Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson is a colourful character with an equally colourful array of career notches under her sparkly belt.

Hailing from the UK, Sarah is an Illustrator and Artist whose portfolio spans from prestigious fashion houses to international magazines and she recently collaborated with local brand The Undercurrent.

We sat down to chat with Sarah about her impressive career and why she chose to call the Gold Coast home.

One of your pieces is hanging at the Arts Centre as part of the Signs of the Times exhibition, what do you love most about being part of the Gold Coast’s art scene?

I love that everything still works via word of mouth here, there is a real arts community here even though it is quite small. I’ve had lots of enquiries and projects come in locally from people who have seen the Fiat Art Car – which has my work on it.

 What drew you to the Gold Coast?

I moved here to escape city rent and live in a little converted dairy on my boyfriend’s family farm. He is 5th generation farm stock and we are so lucky to have fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, nuts and eggs daily! He and his father also built me a fantastic studio next to our house, nestled beneath a few palm trees, so I have such a great spot.

I’m from the UK and it is really not possible there to live in a remote, picturesque part of the countryside yet be only 15 minutes from a mainline train station and within 30-40 mins reach of the 3rd and 4th largest cities in the country! Plus – weather! I quickly realised living in Melbourne that year round sunshine and a mild winter weren’t part of the package! I grew up in the grey, damp north of England dreaming of sunshine and saturated beach colours and that is exactly what the gold coast is all about.

There have been so many incredible moments in your career, do any stand out as the most memorable?

There have been so many great moments and it changes every time I get a big exciting illustration campaign! Illustrating Wonder Woman for Smithsonian in the US, drawing lips to be animated for MAC Cosmetics Art Of The Lip campaign, and more recently collaborating on pitches with Netflix and Havaianas, have been highlights!

Every time I do a solo show in a new city is pretty special – I was invited to exhibit ‘Rainbow Warriors’ at VANDAL Sydney (exhibition is up until April), and a few years back I did a really big solo show called Rainbowspective in Paris. And getting to do an artist residency in Coney Island, NY has been a dream come true.

Your work is bold, bright and a little bit quirky, what inspires you to create art like this?

I think what I was saying earlier about growing up in grey rainy Britain and craving tropical colour is a big part of how it started. I’m really influenced by fashion and film, and I’m concerned with my work reflecting the cultural time and place we are at as a species.

You recently collaborated with Gold Coast brand, The Undercurrent, to design a t-shirt representing Surfers Paradise, what made you say yes to this opportunity?

One of the things I love and am most inspired by is hand made signage and vintage neon signs – so I jumped at the chance to look closer at the signage that Surfers Paradise had back in the 60s. I also loved the the tshirt would be a screenprint but using four colours – so I was able to vary my bright colour palette and use neon pink, aqua green, golden orange and bright purple!

You’ve also worked with international magazines and world famous fashion houses, how did it all come about?

I studied in Falmouth, which is at the most Western spot in the UK in Cornwall – and then moved to London upon graduation – in 2002 the internet was not nearly where it is now, and you really needed to be in the city to get established. I sort of fell into doing internships and commissioned work in the fashion sector – for Mary Portas’ fashion marketing agency Yellowdoor (I used to design window graphics for Sportsgirl and Sussan there!) and for POP Magazine and print design at Stella McCartney. Then I found an illustration agent and started freelancing. And the rest is history!

What do you have in the pipeline at the moment?

I’m working on a series called ‘Garbage Pail Politics’ – inspired by the 80s kids bubblegum stickers that were a spinoff of the Cabbage Patch Kids, which is focused on the insane political situation the world is in currently. ‘Impeach Trump’ and ‘Malcolm TurnBULL’ (featuring the PM in the guise of the Wall St bronze bull, money flying around him), are two of them. I will be exhibiting them at The Other Art Fair Melbourne in May and then at Illustrated 2017 London in June. Aside from that I just got a big painting commission in for a client in Sydney and I am about to begin working on my 2017 Archibald entry.

Your favourite piece of life advice?

Take your passion and make it happen

You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t…

Queued outside Peter’s Fish Market for fish and chips on a Saturday or Sunday morning. When I bring friends from the UK they are so excited to choose their own piece of fish and how it gets cooked! I love sitting outside on the dock to eat and watch the trawlers haul in the fresh catch whilst a pelican or two hang around for scraps.

Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask for your favourites…

Beach: I’m not a huge fan of big waves so I love to go for a swim at Currumbin.

Restaurant: I love BSKT at Nobby’s Beach for delicious healthy food and Madame Tojo’s in Southport for a boho setting and great cake – their wine and tapas nights are divine! I love Japanese and Korean food here – too many great choices to name! My local on Mt Tamborine is awesome.

Bar: This is harder as one of us tends to be driving here so dinner is our usual outing! I do love Black Coffee Lyrics for a coffee for the driver and cocktail for the drinker – plus there’s a great vintage shop called Arkive next door to try on things whilst you drink!

Coffee Shop: Very locally to me, I love Black Sheep Bistro in Oxenford – apparently the chef is formerly of Palazzo Versace and the food is awesome – plus there’s always a $10 menu to supplement the more expensive dishes. Great coffee too.