Q&A with the Emerging Artist — Sarah Holtby

This interview is part of a series of interviews Etch Collective has been putting together this past year. If you’re an emerging artist or just someone interested in the arts, we hope you can derive inspiration from these short question and answers by actual emerging artist from across the globe. Our goal is to create inspiration for you to go out and explore your own creative endeavour.


Sarah Holby is an Artist and Architectural Designer living in Canada.



Etch: How long have you been involved in the art scene and what makes you intrigued with it?

Sarah: I am new, I just had my first public showing of my work this past fall as part of a studio tour and the experience was wonderful. I have been working off and on in my studio for the past couple of years developing a personal collection.

E: Do you think art/creativity has inspired you or has broadened your life and if so, in what ways?

S: Art has allowed me to feel, experience and study the world around me with a depth of admiration and awe that would not have been seen otherwise. I really don’t know what it is like to see the world any other way.

The desire to express and create has allowed me to live a life that is freer from boundaries, there are no disciplinary lines in my mind. Art has been about making connections. Everything is connected for me. I see mathematics in the art and I see the art in the science. I see music in the movement and rhythm of all things. It allows me to live a more enriched life.

E: What, artist (musician, painter, sculptor, author) dead or alive, inspires you to create the art you do?

S: As someone who is very new to the art scene and lacks any formal art education, I find myself exploring the art world from experience and connection. Everyday I am learning more as I come in touch with more and more creative people. The world is increasingly small.

I do remember several years ago, before I started drawing portraits, coming across Chuck Close’s work using colour separation to create coloured photo-realistic portraits. I was blown away not only by the detail of his technical drawing skill but his thought process and understanding of the science behind colour overlay. It spoke to me on both an artistic and scientific level.

These days I spend a lot of time observing what artists are creating here and now. I find the portrait work of Ryan Hewett deeply introspective, I can’t help but be enthralled be the both the tactile, yet deeply elusive nature of his creations. My mind finds his work highly relatable.

As someone who recently spent time studying Architecture I find myself highly inspired by architectural work, especially the work of Philip Beesely. His architectural work points to life from every angle. His sketches and installations, invoke a sense of minuteness, the world is vast and highly detailed at every level. The connection between life, art and architecture is seamless.

E: What is your creative process? How do you get in the zone for your creativity? (what are your rituals, habits?)

S: I am deeply compelled to create. It is something I feel everyday. When I am working I am often listening to music, the music needs to reflect the speed of the work. For example, if it is highly detailed drawing, I often listening to slower more melodic music, otherwise the music tends to throw off my artistic rhythm. Everything is connected.

E: If you’ve learned one thing through your creative life, what would you tell aspiring young artists ?

S: Art is a process, from observation, to thought, to action. Create because the process of creating something, whatever that something is, is empowering and redeeming. It makes us feel alive.

E: If you could tell your 5-year-old self today a lesson you’ve learned by being an artist what would that be? (in other words: what is something you’ve learned now that you wish you had known growing up?

S: Everything is integrated. There are no disciplinary boundaries, we learn and experience the details to be able to step back and grasp the big picture. Always ask, so what? This question demands an answer regarding significance and connection. When you can see the big picture you realize that math, science, art etc… are not distinct, each has the ability to influence the other in terms of thinking and understanding. The experience of learning and creating is much richer with this mindset.

E: What is one thing the art world is missing today that you think it needs more of?

S: Slow down. I feel the pressure to create at a faster rate to satisfy the demands of a culture that increasingly looks to instantaneous results. The appreciation for the time and process to create is increasingly overlooked, and yet this is the very reason I create, to slow down, to understand, to appreciate the seemingly insignificant. Our culture is riddled with contradictions, this is one.

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