It’s exciting to have the opportunity to chat with someone who has experienced the same city as you, met some of the same people. Here we talk with young visual artist Sarah Blais, (working across a variety of mediums such as photography, illustration, video and graphic design), formally from Toronto, Canada, about her most memorable moments in her career thus far and her strong desire to travel and explore as she creates new work.
“I’m twenty-four-years old, born in a valley somewhere in British Columbia. Spent most of my younger years moving around Canada and day dreaming – playing in forests with my sister and creating elaborate stories that were a mix of Oliver twist, Baron Munchausen, the Little Mermaid, among others. I was a mermaid princess – so that was fun.”
Please tell us about yourself as both a person and a visual artist. I crave the feeling that you can get on a cold day, when you slip into a hot bath. Being lost in the familiarity of a strangers eyes, the first kiss, the last goodbye, the velvet sky on a summer’s night, snowboarding on a mountain under the moon, your favourite song with your favourite people in the middle of the night, bike rides and sugar beaches. I’ve always liked slipping in and out of that intensity. Discovering new ways of drenching myself in a combination I have yet to taste. I think as a visual artist… I like to trigger that aesthetic experience in my work.
You just moved from Toronto, Canada to London, UK. Tell us a bit about your transition and what triggered your relocation to a new and far away city. Since I was 12, I’ve wanted to live in another city . We moved a lot as a family, so picking up and starting new is part of how I grew. Toronto has been surprising me year after year with beautiful people, experiences, and opportunities, but I just wanted to jump off a cliff again – find my footing in another city. London has always seemed exciting- it’s right beside Europe, and has so much history. Also, the people I’m already getting to work with share a lot of the same passion I do for creating art, editorials…anything. It’s nice to be around that hungry energy again, so many unknowns. And there are artists here I’ve been following for years, so the possibility of learning from them, and even just feeling the city like they do – that excites me about London.
Walk us through a typical fashion shoot or test. What do you do to prepare yourself for your day shooting? It varies really. Usually find out who I am shooting – then take inspiration from what they look like. Recently I met a model in the east end and we walked into a thrift shop together and found a couple cool outfits that she and I both liked. Got into fun characters and took some shots around the area. For bigger shoots I put together images I love and have been collecting, turn them into moods I’m feeling – and do my best to produce something that is an amalgamation of these inspirations, carries a story.
You’ve done a lot of work for Toronto Fashion week and have worked closely with Toronto label Beaufille (formally known as Chloe Comme Parris). Tell us a bit about this experience and your design work for their newly re-branded logo, business cards, hang tags etc. That has been such an incredible experience. I’d found myself at a dinner with Randi Bergman from Fashion Magazine, when the topic of fashion film came up. She knew I had been shooting editorials in Toronto, and video, so she asked if I wanted to collaborate with an up-and-coming designer and make something for a project she had. I jumped on the opportunity and asked instantly if I could work with Chloe comme Parris (now Beaufille). We ended up doing a fashion video together, and got along really well. Since then I’ve done things here and there for them, leading to this bigger re-branding project. The relationship is pretty natural between us, the girls and I are on the same page with a good balance of experimentation and finesse. I really respect them as artists, so working with them has been a pleasure.
Is there an underlying theme or message that you carry throughout your work? What do you want viewers to take from it? I’m not sure there is one message. I know there are similarities throughout – but it all kind of fits into different parts of who I am, or what I want to create. I hope viewers just take whatever they feel from it -whatever it makes them feel. I wouldn’t want to interfere with that. I think It’s best to let people discover things on their own.
The song you have on repeat at the moment? Usually I’m on soundcloud playing my stream browsing for songs that spark a fire inside… you know those ones. I’ve been obsessed with this track one of my best friends (Kiki) sent me, Maverick Sabre – I Need (Luis Leon Blue Sky Edit), and any Sascha Braemer mixes. Another friend took me to see Marika Hackman the other night in London. She’s insane live. Go see her. Some of her songs have been frequenting my playlist since then.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? Where would you ideally be living and what would you be working on? I’ve kind of been working on a bigger project over the past few years, that I hope to see through over the next chapter. Ideally be living around amazing friends that I can have fun with, in an international city like London or New York. Definitely still doing creative direction, but on a larger scale…