A life too serious becomes ripped of its meaning, dried out and hung up, not even suitable for show. Without room for human error (read “a humane touch”), life is not our own, but a sad reality for those steadfast realists. Needless to say, art—life’s precious counterpart—too loses both purpose and passion in earnestness, falling short of those curious imperfections meant to entice. Both demand a balance of the actual and the absurd. It goes without saying: we place emphasis on the absurd.
It can be a difficult balance to find, but one that artist Sarah Haug effortlessly equalizes with busty bunnies and true-to-form emotions—that is, if you can decipher them. Without detection of a clear start or finish, fine-penned lines wrap around our imagination, her imagination, forming wacky worlds hosting curious dispositions: raving creatures, eyes rolled back in pleasure; obscure, vacant landscapes gently freckled with textures. Haug’s work instinctually evokes observation and inquiry—thoughts and interpretations unique to the viewer, but always with playful, even mischievous, virtue unique to her visual presence.
Haug’s use of multimedia performances heightens every facet of her illustrations, accentuating every character, every story, every opinion, to create visual sounds and thoughts from standstill spectacles. It’s meant for rhythm, for sentience, rousing equal parts thought and delusion. From Haug’s standpoint, anything goes, and beautifully. A position we’re more than happy to get behind.
Give us the Sarah Haug spiel? Who are you? What do you do? Does Switzerland really have the best chocolate?
I am an illustrator and artist, living in Geneva. I moved here from Bern 13 years ago, because Geneva was the less swiss city in Switzerland I could find.
I am living with my companion who is a painter and my cat and we are both big drawing nerds. I have a training as a visual communications designer but I have always been much more motivated in building and expressing my personal world of characters and stories. I try to find a balance between personal and commission projects.
We know nothing about Geneva; what is the city like? In what ways does the city influence your artwork, style, and aesthetic?
Geneva is a very international city at the end of the lake of Geneva, very close to France. Geneva is the hometown and birthplace of Frankenstein. It has a rich cultural life especially for music and film and is home to lot of festivals. Once it was supposedly the most squatted city in the world, which has had a huge influence on culture and a hole generation. The wind has changed back to banks and clocks only and the spaces for self-expression have become squarce again. The artistic scene in Geneva could be described as quite rebellious, punk and even a bit dark and this definitely had an influence on my evolution as an artist. Geneva also has a quite a tradition in illustration and comics, so it is a good place to be… and at the same time I am always curious, on the look out for stuff to discover elsewhere, which is why a lot of my projects are about travels.
Chocolate is definitely good and very popular, I don’t know if it is the best but people in general do have a high standard.
You work at several different scales. Do you have a preference? And does your creative process differ between large murals and smaller canvas-sized scales?
I think what I love most, are doing big drawings and animations because of the relationship to space and my body as I do them.
But my work progresses in circles and each process has its interesting sides. After my last big animation project, I was so worn out that I didn’t touch animation for six months. I was recently invited to do a VJ Set and I made some new material. It was very nice to see, how what I had been doing in the meantime had left its mark. Sometimes I like to tackle a project from the technological side and then I need to go back to as much immediacy as I can, e.g.. a black brush drawing on paper.
I draw a lot in my sketchbook, and from there I build my stories for animation or bigger drawings. Often I have a hard time to structure myself, because I don’t like to get lost in my head, so I start walking down the road, waiting for the project to take form. I don’t like planning too much, and try to find my way around it as much as I can.
Who/what artistic influences do you draw from? Is there a particular artistic genre you’re drawn to?
My biggest artistic influence is probably music… I feel that in every period of my life, there was something to look at and experience which has left its mark on me artistically. As a kid I could get lost in photo books, especially portraits. Later on I was very into independent comics, even though I wasn’t drawing as a teenager, it has definitely educated my sensibility. Nowadays I am surrounded by music, mostly rock and experimental electronics, I am exploring even though not systematically. It brings so many things to the point that interest me. Rhythm, melody, time, stories, dramaturgy, culture as a hole, politics, style. Actually most of my friends are musicians or music nerds and I am very drawn to this kind of energy. Which is why I started out as a VJ.
Tell us about the intersection of whimsical, almost childlike animals and the mature situations you detail them in.
I’ve read recently that humans tell stories to rehearse for real life, which is maybe what I do with my drawings. I really like animals and people and I imagine my work taking place in a world where the three (I am counting in plants too), have mixed. The species of the future so to speak. (By the way science fiction movies e.g. Total Recall, are a reference I should mention). I think, this is actually a very optimistic thought, because if we were a bit more like animals, the world maybe would be a lot more zen. And imagine how cool it must be to have four legs. I wasn’t aware of the fact that the situations in my drawings are mature because, I really try to go for the stupid, fun and fantastic. Or are those the same?
We’re interested in the evolution of your artwork. Did it always exist in this particular style? Same type of characters and color palette? How has it evolved?
My VJ sets and big drawings used to be mashups from sketchbooks full of small, loose drawings and characters. Somehow lately I manage to be a bit more organized and suddenly I have a clear vision of the project and I can realize it very straight forward.
In my VJ sets, my work is very colorful. Then, as I began to make the big drawings, the color disappeared for at least 2 years. I was completely absorbed in black and white lines. I found that color was distracting and it didn’t make sense adding it afterwards. I really like to go with flow, in one take. Now I seem to have found a way to bring the colors back to my image-making and I really enjoy it. It is more descriptive and helps adding meaning and atmosphere to the story. I try hard to find interesting combinations. I like to work digitally with color because I hate to wash brushes, everything gets brown after a while and I get mad out of impatience.
For more from Sarah Haug check out here website here: www.sarahhaug.com