FROM THE PIN PALS TO HER OWN SOLO PROJECTS, THIS ILLUSTRATOR MAKES HER MARK
Story by Odessa Paloma Parker
Sara Guindon’s work may look familiar; the unique personalities she depicts in her illustrations are half of the charm of Pin Pals – the remarkable, retro-esque accessories and art objects found at craft events and shops around the city. You may have also seen her art in the pages of Worn Fashion Journal, and on various prints and posters for events. Now based in Denver, Colorado, Guindon has been working away at her solo projects (for sale on Etsy), and she took a few moments to speak about her inspirations and various collections of work.
Can you tell me a bit about how you started with illustration?
I drew a lot when I was little, my mom really encouraged it. I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something in the visual arts. When I was in my mid-twenties, and frustrated at being bad at jobs I didn’t like, I started selling handmade pins. I eventually hooked up with Samantha [Purdy] and we started selling our creations together as the Pin Pals. With a little grant help our little business grew, and I had more opportunity to focus on drawing.
Are you a formally trained artist?
I went to art school but I don’t feel like I was formally trained in terms of design or learning how to draw figuratively. At the time, I didn’t know what I wanted to accomplish with art school. Thinking back, I could have done a lot more with my time.
What are the inspirations behind your work?
Lately, I’m really inspired by movies, old television sitcoms and photography. In real life, I pay attention to my surroundings and often reference stores, restaurants and bars that I’ve frequented in my work. Objects inspire me too, like things I find at the thrift store. People I know seem to turn up in my work unintentionally as well.
How did you make the move from illustration to creating 3-d objects (i.e. your Pin Heads – a collection of pin cushions)?
I used to make a lot of crafty doodads before I took illustration more seriously. I made felt animal pins and people to sell – it was a way for me to ease into something more substantial. Lately, I’ve been so into drawing that I’m missing sewing a little. I made my pinheads to satisfy a craving for craft.
Where did you get the idea for Paper Puppets?
A few years ago when I was finding myself as an illustrator, I used to draw people in pieces so I could pose them first and glue them on paper. I found that cut-and-paste method a forgiving way to create a composition. My first paper puppets were black pen on manila paper and I made little bows to attach their limbs. They were all really sinister looking; one was a clown with flower eyes and a wicked smile, the other was wearing a fur suit and hat with toothy grin (they all had lots of tiny teeth), and another had curtains for hair. I decided to sell some printed ones at a zine fair in Montréal; they were a hit, and I kept making them.
Your work has a very retro sensibility – how do you feel it fits in with contemporary art?
I’m not sure how it fits in. I know there are lots of contemporary artists whose work I can relate to, and lots of artists are drawn to the familiarity of the past, so I’m sure I fit in, in one way or another.
What kind of feedback do you get from the people who buy your work?
It’s pretty positive usually. People find the puppets silly, and sometimes creepy. Often there is something in the drawings that remind them of someone they know, or they have someone in mind who would relate to it. Lots of people like cats, and I like cats too, but I think I might need to impose a cat ban.
You’ve done some freelance work, creating illustrations for labels like Supayana and magazines like Worn. How do these collaborations come about?
Those collaborations usually come really naturally from meeting like-minded people in the creative community. I love working with and being around hardworking, talented and smart, creative ladies like Yana [of Supayana] and Serah-Marie [of Worn], it’s inspiring and motivating. Oftentimes, someone might see my work on the internet and approach me to do some freelance; it’s always fun to get a project that way too.
Are there any other designers/musicians/etc. you’d like to work with?
That’s a hard question. There are so many artists and musicians that I admire and would love to work with. I’ve been really focused on working solo for the moment that I wouldn’t know where to start.
How is creating these freelance illustrations different than your other work?
I like doing freelance because it’s always a challenge to do what someone else wants. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely more fun not having to answer to anyone, but having an assignment from a client pulls you from your comfort zone. That’s when you come up with some real gems.
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on a few things. I have a series of drawings that I’m working on for a solo show in the Fall, and some group shows coming up soon. I’m also working on some secret projects that I hope to reveal in the near future.