Rad Gals no. 7 / Emma Sargeant
For our latest piece celebrating the creative women in our community, Emma Sargeant joins us to talk about her process in the arts, pursuing ones dreams, the future, and the illuminati.
Sitting in her favorite chair (which has lasted her through four moves, is heavy as catholic guilt, and if she had to she’d name Bernice… or maybe Beatrice), Emma exudes liveliness. With a brightness to her smile and a twinkle in her eyes that fills the room, she moves like a dancer even when at rest and takes me by surprise with her openness.
If you’ve eaten recently at 99 Park in Bellevue, Bateau on Capitol Hill, Cone & Steiner General Market, Bourbon & Bones in West Woodland, Hitchcock Delicatessen & Charcuterie on Bainbridge Island, or at the Wandering Goose, you’ve probably already seen her artwork. From her regularly changing boards at the Wandering Goose to her sprawling ten-foot spaghetti western panorama canvassing the upper trim of Bourbon & Bones, her work is hard to miss.
“They started as just an idea I had to drive business, I shared them on Facebook and Instagram and people really liked them.” Word of mouth and working with nice people led her to finding more commissioned art pieces, and last year she did the Capitol Hill Block Party Vita wall. “I had to have my friend Beth Martini stand a bit back and give me some perspective. It’s really easy to get sucked in to a big piece.”
“I have to assess on the fly depending on how much chalk I’ve brought, how rough my drawing surface is, that sort of thing. Rougher surfaces will eat up chalk faster and some works can take up to three days to complete. I like how temporary they are though, you can’t preserve them for ever.”
An engaging act for those lucky enough to witness her work and stunning once done, her vintage-inspired chalk board art turn out more realistic then one might expect when seen in their early stages.
“When I started the big hog in Bateau the owner was thinking it would be all psychedelic because I was using a deep purple for a lot of the shading,” she says. “It came out very realistic. I really like it. There’s something I enjoy about drawing farm animals.”
While chalk board drawings and signs have fast become her bread-and-butter earners, Emma is a true renaissance women of the arts. Favoring collage and oil pants, she also dabbles in dance, video, writing, and just about anything else one of her many artist friends might need help in.
“I love helping people with their projects” she reveals with a grin. “It’s really exciting to be involved and work with someone who is trying something new or for the first time. Any time I can help people explore their interests in new mediums or expresses themselves is fun.”
In her paintings and collage work, the color palette stays close to home, ranging from cool grays akin to those of rolling fog, or earth tones like the freshly plowed fields; both of the English countryside she spent her youth in. Even as Seattle is where Emma feels she’s done most of her character building and laid her roots, she’s divided in that she still feels pangs of homesickness for England.
Work/life balance can be an issue for many artists, and Emma meets the challenge in her own way. For creating, Emma practices a strict regiment. “Painting, drawing, running everyday is a practice to purging ideas. It helps me distill my ideas, either physically or on to the page.” Not surprisingly her process begins by channeling feelings and emotions; memories, experiences, always from a personal place and in relation to telling her own story in her own way. “I sometimes start in collages to get general shapes and ideas down before moving to paint”.
Self-taught for the most part, Emma’s parents had an appreciation for the theatre and she danced from a young age until she found oil painting and other ways to express herself after an injury affected her back. She’d always drawn as she found it very therapeutic and likes to keep to a raw, expressive style she regards as outside of influences as her development has been self-driven and personal. She has an interest for many things, like volcanoes, the figure in motion through space, female sexuality, birds and portraits; which she investigates in her own way to maintain purer originality to her narrative.
As for her advice to other artists and creative types? “Keep doing it. The most important thing is to keep at it. It’s easy to slack, and start talking about your craft more then practicing it or to keep putting it off, but just stay on it. Also, be sure you are doing it for yourself and don’t worry about reception. It’s your story, it’s your relationship with expressing yourself to be good to it and be bold. Explore what you want to about yourself and your art and don’t worry about trying to fit in to anything and don’t comprise your work.”
What’s important to Emma is looking ahead and envisioning what the future will bring: “Every day is a dream! I’m excited about getting my groove, steady work with restaurants for chalk signs.” The gears are in motion, she’s outgrown an unforgettable 2015, and it’s now all about what’s to come.
Photography by Marissa Alves