The Inestimable Sarah Fishburn

Howdy to all you cool kids, Nicole here, bright-eyed, bushy tailed and reporting for duty.

I’m super-excited to be sharing an interview with the always-inspiring Sarah Fishburn. I first became familiar with Sarah’s work in True Colors – an incredible collection of art journal pages and from what I’ve seen at Sarah’s website, she just keeps getting better! Once you’re done reading all about this talented lady, be sure to pop over to her site and be prepared to lose yourself for a few hours and come out dripping in paint and over-flowing with ideas.

Can you share  a little bit about yourself? I really like the phrase at your Etsy Shop, “A LITTLE BIT STEAMPUNK + A LITTLE BIT JACKIE-O” Can you tell us about that?

I was born in 1954, the year more kids were born than any other in the history of the world. I grew up sans sisters (3 younger brothers) here and there, the Midwest, California, but mostly the Southwest – Arizona and New Mexico. My husband Colin and I have lived in Colorado for about 25 years; we’ve been together for 37. I was attracted to him initially because he plays a mean flute. We have 3 fabulous daughters, September, Corina, and Sierra-Marie, and one equally fabulous son, Silver. We have 7 cool grandkids, from 1-12yrs. Only 1 kitty at the moment, hoping to get another pup sometime this year…we share a veggie garden in the front yard with our neighbors… I’ve never had a driver’s license. I do have a swell retro style Raleigh bicycle. I love to travel anywhere especially if there’s a beach involved, but at the moment I am working 7 days a week so feeling a bit fettered and frustrated at the lack of scenic change! I do like what I do though, and feel grateful to have 2 (outside of art) jobs. Colin just signed a lease on a building and will be opening a coffee house this summer, so we definitely need that bit of security – knowing we can pay the rent – while he gets established. I guess you could say my hobbies are watching movies (I’ll give anything a shot…) and reading (ditto).

I’m so happy you like my etsy shop motto! I can’t tell you! It’s a play on the well-known phrase”A little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll”. My style – and most of what I create – generally has just a bit of dark steampunk edge, mixed with a drop of elegance, ala one of the greatest style icons of the 20th century…

Show us a favorite project or two and tell us why you love it?

The girl in the doorway is my great-grandmother in a studio portrait at age 13. I loved my concept for the piece, and being able to use her image (everyone says I take after her, and she was an artist, too). I love what I wrote, and the overall fairytale look.

Done for a 26 person Alphabet collaborative that has been shown in several galleries across the US, this mixed-media painting (letter S) is totally autobiographical. I’m crazy about all the shades of red I was able to incorporate and the overall dark and abstract quality of the piece.

I’ve seen your work in some of my all-time favorite publications (True Colors, Complete Guide to Altered Imagery etc.) What are you working on now?

Right now I’m so busy at my day job that I’m mostly trying to get my studio redesigned to facilitate being able to work on anything at all, in 1/2 hour blocks! I am working on the 2010 summer/fall issue of my zine and also have a third book in mind for Angela Cartwright’s and my series “In This…”; we have yet to go full-steam on that though.

I wish as one of the True Colors artists that we could do a second volume – we certainly didn’t cover everything in the first…

You can catch a glimpse of some digital art exploration I did in Susan Tuttle’s new book Digital Expressions…

Where do you get inspiration?

I try to always be open to the possibilities no matter where I am or what I’m doing. There are inspiries to be found in posters stapled to kiosks downtown, in the shadows of houseplants on the wall in the late afternoon, in the movement of a curtain as it catches the slightest breeze from an open window…The kidz at the school where I work my day job are a fantastic secret source for me!

Steam punk style and houses make frequent appearances in your art. What draws you to these forms/style?

