Sarah B. Seiter is a fantasy artist and doll sculptor. She resides in Utah with her husband, three young children, and two guinea pigs. Sarah offers her dolls and art for sale to the public through her business, The Mushroom Peddler (http://www.themushroompeddler.com/ ) which she opened in 2010. Prior to that time she sold her art as a freelance artist from 2000-2010. Deirdra:What made you decide to become an artist?
Sarah:I decided I was going to be an artist when I was very young. I was around 5 when I first recall admiring my aunt’s art (she draws fairies and mermaids a lot). I wanted so badly to be able to draw like her. I was often frustrated that my hands couldn’t seem to draw what I pictured in my mind, but my mother told me to keep going and I would eventually get there. She reminded me that my aunt (who was around 30 at the time) had several years of practice that I didn’t. That kept me working hard. I decided to become a doll artist later (around age 20) and have finally found my own style in that area. Deirdra:What kind of special training did you receive to help you in your art career?
Sarah:I was home schooled by my mother from 2nd grade up. As soon as I finished my school work and chores each day, the rest of the time was mostly my own. I spent the majority of that time drawing, sewing, and sculpting things. I didn’t have much of a social life then outside of my family (3 sisters) and cousins, but I did have a lot of time to practice doing things I love. I have taken a few community classes along the way, but I am mostly self-taught.
Deirdra:Is there anyone who has inspired or influenced you in your career?
Sarah: Again my aunt was my biggest influence. Seeing her art as I grew up, along with Disney animated films, gave me a strong pull toward fantasy. I also felt very drawn toward sculpture and wished to be able to sculpt fantasy figures, but didn’t know quite where to start with that other than the small figurines I made from clay. When I was a teen my family moved to a new house which happened to be next door to a professional sculptor who worked in clay and bronze to create life-size statues. His work was also a great influence in my desire to sculpt.
Deirdra:What is the most exciting thing that has happened in your career?
Sarah:I have entered many contests and art shows and it is always exciting to win a ribbon or cash prize, but probably my most exciting was a contest I entered around 2001 where a company was looking for a mascot and gave a description for people to draw. I drew the character they described and when judging was over I had won $1000. I was really pleased and excited about that you can imagine I am sure :)
Deirdra: Did you get discouraged along the way? How did you deal with it?
Sarah:I had more struggles with discouragement when I was younger and I didn’t feel like my art and sculpture were up to the standards I expected from myself. I just kept reminding myself of my mother’s words that if I gave up, I would never reach my goal. I finally drew something that was very close to what I had imagined when I was 18 and it really made me happy, but even now I still have times when my hands and mind don’t work together very well. I usually deal with these “artistic blocks” by taking some time off and focusing on some of my other interests until it is past.
Deirdra:What is your favorite median to work in?
Sarah: For art I love to work with watercolor and then finish details with colored pencils. I feel it gives a depth and color to the work that I couldn’t seem to achieve with other mediums. I also love sculpting and have now created a business around my art and sculpture. I decided that the best way to apply my skill and interest in sculpting and sewing is by creating dolls. I began customizing dolls like Barbie to sell on eBay back around 2000 when I saw some other people had done sell for hundreds of dollars. I knew I could do that too so I did and it helped my family to get through some difficult financial times. Later I discovered ball-jointed dolls which have now become quite popular. I began customizing them and eventually decided it was time to sculpt my own. I create the original in clay, then make silicone molds and cast the final doll in poly-urethane resin.
Deirdra: Do you do freelance work?
Sarah:Most of the art and sculpture I do is for myself. Then I duplicate it through prints or cast dolls so I can share the things I love with others as well as help to support my family financially. I do occasionally take commissions though depending on my time commitments and what is requested.
Deirdra:What is your favorite subject or genre to work with?
Sarah:Fantasy such as fairies and mermaids, elves, dragons, wizards, and the like are by far my favorite subject. Always have been and probably always will be :) I love that with fantasy so can create anything and it is ok even if it doesn’t look like a known creature because it is your own world and no one can tell you it is wrong. I am always amused when I draw something like a mermaid and someone asks “Did you use a live reference for that?” I am always tempted to say “Yep, I keep a mermaid in my bathtub.” lol
Deirdra:Are you an independent artist or do you work with a company?
Sarah: I am both. I do work as an independent artist and have done it that way for many years, but last year I registered a business name “Mushroom Peddler Creations LLC” and officially made it into a business. Currently the business in focused mainly on the dolls I sculpt. I work full time at a workshop I am renting since my home was being overrun by supplies and also I didn’t want my children exposed to the fumes from the resin I pour while creating my dolls.
Sarah:I think the best part is when all the hard work is done and you have a beautiful thing that you can look at and say “I did that!” It is a great feeling. The other best part is being able to support my family doing something I love.
Deirdra:Who are your top five favorite artists?
Sarah: 1. My aunt of course is my first favorite. Her name is Ina Jane Harvey and she created some fantasy coloring books when I was about 13. I attribute much of my skill to the hours spent coloring copies of the line art she drew over and over. Now she offers them for everyone to enjoy. Her website is www.worldsbestcoloringbooks.com(she has free samples there that can be downloaded)
3. Third is a doll artist, Kaye Wiggs, who is also a sculptor who started out making a few dolls and now has a business around her dolls. I loved them when she first started making them and still do. She is very inspiring. http://www.kazekidz.com/
4. Another doll artist I admire id Lidia Snul. She works in clay and casts in porcelain. Her dolls are beautiful and unique. http://bjtales.wordpress.com/
Deirdra: Is there anything you do to get into the mood to create art? (i.e. listen to music, take a nap, etc?)
Sarah:I watch (or listen to) movies while I create whenever I can. For some reason having my mind engaged with a movie seems to help my creativity flow more smoothly. Maybe it is because I stress less about what I am doing and just do it.
Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about your job?
Sarah: Making molds for my dolls is very tricky as well as making sure that the parts don’t have bubbles when I pour the resin. Drilling the pathways in the doll parts for the elastic which holds them together is quite hard on my hands as well.
Deirdra:What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a professional artist as a career?
Sarah: Don’t give up. Confidence in what you do and a love for what you are creating is very important if you want to move forward with art as a career. It is not an easy market to get into, but a very rewarding one when you do.
Deirdra: Any final words you'd like to share?
Sarah: Always follow your dreams and don’t let discouraging words or setbacks make you give up. Mistakes are inevitable along the way, but really, they are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them. I like to think of mistakes and setbacks as learning experiences. If you don’t allow yourself to give up and instead go forward no matter what toward your goal, you will make your dreams become reality.