Surtex Preview: Sarah English
Sarah English is an example of someone who has known what she wanted from an early age on! Her entire background is in art.
Sarah shared: “My mom will tell you that when I was three, I use to run around the house screaming, ‘I’m going to be an artist!’ I guess if you scream it loud enough – and for long enough – you can make it happen.” Since then, Sarah has received an MFA in Painting from the University of North Texas, taught college for a few years, and started doing Textile Design on the side. Now she is a full-time Textile Designer in corporate fashion retail.
When asked about her transition to full-time textile design, Sarah said: “I moved from curating gallery shows to curating print collections! I moved up the ladder and was managing a team that focused on Textile Design for Juniors fashion. I really enjoyed my work, my team, and continuously learning so much about the industry. Still, the artist in me was still starving for my own original work and that’s why I started Pattern State on the side as an outlet for doing more creative work at night. Then in 2017, I left my ten-year retail career to dive into Pattern State full time.” How many of us dream of doing just what Sarah did? Since that time, she has learned a lot, adding “to say I never looked back wouldn’t be totally honest. It’s been a year full of challenges and mistakes and I’ve second-guessed myself along the way. Still, I wouldn’t change my decision! I’ve had the ability to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, the flexibility to chose my work, and the openness to stretch myself creatively.
“It’s important to me that Pattern State prints feel that they came from an artist’s hand. I love to draw and paint on paper but these days I need to work smarter, which means I’m often drawing on my iPad. The work I shared has that illustrative quality. The wallpaper design was inspired by my idea of a Texas botanical print…bluebonnets, lantana, daffodils, and thistles. I like to throw in some fun where I can. That’s when you’ll find the rabbits, fox, and squirrels included from the Texas fields. I also like thinking about what makes us wonder and reminds us that magic is possible—which is why you’ll find elements like unicorns and UFOs in my work, mingling alongside Bigfoot and a Jackalope. I also included some studio shots and images of some of the prints in product form.”
With all of Sarah’s experience, I asked her to share about an experience that stands out that challenged her and help her grow as a designer. She shared this moment with me: “I remember the first time I saw a repeating pattern. I got a job at a small manufacturer that was looking for people who could draw and knew Photoshop. My first boss showed me a repeating pattern during the interview. My mind exploded on the spot, seeing how exciting the surface design world was. I love that the possibilities for what your art can be are so open and ever changing. A print has the power to transform any object. For me, it’s art in repeat and total magic.”
This year Sarah is going to be at SURTEX with representation from Nerida Hansen. This is an exciting opportunity, as Nerida has assembled an amazing group of artists she calls the Surtex Super Group. Sara adds, “In my mind I feel like we’re all super hero designers and should be wearing patterned capes. And that makes me feel pretty cool!”