Meet Sarah English, AKA Pattern State. She’s a fashion forward DENY Artist that is a master and lover of the repeat pattern.
Sarah English is Pattern State. With a background in painting, she works by day in the fashion industry and creates her custom patterns by night. Sarah lives in Texas where she draws from many inspirations and considers herself lucky to pursue her love of art, pattern and design. She loves the hand drawn line, gets a bit nostalgic, delights in the odd and can’t wait to watch it all repeat together in a super cool pattern. Read below as we get to know Sara English in a fun Q&A and get the tour of her home and studio!
Hey Sarah! First, let’s start with the basics. Describe your style in 5 words.
Love it! What experiences helped form your artistic style today?
I come from a family of artists, seeing my uncle and aunts create really inspired me and made me feel like creating was actually something I could do for the rest of my life. Going to graduate school to get my MFA was the best decision I ever made. The program pushed me as a person and pushed my work. I learned there how to find and continually search for who I am as an artist and attempt to define that. It’s something I’m constantly seeking and graduate school helped teach me to work hard….really hard…to just make. After graduate school I was part of an artist-run gallery in Dallas called 500X Gallery. That experience and the artists I worked with there really shaped me. When you’re around other people doing amazing things, you want to be amazing with them. I don’t paint as much as I used to as my attention has turned more to creating patterns and prints. But I’m always hungry and always pushing and evolving.
How has your style evolved over the years?
My style has changed as my life and family have changed. Any home I’ve lived in has to be very functional and not feel like a museum. My style changed when I got married and blended both of our tastes. It changed again when I incorporated kids into our home. Toys came out and all my decor moved up out of reach. We’re constantly evolving as our needs change. Plus it gives me an excuse to keep updating everything, which I love to do! We’re actually in the process of moving right now into a new home, an old house built in the 60’s. I’m so excited to see how our style will change once we get settled. I’m currently laying awake every night dreaming of what to do with the new space. Best part…a room in the back with a wall of windows for a new studio space!
Oh that’s so exciting! We always love a chance to decorate a new space. If you’re running low on creative inspiration, what’s your remedy?
I wish I lived in a place where I said I went and took a hike in the mountains or sat on the beach and stared at the ocean. But in Dallas that’s just not an option. I’ve got to be creative in finding creative inspiration! I really do find so much inspiration from traveling. But day to day…I have to get out. I have to leave the space I’m in and go do something different. Sometimes I go shop…because we have no shortage of shopping in Dallas. I like to see what’s in stores, I like to look for trending colors. Sometimes I go to a museum or out to the galleries. Sometimes I just go sit in the park and people watch. I feel like I can find inspiration anywhere, even if I do the smallest thing to make my day different and unique from the day-to-day routine that it’s so easy to get stuck in. I find the best inspiration when I can go out alone and let my mind wonder. I write a lot.
What a great way to get inspired! Changing up routine is a great way to stay aware and inspired. Tell us about the story behind one of the designs you have on DENY.
If I wanted to bore everyone I could sit down and talk about every single piece. The Arrow Dawn and Arrow Night designs came after a trip to Europe. Traveling itself invigorates me. But I saw so many patterns everywhere. I came back and started drawing a lot of the shapes I had seen. I liked how the lines looked different once I drew them and layered them. In the end, the finished designs took on a much a more southwest kind of feel. For me the designs became this kind of mash-up of motifs that came from my Texas roots and my European travels.
We love that! If you had to choose a piece of your own artwork and build a room around it, which piece would you choose and how would the space look?
What a question! I’m actually asking myself this every single day as we prep to move. At the moment I’m thinking about the large red and silver painting I have hanging above my couch. It was done by my friend, Jim Burton, when we were in graduate school. His studio was next door to mine and I actually got to see him create this piece through the whole process. We did a painting trade…which is how I’ve gotten a lot of the art in my home. It’s a great thing when you have a lot of friends who are amazingly talented artists! The painting is so bold and strong. I’m thinking of how it will work in a smaller room? I go back and forth with keeping all the furnishings around it totally neutral…grays, black,and white. Or, just really going for it and putting it above a bright colored orange couch and doing a color overload in the room. You’ll have to check back with me in a few months and see the final verdict! Either way, I know there will be lots of pattern in the room.
We can’t wait to see what you do with your new home! Especially if you go with a bold orange couch. Speaking of your home, you have so many great treasures and finds in your current space! Tell us the story behind a few of your favorites.
So nice of you to say “treasures”! I often feel the hoarder in me bubbling up when it comes to decor in my home. I like to think of a lot of the pieces in my home as collections. We have a lot of art, vintage pieces, and family items. Almost every piece reminds me of something. I hope friends get a sense of who we are as a family when they come into our home. A feeling of comfort but also personality, with a dose of nerd thrown into the mix. I tend to have an emotional connection to a lot of objects…see there it is…hoarder alert! I’ve been collecting bluebirds over the last few years. My son was born with these amazing blue eyes. I have a blue bird tattoo on my shoulder for him. Friends started giving me little blue bird figures when they would find them and it’s stuck with me. I also love the old first aid kit we have hanging. I found it at an antique shop in Austin. My husband is in medical school, so we’ve always got our eye out for cool medical items. I would love to have a library one day with old medical posters hanging.
We say when collecting is intentional, it’s not hoarding. 🙂 We love your gallery wall. Can you describe some of those pieces?
