Nature is often at the heart of the work of illustrator Sara Thielker
Bursting with texture, and often referencing the sumptuousness of nature, the work of illustrator Sara Thielker is a real gem to discover and explore.
I was born in my Grandmother’s cosy Victorian terrace in Jericho, Oxford. I was raised in a very creative, free-thinking household that nurtured and cherished the artist in me. My entire family was massively important in inspiring my love for art from an early age.
An art foundation, a degree in illustration from UWE (Bristol), and over five years in a lovely design studio in Bath have helped guide me to where I am today. Today I live with my husband and daughter, in Chippenham, where I work as a freelance illustrator. Chippenham itself doesn’t have that much of creative buzz, compared to Bristol or Oxford, but living on the edge of the countryside and getting out into the fields is one of my favourite things to do; where I can roam think through the various projects I’m working on and illustration ideas.
Over the past few years I’ve found a more honest and confident way of working, keeping my personal projects going alongside professional ones has helped get me there. Even if it is just doodling while watching movies, it keeps the free creative thought flowing and encourages me to push away from more obvious ideas.
When I’m not working I’m usually enjoying my time with my daughter, and on the weekends its time for the whole family to get together. When I can I enjoy catching up with friends, or writing poetry (an important creative outlet for me), but I always find my sanctuary lies outside among nature with the sky above me. Cooking and eating plenty of really good (vegan) food is a comfort I’m always grateful for. It’s safe to say I’m a bit of a grazer and usually (always) have a snack to hand, whether it be out and about or working at my desk.
I admire the Kickstarter project Dog Years by Kaye Blegvad’s. Beautifully presented and illustrated, the book aims to help it’s readers who live with depression, help them feel not so alone and to perhaps give them the courage to confront it and open up to others. It is always inspiring to see such meaningful and honest illustration, and is something that I strive towards.
The thought of a project with an unlimited budget – and all the time in the world – is almost too overwhelming to imagine. To be able to illustrate and write books is one of my dreams. I would like to portray the importance of the ocean, and of our planet in beautifully illustrated children’s stories and reference books, where the profits could go to charities working for these important causes.
My studio at present is a happy corner of my living room. As a mother it’s important not only for me to be close to my daughter, but for her to see me working and creating. She’s my little muse and seeing her face keeps me going when the deadlines pile up, no matter how cliche that sounds. I collect little bits and bobs such as feathers, leaves and pebbles and love having these little pieces of nature and our houseplants around me as I work.
My most read and treasured books are, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (it’s beautifully written, satisfying my need for other worldly literature); The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (one from my childhood that I hold dear to my heart); and Just Kids by Patti Smith (Her way of thinking is so refreshing and her writing so visual). It’s challenging to choose so few when I have so many that I love! I have to mention my Reader’s Digest book of British Birds; an invaluable source and incredibly nostalgic book being one my Gran chose to paint from.
When sitting down to work I have to use a mechanical pencil for ideas and sketching, and a selection of black fine liner pens for final illustrations. There is an incredibly satisfying beauty to a precise crisp black line on blank matte white paper. I always have a sketchbook with pages that tear out easily because I prefer to sketch on a loose sheet; then I can slip it back into the book. My scanner, laptop and tablet are essential tools for me also because the majority of my work is completed digitally.
Currently I’m working on magazine editorials, a wall calendar of European cities, a Yoga company logo; I’ll soon also be illustrating an anthology of poetry. I’ve also an ongoing project illustrating over thirty British town’s. They’ll be printed on tea towels, and a selection of prints that can be purchased in my Etsy shop SaraThielkerPrints.