A Studio Visit with Sarah Myers

All photographs by Renne Bautista

Canvas & Cassette: How long have you had this spot?

Sarah Myers: We’ve been in this apartment since we’ve moved to New York, so almost three years, but I did have a roommate who lived here [referencing the spare bedroom Sarah uses as her studio] because it has the external door, which is nice because it’s separate from the rest of the apartment.

C&C: Did you just have a desk in your apartment before you were able to use this space?

SM: Yeah, previously I was working in a smaller room in our apartment—which is basically a glorified hallway (laughs).

C&C: For artists, not having a dedicated space seems like a common problem, particularly in New York. Before you had your own workspace, how were you able to carve out time for your work?

SM: It was a little stressful and I felt kind of cramped. We have a hall closet that I used to store all of my packaging stuff. I learned to be very organized which was a perk. It doesn’t have much natural light so it's kind of dark so it wasn’t the most creative space—I like the natural light in here, a lot.

C&C: It’s definitely nice to have a dedicated space and have a lot of room. The ways you choose to organize your supplies and work is also very visually appealing.

SM: These jars are actually old candle holders. I froze the candle and chipped out all the wax.

C&C: Have you been working with different tools recently? There seems to be a bit more color in your work.

SM: Yeah, I’ve been playing around. For this [points to artwork created for Gabrielle Marlena, above] I actually used paint, which I don’t usually use since I have my mobile studio and work in my office a lot. I’ve also been using nicer watercolor paper.

C&C: Is that going to be Gabi’s album cover?

SM: She isn’t sure yet, but she’s going to use it for something.

C&C: The way you’ve hung your artwork resembles a gallery.

SM: My goal is to fill up the wall. I went to Michigan in March for my friend’s wedding and I got a couple more of these little frames that I’ll put some stuff into. Soon it’ll be packed up so the entire wall is filled with drawings.

Olive, Sarah’s cat, enters the room.

SM: She’s a camera whore. She’s amazing. I kind of have her trained to put her on my shoulder.

C&C: I’m dying. She’s a ham.

Renne Bautista: She’s so relaxed. It seems like she’s enjoying having her picture taken.

SM: She really is. Her relaxed state is my aspiration in life.

C&C: Always relaxed and photogenic. Have you collected all of the things in here [points to a house with tiny shelves above Sarah’s desk]?

SM: Pretty much. A lot of them are gifts from my friend. My friend’s mom is an artist and she made some of these pieces. They’re a very artistic family. Oh, and these dolls], my mom and I made them when I was little. We made this injured one [showing a doll with a cast].

C&C: These remind me of worry dolls.

SM: I think that's what inspired us because I had a lot of them as a kid. Here's a pirate [showing a doll with a wooden leg]. There were a lot more, I just grabbed a few.

C&C: How old were you when you made these?

SM: Probably around four years old. My mom helped a lot with them.

C&C: What a creative idea. They’re a whole cast of characters.

SM: Yeah, my mom was really great at doing crafts with me. When I went home, there was a bag filled with them, it was really funny. This one is a disco man. He has a lot of accessories. And this one is the vampire. I also have a lot of teeth things. I don’t know why but I like teeth and find them really interesting.

C&C: Oh, I love your bunny tattoo! Did you get that in Montréal?

SM: I just got it from Bruno Levy, he works out of Bandit Studio in DUMBO. The one I got from Montréal is this one [points to a tattoo of a woman’s face coming out of the side of a leaf].

C&C: Was that the hand-poked one?

SM: No, that was this one [points to a tattoo on her wrist of a woman’s head; above, right] by Bruno Levy. And I have another hand-poked one up here [pointing to a hand holding a moon] done by Rachel Howe.  

RB: Oh, you did hand-poked? How long did it take?

SM: It was pretty fast. I was in there for maybe two hours total, which included placement.

C&C: I don’t know if you remember us saying this, but when you were talking about wanting to do hand-poked tattoos and looking for someone to practice on, we were both like [waves hands up in the air].

SM: I actually have a kit. Want to do it right now? (laughs)

C&C: Calling us out on our bluff. Is that something that you still would like to do?

SM: Totally. I just haven’t had the time but the kit has everything—bandages, ink, needles and flesh sheets you can draw on.

C&C: I feel like if I ever get a tattoo, it’ll be from you. Is hand-poked a better experience?

SM: Yes, it’s a lot more delicate. The machine’s vibrating can get intense while the hand-poke is just a little stick.

RB: The buzzing is maddening after a while.

SM: Yeah, that’s the hardest part, especially with the bigger ones because it takes a while and depending on the placement, the position you’re put in can be uncomfortable.

C&C: What’s the vibe of the tattoo studio that Bruno works in?

SM: He owns it now as a co-owner. It’s cool because there are people just hanging out. It’s a pretty big space with only three artists there so it's super chill.

C&C: Have you tattooed anybody?

SM: Not yet. I’m going to do myself first just in case (laughs). And then my friend Sandy said I can tattoo her. I’ll let you know when I have some experience because I don’t want you to be my guinea pigs.

C&C: This will also give us time to build our courage up. [Autumn to Marissa] We should do it together. I think it’ll be better and then you can go first so I still have the option to chicken out.

SM: Having a friend come with you is great, though. For the stick n’ poke one, I was kind of nervous to meet the artist because I followed her work for a long time so I was kind of fangirling (laughs) but we ended up talking throughout the session and it was nice.

C&C: Sorry, this is off topic—is that a loom up there?

SM: Yes, I made a tiny one. I got into weaving—mentally—a few years ago but never had the time to do it and finally made this. There was a weaver in Ann Arbor who I traded weaving lessons for violin lessons with so it worked out really well. She helped me set that up and my parents bought me the supplies a few years ago.

C&C: How do you manage the variety of projects you want to take on while working as a full-time artist?

SM: It’s kind of hard to be honest. I mostly put things on the back-burner and when I do have time I get really excited. The lack of time helps me narrow down what I really want to do. When I was younger, I had less of a focus and was all over the place. My parents were so nice, not that they gave me everything I wanted but they helped and encouraged me. For example, when I was into photography, they bought me a camera and then the loom for weaving. Now I’m narrowing it down, taking it slow and focusing on my work and then eventually will branch out to more projects.

C&C: It’s really nice to hear that your parents are always encouraging of the things you’ve showed interest in. I feel that a lot of parents don’t pay attention to those things.

SM: Yeah, and my dad—who was in the marines and the village mayor of our town—is not really into art at all but still encouraged me do whatever I wanted.

C&C: This was the first artwork that I remember seeing of yours at Desert Island when your stickers and postcards were there [points to a keychain of a girl sticking her tongue out]. And is that Hannah Perry’s work from Fem Foundry?

SM: Yes! And this above her is Shanna van Maurik.

C&C: Wow, that painting looks just like you. This is really weird, I think she’s unaware that you’re her muse (laughs).

SM: Oh, I also got this print by Yelena Byrksenkova from Citizen Vintage. It kind of looks like me too. I feel very narcissistic right now—the art on my walls are either mine or it looks like me (laughs).

C&C: (laughs) What have you been working on recently?

SM: Mostly the work for Gabi Marlena and my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. I’m really excited to have my book in there. For the cover, I’m going to make a paper doll whose body will be built into the page but you can move her arms and legs around. I got the idea from making a card for my mom that she loved. It was a little girl lifting up a crown for the birthday queen. Here's a video that I took of it [shows video].

RB: You used stop motion for this? That’s so cool.

SM: Thank you, yeah I have a little stop motion app. It’s usually something I do on my lunch break (laughs).

- Autumn Fox and Marissa Passi
All Photographs by Renne Bautista