The holiday season is just about to begin – which means it’s time to buy gifts. After running into artist and gift-designer extraordinaire Sara Barnes at a local craft fair, BOM asked her a couple questions about her process.
BOM: When did you start creating original designs? Have you always been an artistic person?
Barnes: I’ve always been into artistic stuff ever since I was a kid. I always found myself making random “projects” in my spare time and doodling in sketch pads. I never really got serious about it until high school and more so in college. Once I started getting a feel for it, I leaned more towards painting with oils and watercolors, but always kept my mind open to other mediums.
BOM: What inspires the designs for the bottles?
Barnes: The bottle décor I’ve been doing lately was more inspired by the upcoming holidays, but also was a way to recycle the otherwise useless trash. I have recently started trying to come up with other modern ways to design them so they could be admired year-round as well.
BOM: What’s the process for designing and painting a bottle? What qualities do you look for when selecting a bottle to paint?
Barnes: With most of the crafts and paintings I create, there really isn’t a real process. I usually gain inspiration from something such as colors or patterns that work well together, or maybe some type of theme that it might be based on. The bottles tend to be more literal, usually themed around a holiday or specific design element. My paintings, however, are normally more abstract or open to interpretation. I use painting as a stress relief medium you might say, and just sort of let the artwork create itself.
BOM: Where do you get your supplies? (I’m picturing you chugging bottle of wine after bottle).
Barnes: I’ve been going to bars and restaurants to pick up used wine bottles and mason jars that they want to get rid of. Maybe on a Friday night I could supply a couple of them myself, lol. All of my other supplies, like paint, decorations, etc. are from craft stores.
BOM: How is painting different from jewelry making? What do you do differently when making bracelets compared to painting bottles or designing cards?
Barnes: Everything that I create usually takes a good amount of time to produce. Painting tends to come more quickly if I just let my mind go and relax. I like to use that as my stress reliever; it’s very relaxing at times. Making the jewelry or anything else takes more time because I have to collect the supplies and make sure that any lettering or designs are straight and look good, or that any beadwork is made with quality and won’t fall apart.
BOM: How has your art changed since putting your work on Etsy?
Barnes: I’ve only recently started using Etsy to sell my work in the past few months. Since then, I haven’t really painted anything new, so that’s all relatively the same. But with my jewelry and other items, I’ve sort of been incorporating my own style so that people of all ages would enjoy them. I noticed that most of my jewelry seems to be aimed at a younger female age range, in regards to colors or the charm icons. Going forward, I want to expand on that and incorporate more designs that all ages and genders might be interested in. As far as the glassware goes, those haven’t changed much since they’re mostly holiday based, but I plan on taking a more edgy approach to the newer items I start listing.
BOM: What are some of the advantages to putting your work online? What are some of the challenges?
Barnes: I find that putting everything online nowadays is just so much easier of a platform to use to spread the word about your artwork. Today, everyone and their grandmas are using technology in some way, shape, or form, and it’s just easier to have everything mobile and ready to go. Especially since there are huge apps like Facebook and Instagram; I can market a lot of my work there, too. Sometimes there are challenges, like getting people to check out your page daily for updates once they’ve already looked at it once or twice. It’s easier for name brands or famous artists to get people to come back often rather than a small town artist just starting out. That’s where persistence comes into play and an artist just has to keep trying to get the word out there.
BOM: What’s some advice you’d give your younger self?
Barnes: I wish I would’ve pursued art more deeply when I was in high school. I had some idea of what I liked and what I was into, but I really should’ve started creating and getting more inspiration as a teen. I am still pretty young, though, and I have plenty of time and places to gain more inspiration from. I don’t think getting a slow start has really had a negative impact on me, per say.
Check out Sara’s work online at Etsy right now and grab an artistic gift for a friend!