Turns out, Steampunk was part of my style before I even knew it had a name! I grew up reading sci-fi and fantasy and the combo of those and the mad Victorian sensibility that defines Steampunk just appeals to every fiber of my being. What could be more perfect for an artistic magpie attracted to sparkley bits embedded in machinery… Steampunk’s dark with the promise of light, it’s the poetry of machinery, in a flamelit world that lurks just past the periphery of sight…

Houses – now that’s probably a subconscious thing! I’ve lived in almost three dozen house and apartments in my life – sheesh. I’m definitely a nest builder – I would just as soon be arranging things prettily wherever I live as almost anything else! I’ve worked with a close friend and also my daughter in re-doing other people’s living spaces, too. Houses – and homes – were the subject of my first book In This House: A Collection of Altered Art Imagery and Collage Techniques.

Are there other images that consistently appear in and inspire your work?

I definitely use family photographs. Images of children for sure…flowers…I just went and peeked at my own website (!) and that pretty much sums it up, yup, children and flowers. BUT. I don’t always use them in the most expected way – that is – there may be something undefined, something darker, lurking just out of sight – a threat, or maybe just a mystery, with no real image to define it – a presence felt, yet unseen…

What products can you not live without when making art?

I love ALL of the Tūl markers and Tūl fine point black pens, Krylon X-metal paints, printable transparency sheets, my Canon Pixma Pro9000 printer, my sewing machine, a decent pencil (one whose lead doesn’t constantly break), a set of good colored pencils, and any tape, decorative or otherwise, I can get my hands on. Images of course. And though they’re not actually a product, and it might sound strange, I would be hard pressed to make my art without words – after all, I am a Narrative Artist…

What’s your process when creating?

It varies from one project to the next. In general, though, I go into a project with only the vaguest sort of notion of what I want to do. It usually starts with words – a phrase that I heard, or made up, and it’s my job to “illustrate”… hence, Narrative Artist. I delve into collected bits to create a background of papers and on top of those a splattering of paint, and then embellish with images, sketches, stencils, glitter…

Tell us about your zine and your experience publishing it.

Pasticcio Quartz (QUality ART Zine) comes out 3 times a year. It’s printed in brilliant full color by and at 8×8, our readers can easily toss it in their bags and have it ready to pull out to peruse at the drop of a hat! Angela Cartwright and I work on each issue for months in advance – we look for artists from all over the world to feature in a gallery called Palais d’Art. A fair number of guys usually contribute to the gallery – you don’t always see that in mixed-media magazines. We include articles on a myriad of techniques and other content to excite the interest of artists of all disciplines. A little Art History is covered in each issue – I write an entertaining and edifying feature called Art Attack, highlighting two artists from the past – a man and a woman – of whom our readers may or may not be aware. We also include an in-depth interview with an artist currently on the scene. Every issue also includes peeks at things each of us have done, and a lot of pure inspiration – quotes, book reviews, and more. There’s almost always a surprise or two included – maybe a page of clip art imagery, a fabulous recipe, an article written by a guest artist of renown… Here’s the  link to order a copy (we currently have 9 issues available and are working on our 10th).

Sarah has offered a RAK to you, our wonderful, creative readers.

If you want to win Issue 9 of Pasticcio Quartz, please leave a comment for Sarah.


65 Responses

  1. Wow, awesome interview! I totally dig your style, love it!

  2. Hi Sarah
    Happy to hear more about you and I look forward to looking through your tricks of the trade more closely, etc. etc. happy happies.

  3. The Zine looks great! I love Lulu’s preview feature. Any plans for download-able versions?

  4. Beautiful inspiring work, Sarah!!

  5. Fantastic interview – off to check out all the fun links

  6. Great interview! I love your work, Sarah!

  7. i too am a child of 1954 & can totally see your very creative artistic point of view. I too use family photos and can’t say enough about the pic of your 13 yr old great-grandmother! Keep up the good work, want to see more of it.

  8. I wish you well juggling “real” work with your creative adventures. I’d love to see your magazine for a little spring direction change! Vicki

  9. Great interview! You are one busy gal. I also wish you well juggling your “real” work, but don’t forget to take time out for “YOU”. LOVE LOVE LOVE your magazine! Debi

    PS: I’m a child of 1954 also!

