Interview with Sara Bloem

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Today’s interview is with Sara Bloem, who is a former student of mine, and a recent graduate of RISD. Sara and I are collaborating on my new book “Drawing Thoughts.” (a working title) I had the chance to sit down and chat with her last night about her new life as a young art professional, our collaboration, and her new work.

CL: You recently graduated from RISD this past spring, how has post graduation life been for you so far?

SB: It’s been good. I’ve found it to be a bit of a whirlwind. Things aren’t as predictable as they were in school. You really have no idea if anything is going to work until it does. That goes for apartment, moving, job, etc.

CL: You really never know until you try! What is your daily life like? How are you able to fit time in for your artwork?

SB: On a weekday I get up around 7:30am, make breakfast and lunch, and get on the subway for my 40 minute commute. Work is from 10am to 6pm, so the earliest I get back home is 6:45pm or so. I always cook when I get home because I eat PB&J for lunch (junior designer salary), so it’s not until 8pm that I’m usually done with that and have time to brainstorm. I have to go to sleep by 11:30 so I’m well-rested for work the next day.

CL: I guess those all-nighters from art school are gone for good.

SB: They really are. Things are so regular now, whereas in art school my schedule completely depended on what projects I had going on that week. Now I kind of have to structure my life around my job.

CL: Do you miss art school?

SB: I miss art school tremendously.

CL: In what way? What do you miss the most?

SB: I miss the fellow artists, and I miss having time to make work. Without other artists around you, being an artist can seem so crazy! No one around you understands that urge to make. And with regard to the latter – you have so much time to make in art school. It’s really amazing.

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CL: It certainly can very isolating after school; it’s such an abrupt change to go from being so overly saturated with creative people to almost nothing. Have you found ways to create your own artistic community?

SB: One of my housemates is a fellow 2013 RISD graduate and that helps a lot. I specifically wanted to live with someone from RISD and I’m so glad that my housemate understands me.

CL: Let’s talk about our collaboration on my next book, which has the working title “Drawing Thoughts.” I’m going to be documenting a series of drawings that you’re working on from start to finish, with you writing journal entries the whole way through. How do you feel about the project so far? I know you’ve just barely started.

SB: I love the opportunity to work with you on this book. It’s also an opportunity to be very vulnerable, which is a new experience.

CL: In what way do you feel vulnerable?

SB: Sharing my journal entries with a professor I respect, like you, can be pretty nerve-wracking. I’ve never kept a journal specifically related to art making. I guess I’ve realized that many of my thoughts while making sound totally neurotic. Even though I really enjoy the making process a lot.

CL: That certainly is a level of exposure that many artists never exhibit publicly.

SB: Art is very personal to begin with, and then documenting the mental journey is more personal still. I think, professionally, most fine artists try to keep their personal life out when they present their work, and it feels very bold to go in the opposite direction.

CL: I’m hoping that this is what will make the book unique, that it will document all of the emotional trials and tribulations of the artistic process. Art history books never get into that.

SB: Yes, that’s what makes the premise so great. It’s intense.

CL: I’m very excited to work with you in this capacity. It’s amazing what we went through together at RISD, having you in your first semester as a freshman, being my teaching assistant for three semesters, and then doing the independent study in your final semester. That independent study seems like it’s the perfect segue into this book project. Are you thinking of essentially picking up from where you left off?

SB: I’m incredibly excited too. I do want to pick up from where I left off. I don’t want to necessarily stylistically match the pieces I made last semester, the forms will develop from my artistic research.

But in terms of content, I think there are themes that I worked on with you in my very first semester of RISD that will be making an appearance again.

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CL: Isn’t that amazing how ideas can emerge again many years later?

SB: It’s the best. It feels like you’re getting to know yourself, at last.

CL: What kind of themes were you working with during your freshman year?

SB: Family and how family intersects with foreign cultures; how cultures and families come together and pull apart.

CL: Lastly, what advice would you give to current art school students?

SB: Don’t worry about doing things the “right” way while you’re in school. Pursue what fascinates you. Don’t be afraid to forge your own path. A lot of my friends – even from other departments – felt pressure while they were in school, like they weren’t “Industrial Design-y” enough for the Industrial Design department or something like that. Outside of school those boundaries have no meaning, so don’t waste time on trying to be correct.

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