Creative Series: Sarah Hennessey

I've discovered Sarah Hennessey's work through her etsy shop sometimesiswirl. Hennessey is a midwestern girl who loves to doodle. Her etsy shop is filled with these awesome pen drawings, and Creative Moxie was lucky enough to steal some of her time away to get a Q&A.

Creative Moxie: How did you discover your illustration style?
Sarah Hennessey: Through lots and lots and LOTS of doodling and paying attention to what excites me. That may sound strange - so perhaps it can be better said this way: for example, in school, I've always doodled in the margins of notebooks, and I would allow myself to start on something and keep going with it. If I added a swirl and that looked appropriate, I would feel a sense of excitement or energy that would compel me to keep going with the drawing. By following that feeling, I discovered a style that allows me to still experience that spark of excitement when I draw now. 
Also, I have a lot of books with pages and pages of drawings or designs (ie, I have books with henna designs, books with drawings solely of flower motifs, etc), so I'm constantly looking for new things to influence my style.

CM: Whats your favorite medium to work with?
SH: Definitely archival ink pens. I have so much more control with a pen and can get very detailed, plus there is a permanence to using archival ink. I've experimented with lots of other mediums (acrylic paint, water-based oil paints, India ink, charcoal, oil pastels, chalk, graphite... you name it.) but ink is the one that has stuck. I especially love Prismacolor ink pens!

CM: What gets you motivated to make art and sell it?
SH: To make art, it doesn't take much to feel inspired. My favorite thing to do is sit at my desk with a cup of coffee, the itunes pulled up on my laptop (music is almost always involved in creative projects for me), and I just get started. There have been very few times where I've worked from a pencil sketch or traced something. 

CM: You studied German and art history in college, how do you think that has influenced your own art?
SH: I wish I could say the German part still inspires me, but that, unfortunately, is not so much the case. Art history, however, is always with me. The first drawing to truly catch my interest in art was Paul Klee's "The Twittering Machine," which I discovered in my high school art history class at age 16. The line drawing/graphic and surreal nature of the piece just resonated with me. Then I checked into the surrealist movement and was hooked. In college, I ended up writing my senior thesis on early surrealist drawings [take, for instance, Andre Breton's early automatic drawings and paintings, and I think elements of surrealism still impact the way I draw. 
CM: When you aren't drawing you are...?
SH: Probably doing one of the following three things:
1) Reading. (I'm obsessed with memoirs, any stories about childhood, or anything relating to criminal psychology).
2) Doing a project around the house such as painting a room a new color, refurbishing a piece of furniture, sewing pillow slipcovers, etc.
3) Watching re-runs of a show while hanging out with my two lap-cats. My husband and I don't have television, so we love to pop DVDs into the computer or pull up older shows on the internet and watch that way. 

CM: How do you promote your work?
SH: I honestly haven't done much promoting. I got extremely lucky last October when popular blogger Heather Armstrong bought some of my prints and then featured one of my drawings, that gave tremendous unexpected exposure to my etsy site. On my personal blog, I occasionally mention my etsy shop, and I do have the etsy widget in the side bar... and I've done a few blog giveaways, but other than that, I mostly rely on the power of renewing my items on etsy. I do have a facebook page, and have been experimenting with using Flickr as a networking and promotional site, too.
CM: Any advice to new artists?
SH: I can say something about artists specifically looking to sell on etsy: it takes a lot of work to set up a shop (including major research - just google around and find tips from experienced etsy sellers and comb through the etsy forums!).... it takes time to get that first sale (normally).... and there will be lulls where you'll feel like no one is interested in what you do. However, there IS an audience for you out there, somewhere. You just have to find it. For example, find a blogger with similar tastes as yours and ask that person to do a giveaway of your work... or apply for an art/craft fair to get your work out there. Just don't give up because all it takes is your foot in the right door. Oh, also, make customer service a priority. Anyone who buys your art? Make them feel special and keep in touch with them. They might end up being a big referral source! 

CM: Anything else you would like to add?
SH: Yes. I don't think I would have be as successful with my artwork had it not been for lots of red wine... carbohydrates.... Radiohead... and the ability to order supplies online. :) 

Find out more about Sarah:

Check out past Creative Series:
+Danielle Gundry-Monji
+Laura Di Francesco
+Ryan R Thompson
+Delia Jalomo
+Cory Graves
+Anthony Williams