Artist Spotlight: Sarah Matthews

In this month’s Spotlight interview we talk to designer Sarah ‘Berny’ Matthews about her creative style, inspirations and painting giant Gromit’s!

1. How did start out in the industry and what is your role at Aardman?

This is actually my first job working in the creative industry, which seems a bit crazy! I was lucky enough to get a few weeks work experience here at Aardman, in a couple of different departments, whilst I was studying Graphic Design at the University of Portsmouth. Through this, I found the small and relatively new Digital team, and fell in love. We kept in contact and I managed to get some freelance work with them after I graduated, which eventually lead to my full-time role as designer in the (newly named) Interactive Department.

2. To date, what has been your biggest professional achievement?

Working on the Gromit Unleashed and Shaun in the City trails, will always be a highlight for me! Surprisingly, I’d not painted a 6-foot dog and sheep before, so it was a really fun and different experience…and the fact it was all for The Grand Appeal charity, made it even better!

3. Name three people who inspire you:

Caitlin Moran…absolute bad-ass author, she makes you realise you’re not the only one.

Dave Grohl…nicest dude in rock.

My friends (I know that’s cheating, but I can’t pick just one!)…they’re a pretty inspiring bunch of creative over-achievers.

4. What best describes your illustration style?

Black pen, wobbly lines, little details & happy accidents.

5. What do you like most about working at Aardman?

The people. I’ve not met a lovelier, more talented group of people in my life! They made me feel welcome from the moment I got here, and have taught, encouraged and inspired me ever since.

6. What new technologies do you feel have had the most impact on the way you create?

In my design work, I use Photoshop and Illustrator everyday, so they are absolutely key, but working in the Interactive department we are constantly adjusting to the latest devices and technologies that come out. At the moment, I’m mainly designing games and apps for phones and tablets, making sure layouts are responsive to these new and ever-changing sizes, which is quite a different approach to designing for traditional desktop. Also with VR becoming more popular, we’re developing our 3D skills, learning new programs and skills to keep up with the tech.

7. What’s your desk like – messy or tidy?

A cheerful, colourful, chaos…lots of pens, sketchbooks, coffee and a top hat…it’s busy, how I like it.

8. What are your goals for the year ahead?

I’m going to be working on Gromit Unleashed 2 again this year, so I’m really looking forward to doing some large-scale painting. I’d also like to spend more time on my personal illustration work, focussing on things I love, like music, and maybe trying out some different materials and techniques.

9. How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I think I have a pretty happy-medium…it can sometimes be a struggle when personal work takes up evenings and weekends, but that’s never really a chore, as I enjoy creating. My family and friends, and quite often the pub, come first though.

10. What has been your all-time favourite or even weirdest project that you’ve been involved with?

The Tate Movie Project was my first big design job at Aardman, and still one of my favourites. It was so unique in the way it all started with a child’s drawing or sound effect, and ended up being a full-blown movie! It was a huge collaboration, joining industry professionals with the audience, giving everyone involved a creative role, which was really exciting (especially when it won a Bafta 😉 )

11. What’s your best advice for artists today?

I’m going to rip-off Anthony Burrill now, but work hard and be nice to people. It sounds obvious, but if you put the time in and are happy with the work you’re producing, that’s the biggest battle.

12. Who is your favourite Aardman character and why?

Gromit…I’m all about the eye-rolls!

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