Sarah Adair, a newly graduate in illustration from Ulster University. Whilst we’ve got your attention did you know that Ulster has several possible derivations; from the ‘Norse’ name “Uladztir”, which is an adaptation of Ulaidh – Irish for land. Anyway, back to Sarah.
Introduce yourself to those who may not know who you are.
I’m Sarah Adair and a recent graduate of the Graphic Design and Illustration course at Ulster University, whose art and design courses are based on Belfast campus. I’m half Irish and half English and raised in Co. Donegal, which is on the beautiful Northwest, coast of Ireland and I now live in Belfast full time. I’ve been drawing and creating since I’ve been able to hold a pen (as my Mum keeps reminding me with a whole stash of my childhood doodles) and I’ve always known there was nothing else I wanted to do more with my life.
How did you find the transition from being a student to graduate feel?
It was definitely a challenging experience! You’re going out into the creative field against so many of your talented peers and I kept feeling like I needed to have my life all put together as soon as I graduated. I’m slowly finding though that it’s okay not to have your life entirely together and if you put in the work every day, good things will come. I’ve had amazing support from my boyfriend, family and friends so I owe a lot of the easing the transition to them.
Talk us through your work experiences and how you ended up illustrating for Little Wing Pizzeria – have you managed to create all of the illustrations on their website, or is it just a print commission?
When I was about to graduate, I applied for a three-month internship with a local hospitality company, Beannchor Ltd., who run Little Wing pizzeria. I had a brilliant time working as an in-house designer for them, but in the end we agreed that illustration was my real strength and passion and they offered me a freelance tender for Little Wing. My illustrations are fairly new, most of the illustrations widely in use were created by Petra Wolsey, the head marketing director, and in turn a local illustrator: Mark Reihill. At the moment I’m currently working on a children’s colouring sheet, but who knows what I’ll be doing in the future!
Tell us what you’d say to yourself before starting university?
It’s easy to compare yourself to others, but try not to. Throw yourself into projects and don’t be precious with them. And most importantly of all, art is subjective; listen to your gut more than your tutors. They’re there to help you by all means but at the end of the day your artistic voice comes from within, listen to it!
Name three things from your freelance studio that you could not work without…
Tikky Graphic Pens, the staple of my outline style. My light box, really saves time on re-drawing. My coffee percolator, never underestimate the power of a good cup of coffee!
Talk us through YCN Expansion portraits – was this set as one of your university projects or a personal piece? Where are the final portraits now?
I was originally planning on entering the YCN brief for Fever Tree last year, which was to design a set of limited edition labels for ‘Malaria No More’ a charity that helps reduce mortality rates in countries where malaria is prevalent. The countries I chose were Iran. China, Nepal and India. I feel the more I got into this project. This was a brief for university in the second semester of final year, where we set our own briefs. The countries I chose were Iran. China, Nepal and India. I feel the more I got into this project, the more the design side fell away and the more I felt strongly about capturing the people of these countries, their culture and bringing some humanity to the cause. The final portraits are…. Somewhere in my studio space; I say studio space but it’s actually a glorified kitchen table!
If you weren’t studying an arty sort of degree, what would be another pathway for you and why?
I honestly don’t know! I wanted to be a midwife when I was younger, then a vet, then a teacher…I think I’d probably say teaching though, as its a career path I’ve considered within my practice for later down the line!
What is next for you with the world at your fingertips?
At the moment I’m just trying to build up my reputation, and currently working on a brief for D&AD alongside my freelance. I’d really love to illustrate for publishing or editorial as reading and current affairs are some of my other big passions. My boyfriend finishes university next June, so a move over to mainland UK or Europe might be on the cards!
Quick Round Questions!
Marmite or Peanut Butter? Peanut Butter!
Balloons or Bubbles? Bubbles!
Pen or Pencil? Pen!
Concept or Final Piece? Concept!
Morning or Evening? Morning!