It’s quite the mix. I’m sure you notice the DENY Designs wall letter E in my butterfly print. That was a happy package to get in the mail! The wall is a mix of art pieces from friends, prints we’ve bought, and some of my own work. The painting of the house is one my uncle, Jack Maxwell, did. It’s the old Texas home of my great grandmother. The smaller paintings on the wall that have a lot of color and pattern are mine. I used to have a minor animal obsession in my paintings…lots of birds, deers, and cows. I’m really drawn to prints where I feel like designers have created something really clever, especially out of a theme you’ve seen a lot of. For example the Kamino and Bespin posters from Star Wars, designed by Justin Van Genderen. Or all of the Game of Thrones sigils designed by Darrin Crescenzi. Sometimes I’m really drawn to minimalism in design, because I find it so difficult to do myself. And I love looking at the photograph I took of Prada Marfa. It’s not a great photograph in itself, but I love being reminded that I got to go see it.
What is your most cherished home accent piece and why?
My most cherished pieces are ones from my family. I have a few pieces from my grandmother’s house that I remember always staring at when I was a kid. Like her brass candlesticks. The old “phone” sign I found while rummaging in the back of her garage. I think it’s so cool.
In your craftiest of adventures, tell us about your greatest Pinterest success and/or fail.
Confession: craftiness is not my strong suit, like I kind of hate it. I could paint all day but ask me to decoupage something and forget it, I’m terrible! Thanks to Pinterest, I was inspired to learn to sew. I kept seeing all these great projects I wanted to try. A couple summers ago I bit the bullet, I got a sewing machine and took classes. The last Pinterest project I did was sewing DIY burp cloths using some of the fabrics I designed. Let’s just say that I don’t do well making straight lines and I’m really thankful they’re only going to be used for babies to throw up on! Lucky for me I have great friends receiving these burp cloths that let me get away with “its the thought that counts!”
Thanks! Pairing the toile and the triangle pattern is a great example of how I like to mix patterns. I designed this Toile print specifically with my son in mind. He and I sat down together and I started drawing all of his favorite things. A lot of times when I work it’s very solitary. It was cool to be able to let him be a part of it. I get excited when it works to take a traditional pattern and reinvent it. Designer Dan Funderburgh is the master of this. In this case, I gave the toile a kid spin. I think it’s really fun. The curtains are an Alexander Girard print….what an amazing textile designer!
What’s the story behind the three nails on the wall?
Last summer my friend, fellow artist and designer, Jen Gassiraro, and I took a trip to Marfa. It was amazing. AMAZING. I had been drawn to Marfa for forever, really obsessed with it. And the experience of traveling there and being in the space was even more than I had hoped for. What an inspirational trip! I designed so much work after coming back. Everyone…GO TO MARFA! We spent a lot of time roaming and discovering the landscape, just getting lost along the road. At one point we pulled over and hadn’t seen another car or person for miles. I walked along a railroad track and picked up a lot of these old railroad spikes. I brought a few back and keep them out to remind me of that space.
Let’s all go to Marfa! If you had a day to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
I would want to drive to the airport in the morning. Hop on a random flight. Spend the afternoon exploring a new place and finding my way with no plans. Then come back on the last flight out.
Describe one thing not many people know about you.
I don’t like to call and order pizza over the phone. I’m really glad we have the internet and online ordering.
What would we find if we looked in your refrigerator right now?
Please don’t! A lot of leftover pizza and kid juice boxes. Lets pretend I said organic fruits and vegetables that I picked up at the local farmers market.
Ha! Deal. Tell us an interesting/fun fact you recently learned about anything in particular.
Ok, here is a history fact that blows my mind: The years Cleopatra lived are closer to our present time than the construction of the pyramids.
Wow! If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional…with whom would that be?
I feel like you’re wanting a really design inspired response here, but if I’m keeping it real….I’m totally TV obsessed. I definitely want to be Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones…I mean that hair, and she gets to be the “Mother of Dragons.” Or Claire Underwood in House of Cards…she is so bad, she’s good…and really I just want her wardrobe!
Totally great answer! Do you always create on the floor? It looks so laid back and comfy!
Most of the time I do. I like having all the space to spread out and see what I’m working on. Plus I like to move around a lot when I draw.
Tell us about the inspiration wall in your studio!
I LOVE this wall. It’s always changing. I just pin up anything I think is cool. I look at this wall every single day, even if it’s just in passing. It keeps my ideas fresh and somehow I see something new every time I look at the wall. My favorite part is when I get to pull down the “old” ideas or ones I feel like I’ve already worked through and pin up some new inspiration. Every time, I feel like I’m about to embark on a new discovery that’s going to take me somewhere awesome.
Where do you see yourself as an artist in 5 years?
I wish I could flash forward in time 5 years and see what my designs look like. I hope I would blow myself away and not believe I was able to create the designs I see. I want to see my work on more products, more places. I fantasize about walking into someone’s home I don’t know, or seeing a pic on a blog and finding one of my prints at home in someone else’s space. That would be a thrill! I want more and more of that in the next 5 years. As an artist I want to be painting more and more. In 5 years, I want to be working in my studio covered in paint.
We love hearing stories behind the art. Tell us another.
One day, when I learn to sew a straight line and decide to take on the challenge, I’m going to make a quilt. I have a great friend, and former college roommate, who quilts. I was always fascinated with her process and patience. She actually took me to my first quilt show which opened up the world of fabric and surface design to me. I had never seen quilts as art before she showed me. My design “Nomad Quilt” is an homage to that, until I do the real thing!
What is one of your favorite quotes?
“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” Tina Fey, Bossypants
Why do you love DENY?
I love the opportunity DENY has given me as an independent artist. To see my designs on such a wide variety of products is a huge thrill., I mean HUGE. A designer’s work is meant to be shared, that’s the whole point. And DENY gives me a way to share the work on a platform far larger than I could ever do on my own. And as a bonus, to see the work of so many other talented artists and designers is super inspirational. I love how the DENY collection is always growing. DENY makes me want to keep creating more!
Thank you, Sarah! We loved our chat and getting to know your awesome creative process and life. We’re so happy you’re a part of the DENY Artist Family!