“Maybe the greatest madness is to see life as it is, rather than as it could be.”
– Miguel de Cevantes, Don Quijote de La Mancha
Hi, I'm Sara.
I’m an artist, business owner, marketing professional, devourer of all things science fiction and fantasy, and secret delighter in the weird and macabre. But first and foremost, I am a lover of the arts and a champion for artists of all kinds.
I was imaginative, quiet and sensitive when I was growing up, and although my parents supported my choice to attend a high school devoted to the arts, I quickly learned that they didn’t really love the idea of me trying to make art into a career. Sure, singing is lovely and drawing is a nice hobby, but those aren’t “real jobs.”
But I was a dreamer of dreams. I wanted to work with Jim Henson Studios, Tim Burton or Lucasfilm. I imagined myself designing fantastical creatures and magical lands. I shared this dream and instead was told that it was one in a million artists who actually “made it,” whatever that meant. Why couldn’t I be one in a million? Impossible, they said. Ultimately, my resolve broke down and my heart began to believe them. Just like Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
With a visual arts major off the table, I sunk into a deep depression and dropped out of college. I tried getting a regular job and worked in manufacturing for awhile. I spent a few years on the night shift in a plastic injection molding factory, then moved on to quality control in metal machining. It paid the rent but I was isolated and directionless.
Eventually, after a few job changes, I saved up money and began stockpiling vacation days so I could set off for distant lands. I trekked to prayer-flag draped stupas in the Himalayas of Nepal, touched the Stone of the Last Unction in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Israel, spent a moment alone in the cool quiet of the King’s Chamber inside The Great Pyramid of Egypt, and roamed the corridors of the Taj Mahal in India. I listened to the stories of the people I met, immersed myself in the rich sensations of these foreign (to me) lands. Each time I stepped off the plane into a new adventure, it was like hitting the reset button in my mind. With only the next day’s experiences to consider, my heart would be fed, my depression would lift and I would come back home refreshed and excited about life for another year.
I moved cross-country to Kansas City, on yet another (less exotic) adventure and in 2004, I took my first stab at running my own business. I founded 21Doors, a small design consultancy specializing in graphics, branding, web development, and image editing. This little effort flourished until the recession hit taking a lot of small businesses down, including mine.
Finally after relocating again – first to Oakland and then Sacramento, California – I landed a job at a growing digital agency where I rapidly rose through the ranks from Marketing Associate, to UX Design Manager, to Director of Marketing. I honed my UX design, user research and conversion optimization chops. I also strengthened my business sense and further deepened my understanding of marketing thought and practice. From working with big national brands to fast-paced tech startups, to marketing the agency itself, I gained a robust set of skills.
Although I was succeeding on paper, getting promotions, raises, and some visibility in the industry, I was slowly fading. I loved promoting, supporting and building up the people I believed in but working with corporate brands just didn’t feed my spirit. Something was very, very wrong. I had lost my connection to other people, to life, to myself, to my art. I was working all the time but the joy had left me. I stopped having adventures, stopped traveling, stopped painting, stopped drawing, stopped looking forward to the future.
Then serendipitously, I discovered the works of the talented musician and actor, Reeve Carney. Who would’ve thought that YouTube could be a vehicle for epiphany? Well, inspiration comes from unexpected places sometimes. You see, Reeve isn’t just a musician or entertainer. There’s a current he’s tapping into – a connectedness to something larger. When he’s performing, the separation between vocal chords, hands, feet, musical instruments, and the music itself cease to exist. The listener is taken on a journey and the impact is nothing short of transformative.
While watching that video of Reeve doing what he does, suddenly I remembered. I remembered what that felt like – what it feels like to BE the music, to be fully connected and immersed in the flow of creating, expanding, surrendering – doing what you’re here to do. It is exhilarating and electric, yet the most natural and centered feeling in the world. I wanted it back. I wanted to feel that again. In that fraction of a moment, the call that I heard as a kid, the song I had stuffed down, ignored, belittled and abandoned, hit me like a mack truck to the face. It was loud as the sea and quiet as a whisper and I could ignore it no longer.
As artists, we never know how our work will affect others once we share it with the world. We can only be true to our passions and send our work out with the hope that we will inspire, change, activate, remind, or stir some thought or reflection into being. That is what I strive for now and these are the values I live by:
1. Compassion first and always – be gentle with others and self.
2. Live passionately and adventurously.
3. Believe in the impossible – be a bringer of magic and delight.
4. Play, love, laugh, sing and express to connect and create community.
5. Always leave people, places & things in a better state than how they were found and encourage others to do the same.
In addition to continuing to grow and push myself as an artist, my mission is to pay all of this lovely transformation forward by empowering other artists of all kinds to embrace their art form as a business opportunity. To break through the clutter and help their works be experienced by larger audiences while staying true to themselves and their art. When you follow your talents and live passionately, not only will you create a blissful life for yourself, but you will inspire and activate that same sleeping spark in others.
However impossible it may seem, you can build a passionate and lucrative life doing what you love. With belief, hard work, and perhaps a little help, you can be a master of the impossible arts.