03 | In the Process with Sally Nixon

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Today, I'm almost giddy because I get to share an interview I did with Little Rock local artist, Sally Nixon. I have followed her work for a while now, and am always impressed with her drive to create consistently as well as portray women in a beautiful, yet real, light. Nixon has been feature on The Creators Project, Bustle, Its Nice ThatCosmopolitan, and The Huffington Post. This interview is a part of H&H's "In the Process" series (look at previous posts with Helen Hung and Laura Supnik), where I am interviewing various creatives from all walks of life, locations, and artistic work. Nixon's work inspires me everyday -- and often to the point of not just looking at her detailed illustrations, but testing the water with my own creations. As you read the following interview, I hope you enjoy her work and artistic outlook as much as I do!
H&H: How did you get where you are today? 

SN: I grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the youngest of five girls. I’ve always been interested in art and telling stories through images. In 2013, I graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a BFA degree in studio art with an emphasis in illustration. Since then, I’ve been doing freelance illustration for a number of magazines and businesses.

H&H: How would you describe your work in three words?

SN: Detailed, colorful, feminine

H&H: Where do you find inspiration for your art? How do you continually look to that inspiration in your profession despite deadlines and the occasional creative-block?

SN: I find inspiration everywhere. That sounds really cliche, but it’s true. I’ll be watching TV and see an object or a pattern I like and design an illustration inspired by it or make a note to include it in the next project I have. When I have creative blocks, it’s usually because I’m not that interested in whatever I’m drawing, which can happen with certain freelance jobs. So I’ll look at my Pinterest boards or my sketchbook where I keep notes and photos of things that inspire me and I’ll try to find a way to include some of those things in the project at hand. 

H&H: Many creative people (myself included) struggle with the idea of originality and creating something new in a world when everything has been done already. Do you struggle with this? What are your thoughts on getting past this inner conflict?

SN: I used to worry about that a lot, but I finally just accepted the fact that everything has been done and there is no such thing as a completely original idea. And that’s okay. Every creative person has their own unique style and it’s more important to focus on honing that than trying to come up with a brand new idea.

H&H: The Creators Project comments on your work stating, "[s]eeing women in art who aren’t being watched and aren’t being assessed, who aren’t sucking in their stomachs, arching their backs, or dewily parting their lips, is wonderful, refreshing, and deeply relatable." How do you hope to portray women, and the human person in general, through your art?

SN: Realistically. I want my artwork to be relatable to the average person. My favorite comments to get are “oh, that’s so me!” or “that reminds me of my best friend!” 

H&H: Most of your work is very detail-oriented. About how long do you spend per illustration?

SN: It depends on the size of the drawing. All of the pieces from my 365 project were four inches by four inches, so I could get those done in one to two hours. The larger the piece, the longer it takes. I just recently finished one that was 11x16 and it took a week and a half. 
H&H: I loved your 365 days of illustrations you shared on Instagram. What was the hardest part about that process? What lessons did you learn along the way?

SN: The hardest part was probably finding the energy to draw on the days when I really didn’t want to. There were a few times when I was sick and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed and draw. But I did it anyway and didn’t die, so it all worked out. The whole reason I started the 365 challenge was because I was bored with what and how I was drawing. Doing an illustration a day forced me to branch out creatively. Plus, the more you do something, the better you’ll get at it. 

H&H: What is next for you and your art? 

SN: I’d love to do a book(From Cate: I will definitely be your first preorder.)

H&H: What advice would you give to fellow artists with the same desire to create?

SNWhatever your area of interest is, do it as much as possible and think about it as much as possible. And be stubborn. If someone says you’re not good enough, then get good enough. And tell that person to fuck off. 
For me, Sally's creative work gives me permission to be myself, yet also finding rest in that fact that there is someone else out there sneaking in a piece (or five) of cake at midnight. So for that, and this beautiful conversation, thank you so much, Sally! You can check out her work on Instagram under @sallustration or on her Etsy page here

What about her work inspires or draws you in? Share in the comments below!

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by mlekoshi