  10. wonderful interview! thanks so much for sharing

  11. Loved your interview 🙂 It’s so interesting to hear about you, your life and your Art – very inspirational – Thank you:-)

  12. A long-time admirer and very happy to see this great interview!

  13. Yep, 1954 rocks! 🙂
    I ♡ your Work & your Words. And you’ve reignited my art flame, which has been a little dormant for a few months. Oooh…you’ve GOT to check out the Steampunk Tree House which lives in Oakland when it isn’t at Burning Man. Sooo cool! Go to (Never been there–a friend send the link a few days ago.)
    Thanks for the Inspiration! Now off to visit your site…

  14. What a great interview.
    Now I know a why Steampunk & you get along so well.
    Happy days,

  15. Great interview!

  16. What a wonderful interview! How nice to get to know you better. God you sure are one busy chick! Good Luck with ALL of your endeavors.

  17. Wonderful interview with Sarah! I have the first 3 Zines and loved them! Now with our Canadian Dollar being so strong I will have to revisit ordering them again!

  18. Thank you for all the fab comments! RoByn – we haven’t really wanted to do downloadable as we wanted to control the quality of colors etc. But I’m not sayin’ it will never happen!!

  19. Sarah, you’ve always been an inspiration to me and you and Angela supply me with endless ways of living an artistic life! I’ve recieved every issue of Pasticcio until recent bad economics. So winning issue 9 would truly make me so HAPPY!!

  20. Great interview- it’s fun to learn more about you – a little more than the blog reveals!!! I do have one of AC and your “In This…” books- would love to read Pasticcio!!! Thanks for the RAK!!

  21. I grew up in a home with no one expressing anything artisitic but me. No one cooked, sewed, planted flowers. Nothing. It was life in front of the tube night after night after night. I must be an alien. Thankfully, I was happy to be creative by myself until the internet gave me so many sisters.

  22. Love reading about your personal life and your creative process! The creative process of all artists completely fascinates me! My favorite part of any art book/magazine is related to the process. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Sarah, your art has always inspired me. Loved this interview! Terry

  24. Wow! wonderful interview. Do not work to hard. Great Pasticcio. Going to order the first one. next Friday.

    Sherrie Roberts

  25. hi sarah! interesting interview! enjoyed reading about your art and that you don’t have a license! i own several pasticcos – they are definately great reading (and drooling and dreaming…)

  26. I was very interested by the SF/Steampunk influence. The quote “Steampunk’s dark with the promise of light, it’s the poetry of machinery, in a flamelit world that lurks just past the periphery of sight…” is just an spot on statement.
    Thanks for this insightful and well done interview. An enjoyable insight.

  27. Great interview Sarah!! I love that description of your style!

  28. Great site. You and my mother are the only two people I know who do not drive. I guess you don’t drive in order to leave a smaller carbon footprint. My mother does not drive so she can leave a lifetime of footprints. Nice to know the world has such talented people as you, in it.

  29. I would adore to win this! And by the way, I don’t drive either – never had the inclination, never felt the necessity. In London, the transport links are fabulous – plus I like walking!

  30. What a great gift! Thanks for the opportunity to win a wonderful product!

  31. A wonderful interview, I really felt a connection!!!
    I’d love to win a copy of Pasticcio #9, they are the best!!!

  32. Your energy, imagination and talent are incredible, but I’m still stuck on NO DRIVERS LICENSE. You must be in shape!! 🙂

  33. Sarah your work is inspiring – so fun to see this interview and learn a little more about you and your art. It’s heartening to see that, like me, you also work outside of art, it gives me hope that finding balance and time for all the things we want and need to achieve is possible after all.

  34. would love a copy

  35. Great interview. Thanks for turning me on to Tūl markers!

  36. I am among those born in 54! When I think of Steampunk

  37. Oops! I was so worried about which of my blogs I was signed into that I forgot to finish my thought!

    I meant to say I think of that movie First Man on the Moon … when I think of Steampunk!

