Sarah Collier didn’t jump right into her career in art. Although she studied it at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, she took a 15-year hiatus as a high school guidance counselor.
Collier explains, “The art always stayed with me. I had studied graphic design and painting, and it just never really left me.” She entered the art world slowly, with the help of her husband, Aaron, before taking the plunge into full-time. “My husband and I started to do art shows every now and then, and local things. Then my mom became ill in 2009, so I had to quit my job, but that ended up segueing into, ‘Maybe we can do this as a full-time thing,’” Collier says.
She has explored her art and style but has always come back to inspiration brought by a high school art project assigned to her years ago, and that was the style that stuck. “I did a graphic design project in high school where my art teacher gave me a vintage ad that we had to replicate with our own painting and design work,” Collier says. “Then I got more into fashion and the general era of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s.”
Collier and her husband tag-team the business: She creates the pieces while he helps with the heavy lifting and creates frames for her work.
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"Girl Likes Old" by Sarah Collier
"WOMEN!" by Sarah Collier
"New Math" by Sarah Collier
She describes her work as “walking through a thrift store and you look at the record albums, old books, fabrics, and materials, and it is spun into the piece of art I make.”
Her bright, fun, pop-culture-inspired pieces are meant to have both a serious side and a sense of humor. Whether inspired by fashion, music, or political movements, her pieces evoke a sense of nostalgia.
Collier has consistently been interested in the mid-20th century. “I’m drawn into that era of design and pulp fiction, and all the old paperback novels,” she says. “There’s something about it that transcends the time in which they were made. I like the color schemes and really everything about it.”
Through a partnership with Getty Images, Collier has access to a variety of old images and ads, and she also draws inspiration from her collected items, including fabrics, books, drawings, and photos. Collier’s mother worked in a fabric shop when she was growing up, which she jokingly admits heavily influences her art.
Collier speaks highly of Greenville. “Artisphere has been one of my favorite shows for a long time. They have great show organization, a great variety of artists, and they treat their artists well,” Collier says. “It’s not too huge, and I love coming there for this show. Greenville seems to have a good amount of town pride where they support the show and promote the show really well.
“I just dig Greenville, and I’m not just saying this, but it would be my pick-up-and-move-to city. It has a great location,” Collier says. “It’s a beautiful town; there has been obvious forethought in the revitalization of the town. There’s good food; there’s a good artist community there. I just think it’s a supportive town that seems to love the arts.”
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