Sarah Lesher is a local artist in my area of Northern California. Working primarily with painting, printmaking, and design - but also known to experiment with textiles and surface design, sculpture, installation, and interior design. I love the way she uses soft feminine colors in contrast with strong geometric lines. I cannot imagine anything more perfectly feminine than that particular juxtaposition.
I wanted to know more about Sarah, her inspiration, and her design process. More below!
Were you always hands on when you were younger? What clues did you have about your natural tendencies that led you do be a Creative?
I was super hands on as a kid. I loved drawing, painting, and dancing ballet. I was home schooled until sixth grade, so I spent a lot of time making art and doing creative things with my mom.
When did you decide to start your own business? And why this business?
I started a business about four years ago, a collaborative design studio called Metropolis/Wilderness. We did logo and package design and produced a small collection of tea towels and prints. One of our last projects was the complete design of a juice bar, and I had the opportunity to collaborate with a team of artists on the interior. After completing the project, I was drawn to explore more interior design, and was also ready to focus more on painting. Metropolis/Wilderness closed about six months ago, and after a few months of down time and planning, I opened my own business. I wanted to start my own design studio because at the moment it feels important to develop my own aesthetic, and explore how my painting and design work can inform and reflect one another.
What was the best piece of advice you were given as you were starting out?
Some of the best advice one of my mentors gave me are to own your talents and don’t work for free. These are both things I have had to work hard at, and its still a process. It can be difficult to be confident in your work when you are just starting out, and its always fun to help your friends out when they are doing exciting projects.
What do you do behind the scenes?
Lots of different things, no two days are the same. I spend a lot of time finding and making imagery for projects, and have been photographing some industrial sites and buildings around Eureka, California for the past few years. Some days I spend all day working at my computer, other days I am in the studio making prints or paintings. I recently started some experiments with reclaimed wood, concrete, plants, and copper tubing for a new collection of handmade objects for the home. For the past year I have been designing a small live/work studio in the Buhne Building, a gorgeous historic Italianate in downtown Eureka. I’m constantly changing things around and trying out different paint colors. I supplement my income by gardening and working on a few farms, which I love because I really enjoy being around plants. I am also a firm believer in self-care, so I spend a good amount of time cooking really good food, going for walks with my dog, doing yoga, and relaxing.
Currently, I am working on some fun package design projects and a few things for the interior of the Minor Theater in Arcata. I just got back from Portland, Oregon, where I installed some screen printed paper in the windows of Shipwreck! Portland, scheduled to open this May. I’m also making new paintings for upcoming shows at Shipwreck! Portland this summer, and Stripe (in Santa Cruz, CA) in December.
What is your inspiration for your work?
Most of my inspiration for painting comes from modern architecture and industrial landscapes. Recently I have been particularly interested in modern architecture in Mexico, brutalist buildings, and concrete interiors. In terms of design, I am really drawn to clean, modern, and simple aesthetics.
What is your goal during each project?
My current goal when I am making paintings and prints is to aim for something that feels calm and expansive, while using images and forms from architecture and industrial landscapes. A lot of my work is about a subconscious dialogue between the human body and architectural space. I believe that being in the presence of really great architecture and interior space can inspire us profoundly, revealing to us the most ideal versions of ourselves. I am always trying to communicate these somewhat abstract ideas in my work. I use a lot of pastels and soft flat color because they make me happy, and compliment the geometric images of architecture.
When working on design projects, my goal is to create something that really expresses the personality of a product or company, while keeping the aesthetic as simple as possible.
What are a few things people don’t know about you?
I lived in Mexico for three and a half years, was born and raised in Humboldt County, California, I put butter on almost everything, and I can’t stand glossy wall paint.