Name: Sara Jean-Baptiste, also known as "Artistic Remedy"
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Bio: Sara Jean-Baptiste was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1991. She was raised in Brooklyn and graduated with a degree in Illustration from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in 2012. Sara considered her focus illustrative painting, as she works as an illustrator and fine artist and uses a variety of mediums. Sara has continued to pursue her career as an illustrative painter taking on freelance illustration projects, live painting and developing fine artwork. She has worked with clients including Budweiser and Shondaland.com. She has upheld a position as a paint assistant and colorist for Jeff Koons Studio. Sara’s paintings have been exhibited in local group shows including a collaborative art exhibit during Art Basel Miami in 2017.
Describe your experience as a current full-time artist.
While I have always wanted to work in the field directly for a while, there came the opportunity to give myself a chance to see what I can do independently, so took it and have been working full-time ever since. I know that it’s been my destiny to be an artist, so I’ve been focusing on how to make myself as resourceful now that I’m full-time.
How did attending FIT prepare you to pursue your own business and career?
When I first started FIT, I knew I wanted to learn more about drawing and illustration in a way that would lead to me getting client work. So when I saw that they had a fashion illustration concentration, I went in that direction and it gave me the basics of stylizing my work to be commercial.
I fell in love with painting the “essence” of a subject in a way that was marketable and that style has stuck with me in my fine art paintings as well. I got my first post-grad opportunity working as an in-house graphic designer where I learned about business by being hands on. I felt like I learned more about business from being “in the field”, because everything is different with clients in real situations, as each will bring their own demands. In school, you can take practice, but in the field you adapt.
How did working as a paint assistant influence the artist and business woman you are today? What was the most valuable gem/lesson learned during this time?
I started freelancing while in school and after graduating, I had to balance that while working full time as a graphic designer, then as an art store associate and even as a paint assistant. So I felt like I had been used to pushing myself to have opportunities in the works while working for an organization. Once I transitioned into working as a paint assistant, I could focus on my ideas as there were systems that were already in place in the company.
It gave me a bigger understanding on what it’s like to have a system behind your the production of your “product”. Without a system, you will constantly experiment, but systems give structure. I got to see how much time it took to produce HQ work, you sit with it, you revise and adjust. You don’t just throw out anything. You take it serious, but learn to separate yourself from it, so you can have a life outside of it. It’s a blessing to give other people the opportunity to make opportunities for themselves— that is power. It is important to balance your needs, so you don’t burnout.
Describe your experience stepping into your own light and purpose as an artist.
I’m grateful that my family has given me the support to choose my path. Starting out studying illustration, I always wanted to do both fine art and illustration simultaneously and I’ve been able to do both by putting out work related to both fields. I would like to do develop opportunities for community impact, including teaching to beginner Artists, especially youth. As art is an isolating practice, I want to build a community around my opportunity to create.
Also, going full-time has turned the microscope on my own true motives. Once you put yourself out there, everything is a boomerang. What you look for in other people you were once inspired by, you need to feed in yourself to make an impact. So there’s been a desire to become more well rounded, to challenge what I’m doing, to keep being excited.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration while pursing your business full-time?
This is an ongoing process. Learning habits of balance are critical. I grew up as a very active person, and take fitness very seriously. I’m a gym rat, so I spend a lot of time blowing off steam. Taking boxing, dance classes, strength training— It’s my way of getting out of my head. I found that focusing on my physical and mental health should be priority for anybody, but creatives need to really stay on top of themselves in this area. I’ve also been seeing a therapist since I went full-time. It’s good to have someone who is unbiased to bounce your concerns off of. I love traveling and seeing new things, this keeps you small in your mind and let’s you grow into the bigger picture of the world that’s out there!
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP who is interested in pursuing art full-time?
The more you show up for yourself and your dreams, the faster your business will grow. I have burned out by stopping before some opportunities have presented themselves and felt unprepared for them, so it’s important to have things lined up to keep yourself active and in an environment where you can challenge yourself. Doubt will be there, but action keeps you going. As someone who didn’t find mentorship early, I had to do a lot of trail and error. I would recommend surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you. Although planning is important, In the beginning, taking risks open you up to opportunities that can lead to plans. Sometimes you don’t know if you like something unless you are in it, so experiment and make yourself well rounded so you can stay in business!
I was watching an interview where Kerry James Marshall said “It’s one thing to stand by and admire the work of other people, the moment that I recognize the greatness of those things it’s unacceptable for me to not also try to match the sophistication and complexity and appeal if those works, but doing it with images that have people who look like me in them.” It’s important to stop consuming so much of what others are doing so you can have your own narrative, and you know that you are acting with integrity as you work.
What is next for you?
I’m working on new pieces and some future events. I have a painting in the “Black to the Future” exhibition that will be taking place at the National Black Theatre in New York which will be on view from February through this April.
What does being a "black girl who paints" mean to you?
Being a “black girl who paints” means expect the unexpected. The perspective of a black girl has yet to saturate the fine art and illustration industry. To me it means showing the different facets of my culture and outlook through my work. It means I have responsibility to be a voice and not an echo. It means not following and leading. It means, paving the way for other “black girls who paint”.