There is one illustrator who has resounded in my head since the first time I attended the Pick Me Up exhibition at Somerset House. It was 2012, and Sarah Beetson wasn’t exactly unknown in the industry, but she was unknown to me.
Graduating just over ten years ago, Sarah had a speedy start to her career. Gaining two mammoth commissions, as well as receiving the Pentland Prize for Fine Art, Sarah, she worked in fashion as a graphic designer and illustrator; styling celebrities and popstars for shoots. She then went on to work as a freelance illustrator, obtaining a very impressive client list, and conquering exhibitions on an international scale.
She was a deserved member of Pick Me Up Selects, a small group of professional illustrators that have impressed and stunned over the previous twelve months. While most of the other Selects used neutral washes of ink and black tonal markings, Sarah’s portraits stood out from the rest with her use of neon paint, glitter, and an acid coloured palette. As I wondered through the delightful display at Somerset House, I actually noticed Sarah in the flesh, sitting by a desk, surrounded by tiny fluorescent pots, and lots of scattered sketchbooks. I couldn’t help but think her flamboyant attire was an extension of her own illustrative style. Rather heart-warming if you ask me.
In her exhibition, two unconventional (yet beautiful) portraits stood out. The first was of a lady who shook the world of music, but who has sadly passed away; Amy Winehouse. Being a huge fan of Winehouse myself, this portrait stood out for me because, rather than depicting her as a vulnerable and tormented, Sarah illustrated her with spirit and attitude. The second of the two portraits was of, quite simply, a call girl. The touch of sex and controversy in this portrait is actually rather beautiful, not to mention the sophisticated use of mark-making that brings together this piece, which shows an elegant female form.
Her work has left a clueless creative such as myself, truly inspired.