Hi Sara! Whereabouts are you based?
I’ve been in the UK for the past six months after having lived in NYC for eight years. I’ll be heading back to the US in a couple of weeks where I’ll be based in Los Angeles to work on a new series of projects.
How would you describe your work?
My work is a cross between art/illustration and textiles, it mainly focuses on nature and my everyday surroundings. In the past I have designed artwork for books, wallpaper, stationery, packaging, textiles and advertising. I also teach online classes through Skillshare and do a small selection of live workshops throughout the year.
What inspired your business, and how did how Boccaccini Meadows come to be?
It happened in the most organic way possible. After studying textiles and surface pattern design I was a freelance textile designer for years, and in my spare time I would paint for myself. I began documenting my personal paintings on social media and it sort of grew from there. Instagram, Tumblr & Facebook have been a great way to share my portfolio with the world. I’ve got such a wonderful online community and I’m very grateful for the support!
How did your career begin?
In freelancing for art studios, I was involved in creating original patterns for fashion houses such as Zara, Urban Outfitters and DKNY. I really enjoyed the process but eventually wanted to keep the rights to my own work. It’s amazing to see your paintings on clothing and textiles but at some point, it’s nice to be recognised as the artist, especially when you work so hard at something you love.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
Most of my ideas come from being outside and around nature. If I find myself in a rut I tend to go for a walk or bike ride, it clears my head and often brings new ideas. Sometimes I’ll bring a sketchbook to make notes and sketches along the way. My sketchbook is such an important part of my process and I really think it helps push my creativity. I would recommend anyone to get one for a trip to document things that inspire you. Don’t worry about the imperfections – this for me is what makes art so interesting.
What is your working practice?
My work and space changes depending on where I’m located. I always travel with sketchbooks, brushes, watercolour and gouache. My process starts with sketches and notes then develops into larger paintings or pattern work.
How would you describe your style?
A lot of my work focuses on nature and the great outdoors. My colour palette is sophisticated and feminine which helps contrast a playful and illustrative style.
Are there themes you are drawn to in your work?
I love plants and botanicals and nature influences my work in many ways. I’m certainly drawn to natural and organic forms.
What career would you pursue, if you weren’t a print designer and illustrator?
I think I’d be a gardener or walking guide – something that allows me to be outdoors for long periods.
What does your working day look like?
I always start the day with a fresh fruit/veg smoothie with lots of nuts and seeds for protein, followed by a cup of green tea. I’m not super-healthy but I find this little routine puts me on the right track to power through the day. I started going for a bike ride for an hour or two before starting work during lockdown. Then I usually get the admin out the way in the first couple of hours so I can fully focus on the creative side of my work. I might go for a walk or to the post office in the afternoon before cooking dinner.
What’s been the biggest eye-opener in running your business?
Running a business takes a lot of multi-tasking! This is something I’ve had to get really good at – especially as I have a six-year-old to manage, too.
What do you find are the pros and cons of working as an independent?
I love being on my own schedule and having so many exciting projects. It can be a challenge to manage everything and sometimes I wish I had a few employees.
How do you utilise marketing and PR?
I’d say my approach to marketing and PR is quite organic. I’m a one-woman business/artist, so my main focus is the creative work and everything else comes second. I use social media on a regular basis to promote new collections and highlight my process.
What have been your business highlights so far?
I’ve loved all the artists residency programs I’ve participated in. Especially one in Hawaii where I worked on Oahu for a week with the tourist board. I spent the week meeting local artists, hiking eco trails and exploring the landscape via a helicopter – it really was magical. I’ll always treasure the work I created there.
Outside of work, do you have any pastimes or hobbies?
I love hiking and cycling. I was brought up in the Peak District in England and spent many days going on bike rides and climbing big hills with my family. I think my hobbies tend to feature in my illustrations more and more.
What is the most important lesson that running your business has taught you about life?
I couldn’t imagine not being on my own schedule or having to work in an office again. Running my own business has allowed me the freedom to do what I love and spend more time with my family and friends, for me that is the most important part of life.
Books I love:
There’s so many but a few I’ve read recently: 1984 – George Orwell, Touching the Void – Joe Simpson, Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker, The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
Georgia O’Keeffe, David Hockney, Frida Kahlo
Shops I love:
I love charity shops and old book stores. My favourite is Barter Books in the Victorian railway station, Alnwick, Northumberland.
the Peak District, UK, the Lake District, UK, Joshua Tree, US, Yosemite National Park, US