A note from the editor: Welcome to a new series here on Oh My! Handmade where makers visit us to share their work and stories in their own words. I loved our Meeting the Makers theme so much I decided to make it a regular feature here on Sundays. I am excited to showcase the work of the incredibly talented illustrator Sasha Prood. Her work is lush and gorgeous, the attention to detail and technique in each of her pieces is inspiring and her talent is off the charts, enjoy!
Sasha Prood is an illustrator based in New York City. She creates typography, illustrations, patterns and graphics using pencil, pen and watercolor with the computer. Thematically, her work leans toward the organic, natural and scientific with vintage, utilitarian and childhood influences, creating anything from logos to posters to apparel graphics. Her work can be viewed on her website, sashaprood.com. Sasha’s longtime friend and fellow NYC-based designer, Alia Hassan, interviews her below.
How did you become interested in art, design and illustration?
My interest in art was not something that I was ever really conscious of—it was always just “there.” I have drawn pictures for as long as I can remember. When I applied to college, I selected design as my major. At the time I did not really understand what design meant, but it seemed like the most artistic career that I could pursue while still being marketable in “the real world.” As I learned more about design at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Design and during the semester I studied abroad at Switzerland’s Schule für Gestaltung in St. Gallen, I grew to appreciate the expressive potential of design and realized that it was a great fit for me.
With regard to illustration, though I dabbled in the form at pre-college programs, I did not truly understand its range during my time at Carnegie Mellon. It was only after two years of working as a graphic designer that I realized that I wanted to incorporate my art back into my everyday work and that illustration could be my way of doing this. I have worked to develop myself as an illustrator for the past two years, and it is now my full-time job. As of next fall, I will be attending Cooper Union’s postgraduate typeface design certificate program, Type@Cooper.
Sounds likes you’ve been exposed to various arts disciplines through quite a few reputable institutions, and have chosen to continue this by attending Type@Cooper. Your design and illustration style is quite organic and has a lot of personality. Do you believe your structured arts education has shaped the illustrator you are today? How so?
Absolutely—I feel that my formal design training was the solid base that I could then build of off. That knowledge of composition, typography, etc. helps to ground my current, more expressive artistic experiments.
Where do you find inspiration?
It might sound a little cheesy, but I find inspiration everywhere. I love the organization and sense of simplicity found in geometry. I find science to be inspirational, particularly biology—cells, molecules, etc. I have included animals, vegetables and minerals—anything natural and organic – into much of my work. Things from childhood are also inspirational to me, particularly items with a sense of play and humor. I’m attracted to vintage items, especially ones that are typographic in nature. Everyday “mundane” things that are basic and utilitarian as well as anything hand-made—particularly cultural items such as textiles, ceramics, basket weaving, etc. are inspirational to me. I’m interested in aspects of black magic and ritual. And on and on!
What do you like most about being an illustrator? What do you like least, and how do you combat that?
As a freelance illustrator, I most like the freedom and control—to be able to choose which projects I take on and to manage my own time. I least like the slow times—I’m at my best when busy. To avoid the slow times, I make sure to always be working on some promotional pieces and self-initiated projects. That way there is always something to do!
What would be your dream project?
I have several “dream projects.” One would be to create a fully illustrated book. I’m also anxious to work on patterns and graphics in collaboration with a fashion house for a seasonal collection. My long-term goal is to create a group of work to be displayed in a solo art show.
I searched “Sasha Prood” online, and found that a popular word online commentators use to describe your work is “detail.” What are your thoughts on that?
I love it! I put a lot of care into the details and absolutely appreciate that people notice.
The way your work is presented on your website is beautiful and compelling. Can you talk about how you choose to present your work?
Thanks so much! When designing my current website I thought about the problems of my old websites along with pluses and minuses of other people’s portfolio websites. I wanted my website to be easy to update, the images of my art to be the main focus and presented in a large format, to subtly bring my personality into the design and to not have too many pages/buttons to click through (I personally hate clicking through too much stuff on a website).
How have you dealt with that tricky balance between art and business—doing what you love and believe in, but in a way that allows you to make a living out of it?
I love to create art, but it moves into a whole new realm when money, contracts, copyrights, etc. are added to the equation. Balancing art and business has been something that I have dealt with day-by-day and situation-by-situation. Since I’m still somewhat new to the world of business, almost every situation that I have encountered has been for the first time. I handle this by preparing myself as much as possible by talking to people with more experience and doing as much research as I can. When a problem comes up that I’m not prepared for, I try to handle the situation as professionally as possible and learn how to avoid it in the future. Honestly, my passion for the art is what helps me to get through the business aspects of my job.
You’re based in Brooklyn, New York. What do you like most about living in NYC, and what do you dislike?
I dislike the tourist traps and the crazy people that you often find yourself forced into small crowded spaces with. I love the immediate access to amazing food, museums, shops, etc.
I’m a huge fan of your work and love that I can stay informed about what you’re working on on your regularly updated site, sashaprood.com. Where can we buy some pieces?
You can buy a curated selection of my handcrafted items at my personal web shop, the Print Shop. My Botanica Caps Poster is available at Arty People and my Botanica Caps (non-keyable) font is available at HandMadeFont. Also, in early November, one of my watercolor patterns Chevron Repeat, is going to be sold as a limited edition print at The Working Proof .
Thank you Sasha and Alia for this insightful, creative and educational interview. I hope our readers love learning about you and your work as much as I have!