By Kirsty Scott
Ever imagined what would happen if Irn Bru met a Chinese tea set? How about Dim Sum encountering a Scottish tea cake?
Neither had we until we discovered artist Sarah Kwan.
A bit about Kwan
The Edinburgh based freelance illustrator specialises in portraits, designs, murals, screenwriting, and, of course, illustrations.
This is what we gathered about Sarah's art from our chat with her:
- It's quirky
- It's creative
- She can pretty much do anything!!
Okay, okay, anything may be a bit of an exaggeration... but you get the idea.
Sarah studied Fine Art Drawing & Painting at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee. She has since exhibited in galleries such as The Royal Scottish Academy and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
But how did she get to where she is now?
The answer is a helluva lot of time, energy and talent. Lots and lots of talent.
Like many independent businesses, Sarah took the slow and steady road to success. She started small and chose to invest her personal savings into creating her products on a limited scale.
"Whatever money I ended up making from that, I would put it back into my business to create more art."
Portraits to pin badges
...and everything in between!
Now I'm no expert on Chinese culture, but I am aware of the importance of multiculturalism in today's society. Being an active member of the international community is the new norm. We all know the importance of learning about and understanding other cultures and traditions.
Sarah Kwan has created the 'East meets West' series - a range of designs inspired by the connections between Scottish/British and Chinese cultures.
She hopes to promote these country's similarities in a fun and playful way, with pops of colour and bright patterns. We think this unique series is an incredible statement about our multicultural society.
Sarah has transformed her exclusive designs into everyday items; magnets, pin badges, cards, notebooks, stickers, letter writing sets and tea towels.
Some of our favourites include the Crazy a Bao You greetings card...
and the Teacake Dim Sum tea towel...
The artist now stocks multiple independent stores in Edinburgh - her hard work has clearly paid off. Check out LoveCrumbs where you'll find some of her work among tasty treats and a good cup of coffee. Or grab yourself a Keep Edinburgh Thriving Gift Box and you might be lucky enough to receive a fabulous Sarah Kwan Artist product.
But hold up just a second, her talent doesn't stop there.
In addition to her product designs, she hand paints murals, signs and windows for local businesses.
Pencil dog portrait, Sarah Kwan Artist
Sarah also creates impressive portraits and accepts commissions - furry friends included! We weren't lying when we said she can do pretty much anything.
A sign of the quarantimes
It's not a secret that small businesses have been hit hard by the recent global pandemic. Shop closures have led to a decrease in sales from the kind of stores that usually stock artists like Sarah's products.
With these shops closed, Sarah turned to her online community for support. She has managed to adapt her business to the 'new normal' we're now living in by fulfilling online orders to keep her afloat until the well-anticipated re-opening of shops.
When chatting to Sarah, she expressed her gratitude towards her loyal customers who have continued to support her work throughout lockdown.
"I’m eternally grateful for their support in purchasing my work that way."
With all the negativity flying around, we've been blown away by the positive spin Sarah has put on the last few months. When asked about how COVID-19 has affected her business and, although admitting it's been tough, she explained how it's allowed her to think about the future and solidify her business plans.
"it has forced me to re-evaluate and affirm what values I hold most dear and what direction I want my life to go in."
Her ability to make the best from a bad situation and overcome such challenging months is admirable. We believe Sarah's positivity plays testament to her optimistic attitude and business success.
Life gave us all lemons; Sarah made lemonade.
Just keep swimming
So what's on the horizon for Sarah Kwan?
It's safe to say her future plans are looking just as bright as her positive outlook.
Sarah told us she isn't worried about the future of her work and is ready to take on any challenge that gets thrown her way. She plans to create new designs as well as continuing to develop her 'East meets West' series.
'Fish n Chips' design, Sarah Kwan Artist
With the future looking unclear for so many businesses right now, this is an admirable mentality that I'm sure will be idolised by many.
Her ability to maintain this mindset during such uncertain times puts her in good stead to progress with her art. We are stoked to see what comes next for Sarah Kwan Artist and can't wait for more funky, unique projects and designs!