INTERVIEW: Sarah Jane Bradley
Michelle Zhu | On 27, Nov 2015
Being an artist is no walk in the park, and establishing oneself in an emerging industry can provide challenges in everyday life. Sarah Jane Bradley, who has been a practicing artist for nearly a decade now, is an artist who is familiar with all the obstacles it takes to making art and making a living at the same time.
However, speaking to her provided me an insight on how to conquer those challenges, and revealed a spirit within her that refuses to be tarnished and is instead fuelled by passion and persistence. She was honest and open about the struggles that she has faced, and spoke about her artistic and personal journey through an optimistic lens, knowing that there was still so much more to come that she was ready to embrace.
Bradleyâ€™s first few years in the industry proved difficult, as she found herself at the face of emotional blockages, which consequentially created boundaries within her art and creativity.
â€œThere was a fair few years that were absolutely challenging. All these emotional blockages began to build up and I hadnâ€™t really confronted them. SO I did this series that I call the Anya series and they were really dark, and there were about 17-20 of them going through traumatic experiences with bleeding eyes which is so far from what I do now.â€
Her relationship with art blossomed as she created the series, and began the course of her deep love for making and sharing her unique and stylised works.
â€œI got rid of that blockage, and it opened me up in ways where art is so much more than just doodling.â€
Art can commonly be perceived to function as merely entertainment or decoration, but the connection between artist and spectator is far more complex than looking at a pretty picture on a wall. Different experiences invigorate different art, and Bradleyâ€™s travels ignited her love for representing woodland creatures as consistent motifs and subject matters in her paintings.
â€œI went to Canada and it was incredibly inspiring, and I went to Whistler Mountain and it was snowing and was the idea of a fairytale. It was dark and mysterious and so dense and beautiful and so I got into drawing woodland creatures like wolves and bears.â€
â€œFor a while I felt creatively numb, but the last few months Iâ€™ve gotten over a mountain and am exploring a new land and I see things differently and I think differently.â€
When dealing with artist block, Bradley has her own methods in dealing with a lack of inspiration.
â€œI explore all kinds of artistic mediums. Sometimes I have issues with consistency, and want to explore so many different things. Iâ€™ve painted on rocks and Iâ€™ve started painting on wood blocks, and thereâ€™s so many different textures. Pushing medium boundaries like gouache, acrylic and watercolour, graphite work, itâ€™s all really important.â€
Bradley is also currently working on a collaborative mural that is displayed at the Petrie Terrace State School, and is working on it multiple days a week, painting sprawling imagery of aquatic life that will be a joy to the community and art lovers alike.
â€œSo I used to work at a cafÃ© and there was an artist from Minnesota who did a lot of stencil art, and we got to know each otherâ€™s art. There was a lot of respect there, and we decided to do a collaboration. So we decided to do the mural together.â€
â€œItâ€™s given me a great opportunity to explore sea life, and theyâ€™re very open-minded about our creative freedom, and I detail the stencilled work, or I digitally design them and then he creates a stencil. Our styles are quite different, but we always seem to be complementing each other.â€
The project seems to be fulfilling and fills Bradley to the brim with excitement. She spoke about moments throughout her day that have stuck with her throughout the progression of the mural,
â€œItâ€™s a big project and itâ€™s so fun. One of the best days of my life it was raining and there was paint all over me, and I was listening to Van Morrison and I was painting these beautiful patterns and I was so present and so happy. It was one of those rare moments where I felt â€˜this just feels rightâ€™.â€
â€œThe community side of it is amazing as well, people would just come up to me and thank me. Itâ€™s not often you can have a positive effect on people, like children and passersby, and I havenâ€™t spoken to this part of the world before. If you can engage and inspire someone, I think thatâ€™s the biggest gift you could ever have.â€
Being an artist in general can be difficult, and when asked about Brisbane, she expressed an admiration for Brisbaneâ€™s rising appreciation for the creative world and the increase of opportunities for herself and others.
â€œBrisbane is finding itself, and I feel like itâ€™s really good that weâ€™re moving toward our own thing. There are so many opportunities and so many local artists out there, and I really like initiatives like RAW! Artist Showcases where Iâ€™ve done a couple of exhibitions.â€
When asked about her plans of the future, Bradley was matter-of-factual and remained her honest self, understanding that challenges are inevitable for an artist, but having dreams and attaining them are far more rewarding than succumbing to pressure.
â€œIâ€™ll probably not make a 100% living out of art, and at this point Iâ€™m okay with that. A few companies like La La Land have published my work, and Iâ€™ve collaborated with them, which was amazing. I would love to do a colouring book one day with mostly animals.â€
Bradley seemed giddy with love and excitement for what she did, and showed that a generous degree of passion can allow anything dream to be within reach. She spoke about her own personal motivations behind creating and sharing art with a poignant thoughtfulness that stuck with me, as I realised that she made art for others as much as she does herself.
â€œTo watch people get inspired is really exciting. Iâ€™m really motivated and I love fitness, and I love to develop energy within people. Thereâ€™s nothing more beautiful than feeling at peace, and we go through so much adversity on a daily basis and art can really help with overcoming it.â€
Her energy was contagious, and her workspace reflected how she enjoys being constantly surrounded by things that inspire her, just so she can return the favour and inspire those around her.
Check out Sarah Jane Bradley’s work here on her Facebook page.
Image Credits: Sarah Jane Bradley’s Facebook page.