Sara McCandless

Sara McCandless

An interview with illustrator & cheeky printmaker, Sara McCandless

Q: Tell us a bit about who you are, where you grew up, and your background as an illustrator!

A: I’m an illustrator/printmaker in Knoxville, TN. I grew up in the small mountain town of Manitou Springs, Colorado, and graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a BFA in illustration in 2020.

Q: How has Appalachia inspired your work & what is your favorite part of living in Knoxville?

A: Groundhogs, Dollywood, and delicious cornbread were all things that I hadn’t experienced before I moved to Knoxville in 2015 - all equally life changing experiences! I love so much about East TN, but I’m especially inspired by the smoky mountains, food, and wildlife.

Q: What are some consistent themes in your work that you like to play with, and what do you hope resonates with the viewer?

A: Humor is for sure my most consistent theme - I hope to make people laugh! My goal is to create small moments of joy that people can carry with them and create connections with others over, which is why I like to attach my designs to ‘gift’ products. However, my more selfish goal is to create work that results in people showing me photos of their pets when I’m selling at a market.

Q: What does a typical day of creating look like for you?

A: It varies! I screenprint everything in my home studio, and some days are entirely focused on printing and packing orders since I mostly sell to retailers. Days where I’m designing new work though, I’ll usually be curled up on the couch with my stinky cat Miss Scragglebelle in my lap as I draw.

Q: When did you begin to focus on art as a career & what are your goals going forward?

A: I opened up my online store with just a few stickers in October 2022 after doing only client work post-grad, and over the next year I ended up falling completely in love with screen-printing as a craft. I started doing in person markets in 2023, and it was just so fun to connect with all sorts of super kind people that were laughing at my goofy designs and telling me about their pets, or about who in their life my stuff would be the perfect gift for. I started selling wholesale shortly after that, and now hope to just keep expanding products and designs, and do more markets across the south east.

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