  38. What a wonderful interview. I love Sarah’s art work and her zine is in a league of its own. SO glad that I could learn more about her.

  39. Great to learn a little more about you Sarah. You have a wonderful way with words – your poetic description of “Steampunk” is a phrase to savour and feed our creative souls!

  40. loved learning more about you – you have inspired me ever since true colors

  41. Loved reading this interview. I understand the balance of a day job and art.. I’m always trying to achieve it. Thanks,

  42. […] WIN a copy of Issue 9?  We we’ll be choosing a winner Thursday morning, so please comment on this post for your chance to thumb through this lovely lovely – compliments of Sarah and […]

  43. I’d love to have the chance to browse your zine! I’m sorry to say I’ve never seen it before.

  44. terrific interview! wow! holding down 2 jobs plus finding time to do your art – quite an accomplishment. I didn’t drive until i was 25 – but living in LA I had to learn!…..

  45. Hi Sarah,
    I loved reading this interview…you alwys have the best answers.
    I would go over the moon for a True Colors Vol2

  46. Love your work and zine. Would love to win this issue!

  47. thats a great interview!
    I find her stuff very inspirational.
    thanks for the chance to win such a wonderful gift!

  48. Hi Sarah! This is a wonderful interview! I can feel your passion for what you create, that’s so important. You and Angela don’t just show up at the page and throw random things together to make Pasticcio Quartz, you live, breathe and create it, just like you both create your artworks. Hope that someday I too will be able to create artwork to inspire others. Keep doing what you do because you give so much joy in your art to so many people.

  49. Already #9?? Would love to have a copy to tote around and read while I’m going ’round and ’round… Your interview was fun and informative. The 50s were a good time to grow up in – yeah, I was born in 1950. I can’t imagine not driving!! I am an avid recycler though. My fingers are crossed that Pasticcio 9 winds up in my mailbox.

  50. Very cool learning more…thanks for sharing through this interview!

  51. Great interview and wonderful artwork, so creative.

    Thank you so much for the special visit to your studio of Kristen’s altered books class. Your works are amazing and very inspiring!

  52. Thank you so much for allowing us to see some of your work- I didn’t sleep much last night because I was so excited about what I might try today

  53. What an inspiring, authentic life. Insight to the work and process of other artists, even if in print, always feels like resorative conversation. As an abstract artist who subconsciously draws on personal symbols, I especially relate to your enthusiasm for narrative in art and facility to draw on images and forms in your daily life. For me, narrative appears at the end of the work, but your work takes one story and re-presents it beautifully, so the characters converse with us today, and the narrative continues. Lovely. Thanks to Sarah and to Nicole.

  54. Wow, you ladies never cease to amaze me with your projects ! Just beautiful and cant wait to see what else the “zine” includes!

  55. Thank you so much for such an inspiring evening! Your work is amazing! Thanks for being so open and sharing it with all of us!

  56. I am so glad to be related to such a wonderful artist- You are an inspiration. Love to all

  57. Sarah…I’ve long found you an inspiration! Your authentic voice has given me the courage to follow my own path. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  58. Sarah, I thoroughly enjoyed your interview. You were born the year I married (when I was a young 15-year-old). I was in the tenth grade and had to go to high school two-and-one-half more years. I’m still married to my sweet DH.
    Your artwork is great and I love your sense of humor,

  59. Her work is beautiful!

  60. Steampunk is timeless and will keep fostering creativity.

    Sara rocks!

  61. Loved reading about you. Great interview.
    Your work is very inspiring~
    Souds like you Love doing what you are doing and it shows in your art.
    Keep it up!

  62. hey Sarah great interview love your work and im a child of 1946 and am loving this collage / journal journey its bought out the inner child in me and im having a wonderful time , so happy u have written this book and good luck with it…

    hugz bev

  63. XXO to all of you!!!

  64. […] winner of our Pasticcio giveaway never claimed their prize so in all fairness we have randomly drawn a new winner! Congrats to […]

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