Q&A: Sarah Firth

Q&A: Sarah Firth

We are positively stoked that Sarah Firth will be graphically recording at the Melbourne launch party for Hot Chicks with Big Brains Issue 3 on Wednesday 14th June!

Emma got in touch with Sarah ahead of the night to find out a little more about Sarah and her work, but if you’re as curious about how visual storytelling unfolds as us, you’ll just have to come along and see for yourself!

Certain you wouldn’t miss it for the world? You can preorder your special edition or regular copy of Issue #3 for pickup at the party – just use the code “partypickupmelb” at checkout to avoid a $5 postage fee!

Emma Kate Lewis: Can you tell me a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Sarah Firth: I’m an award winning artist, animator, and writer who likes to draw words and write pictures. For the past seven years I’ve worked as a creative entrepreneur offering graphic recording, visual communication, animation, and creative workshops across industries. Right now, I’m working on my debut graphic novel – a humorous and idiosyncratic exploration of personal narratives woven together with philosophy, psychology, science, and theory.

EKL: What motivates you as an artist?

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SF: Making art is my way of processing, digesting and understanding the world. It’s fundamental to who I am. I draw and write every day. Thinking on the page. Art and writing is always a conversation, and I love how sharing our experiences, ideas, and feelings as artists and writers creates ripples, feedback, communion, and deeper understanding and empathy.

EKL: How did you first get into graphic recording?

SF: Back in 2010 I was in a horrible rut with a failing business, barely scraping enough money together for rent and subsequently eating out of dumpsters. Then I was asked if I would ever consider taking live visual notes at business strategy workshops.

I jumped right in the deep end with no idea what I was doing – and it was terrifying. But over time as I worked hard, failed, got feedback, found community, learned, and improved, I finally found my groove. I’ve learned to trust myself and go with the flow.

That said, even though it’s been seven years, each time I graphically record at an event, I still feel a nervous excitement and the rush of adrenaline – just as any athlete, dancer or performer does – because each job requires laser focus and is different and emergent and you never know what will happen.

EKL: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career to date, and how did you overcome it?

SF: As most artists find, a creative career is a wild beast with stops and starts, surprises, knock backs, and successes. It’s founded on hard work, long hours, constant growth and striving, persistence, but also luck. Having a dual career as an artist and a creative entrepreneur has major ups and downs. It can be complex, and it’s always a work in progress.

Over the years, to manage the inevitable peaks and troughs, I’ve done a lot of self-reflection to redefine what success means for me and to create my own personal compass based on my principles, values, and aims.

This helps keep me anchored and make better decisions. I talk more about this in Starving Artist Ep. 7 with Honor Eastly.

EKL: Can you tell me about a particular moment in your career that gave you a great sense of achievement?

SF: I have so many moments in the past few years that I’m very proud of! Big things that come to mind are: being recognized by Art & Australia Magazine as one of the top 25 artists under 25. Being commissioned by Experimenta Media Art. Receiving the Immigration Museum Talking Difference Fellowship. Winning the Australian Films People’s Choice Award for my animated documentary at the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival. Animating for TripTank on Comedy Central. Being invited to the Comic Art Workshop Residency to workshop my graphic novel with some of the best long form comic makers in the world. Receiving a travel grant to showcase my comic work at LICAF in the UK this year.

EKL: What are you most looking forward to on launch night?

SF: Creating a visual story with the HCwBB team about how the representation of women in writing has significantly improved since the Stella Prize started.

RSVP to our Melbourne Launch Party HERE


Answers and Images by Sarah Firth

Questions and Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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