Sarah Krizon takes inspiration from the hustle and bustle of city life in Boston, and skate culture, which she was introduced to by her husband and has continued to shape her work. More at the links below!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I grew up in the middle-of-nowhere Ohio, where there are ten churches in every town, three McDonalds, and everyone hangs out in the Walmart parking lot. Feelin’ weird there and needing to get out, I applied to the first college I found that was far away and ended up at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. I graduated with a BFA in Painting, moved to Boston, and have been here since.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I think I’ve got my dad to thank for this one. On the outside he’s just a regular dad who drives a school bus, but really he’s this fun, creative and inventive woodworker. He introduced me and my sisters to this whole world of creativity and endless possibility. I spent most of my early years hanging out with him in his work shop drawing things on scrap pieces of drywall. He took us to the library a lot, found books for us to collage with, had us draw up plans for things we wanted him to build, the list goes on. We grew up doing all sorts of art projects and I guess it never really stopped from there.
What do you like most about working where you do?
I live in a pretty busy part of the city and it’s honestly where I get most of my ideas from. If I’m really stuck on a drawing or can’t think of ideas, I’ll just take a walk. There’s so much to look at and draw from in a big city… and people do the weirdest stuff in public.
My apartment is my favorite as well. My husband and I have got the walls covered in all kinds of odd art, pictures, skateboards, etc. There’s no shortage of inspiration going on here.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My entire approach to my practice has changed over the past few years. During school and for a while after, I was doing a lot of emotional and abstract work, mostly about the past and my feelings. It got really depressing, hard to look at, and not all that fun to do. Having to deal with life is hard enough, and I just want to enjoy painting and laugh at the things I make. I draw what is around me, what I like, and what I think is funny or interesting.
Meeting my husband also changed everything. He is wildly creative, adventurous, and he introduced me to the world of skateboarding! Watching skate videos and paying attention to the music, skate graphics, and artwork has legitimately changed my work at it’s core.
What is your process like?
I’ve turned out to be somewhat obsessive about not forgetting thoughts and ideas.
I’ve got themed inspirational Pinterest boards, notes on my phone, sketchpads, notebooks of lists, and on and on.
I used to sit down to draw and completely blank on what to do, so now I can just look at any of these lists and start from there. I like to work on several pieces at a time. If I get stuck, I move on to the next one and circle back. If I don’t have the time or focus, I’ll do some dumb stuff in my sketchpad. I like drawing the same thing over and over until new shapes emerge. Everything informs everything else. A shape or a pattern will come out of one that maybe I’ll get obsessed with and use on all of them.
Is there any subject or theme you’ve been particularly interested in lately?
My theme of the week in my work has been anything surrounding serial killers/crime scenes/cults. I’ve always been way too fascinated with anything dark and weird like that. I made a painting of John Wayne Gacy and it’s just spiraled downhill from there.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I have always had jobs in kitchens. It’s hard work, Im constantly learning, it’s made me humble, and I’ve met the best and most interesting people along the way. When I get home from work, I’m actually energized and excited to paint in a way that an “art world job” never made me feel. I’m also never fully satisfied in a kitchen job, so it just keeps me working harder in the hope that some day I’ll get to be my own boss.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
Over time, I’ve learned it’s best to try everything. I’ll try to draw anything at least once. I’ve wasted a lot of paper along the way but the best work comes out when I blindly follow any idea. I read somewhere “You’ll never be able to fully explore the world of painting” and it was oddly calming.
Is there any piece of advice you would offer to others?
HAVE FUN making work. Keep it fun. Don’t torture yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Stop and reassess when you feel like its about anything other than you enjoying what you’re doing.
What is your studio like?
My studio is my kitchen table, living room floor, or couch
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
I have three days off that I do the majority of my work in. I work in my apartment, so I usually start the whole process by cleaning. Mindlessly cleaning really helps me to physically wake up, feel at peace in my environment, and get excited to work. Then, I just sit down with a pot of coffee and get to it. My eternal podcasts of choice are My Favorite Murder or Last Podcast on the Left – both funny but also dark. My music choices just depend on how I’m feeling and what I’m working on. Lately, I’ve been starting out listening to Paul Simon and ending listening to Three 6 Mafia. The day just gets weirder the longer I am working.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I feel like anything besides making the work is daunting and terrifying. Even filling out this questionnaire is a real challenge.
After the paintings are made, I then have to be a normal person, talk about myself, get the work out into the world and post about it on social media. Accepting that I have to do things that are against my nature has become the hardest part. And there is so much to compete with now! Instagram is filled with amazing artists…and that can really take a toll on your self esteem at times.
How would you define “success” in art?
I think of success as consistently making progress. If I’ve made something unexpected once a week, I feel great. If I am constantly exploring new things and researching and painting, I feel successful. I’ve set my bar of expectations real low, so any amount of praise or exposure in the world is just a happy surprise.
What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far, related to your work?
My favorite thing so far was having a show in a local bar. It wasn’t the most spectacular thing I’ve ever done, but it was the first time that the setting made sense, and it really changed the direction and reason I make art. It just made me realize I didn’t belong in the “professional” gallery setting and that I wanted my art to be approachable and accessible to anyone.
I’ll also never ever forget meeting Amy Sillman.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on a new series that’s mostly about serial killers, demons, devils, and rabid dogs. I don’t know what I’ll do with them when they’re done, but that’s not important right now. I’m also always working on stuff for a local art market (Boston Hassle Black Market) that happens every few months. I make paintings, shirts, and magnets to sell there.