinced I almost forgot how to draw traditionally. There are no layers and ctrl z on paper despite how much my hand was convinced there was! I like the permanence of it though, as it really requires me to think about the strokes I am going to make and which pieces of information are important vs what can be left out.

What are you working on right now? (Other than this project) What are you currently obsessed with?

I am currently working on a comic, and I’m using it as a practice to see how long the process will take. How long is it going to take me to write? To create pages? Should I color it? Shouldn’t I colour it? What do I need to be aware of before I jump into a big ongoing story? I’m really excited for the journey!

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