Sarah Abbott’s Green Thumb


Photo of illustrator Sarah Abbott in her home studio with her dog

Sarah Abbott is an illustrator and designer based in the UK. Her nature-inspired work leaves us feeling refreshed and invigorated with the use of clean lines and beautifully balanced colours. Like many of our featured artists Abbott works from home in a sunlit studio where she has illustrated for companies like Ikea and Etsy.

For more on Abbott’s process and inspirations, read the full interview below. We’ll be mailing a surprise art print by Sarah Abbott to our subscribers in December so be sure to subscribe by November 30th!

Interview with Artist Sarah Abbott

Tell us about your artwork for Papirmass (not pictured.)

I created “Herbs” for my own personal collection of plant inspired prints as modern takes on old illustrated diagrams.

What’s a typical day like?

I don’t tend to have a set routine and my mornings are quite slow. I can’t begin the day without a good breakfast. My morning usually involves doing admin tasks, emailing and packaging up prints, followed by a trip to the post office and a dog walk (his name is Wilson) – mostly in local parks but sometimes out in the Peak District to clear my head. My work is done in long bursts later on in the day. I tend to find the day time is good for starting work, and the night time is great for tidying up work and really getting into the details, always accompanied by a good soundtrack. Working from home helps me to concentrate and get in “the zone”.

What is your creative process? 

My work is much like my life in general – quiet, considered, surrounded by plants. I’ve never been much of a sketcher, so I tend to work straight into the computer which gives me the opportunity to change things very easily.

How do you get into your creative zone? 

My most productive hours are in the evening, with music and candlelight. Podcasts are also great to work to.

What’s your studio like?

I work from home which has its ups and downs as anyone that does will know. But this does help me to really concentrate and I love the flexibility. I love being in charge of my own time, my environment and not having that feeling of having to be somewhere every day. 

My studio is flooded with lots of natural light which is a great ally to the 200+ plants I’ve acquired over the years of being here. Plants are a huge calming influence to me.

What inspires you? 

Nature is my biggest inspiration. I also really enjoy being near water. The walk in the Peak District is a perfect break from the computer screen. I think it’s easy to get lost online, or in your work, so it’s important to take these moments to remind yourself you’re a real life person in a real life world.

How did you learn to make art?

Like most in this industry, I’ve drawn ever since I was a kid. Art was always my favourite class in school. I did an Art Foundation course which was really important for expanding how I thought about the world and trying new techniques. My tutor pushed me to go to university and I ended up in Manchester, where I got a First Class degree in Fine Art. In hindsight this wasn’t my best suited course as it was highly conceptual, but it helped me to question what I was doing and why. After graduating it gave me the time to get back to doing what I enjoyed, which was quite simply – drawing. Which somehow led me to where I am now.

How do you make a living?

After graduating I found it really difficult to find work. I think Design courses help you with how to approach agencies and how to find work but the Fine Art course I did kind of left me lacking professionally. Eventually I got a part time job at an independent cinema which allowed me the flexibility to create my own work in my spare time (the free cinema tickets were a nice bonus!). In time, my hours at the cinema got less and less as more work was coming through for me and this year I’ve finally gone full time working on commissions and creating work for sale.

How do you promote your work? 

I’ve thought about getting an agent but this hasn’t happened yet. I quite simply try to do good work and just get it out there (on my website, on Instagram). I also think doing things like attending art fairs helps to widen that audience, because it’s easy to forget that not everybody is a big internet user.

Any advice for your younger self?

I would say have faith in what you are doing and don’t be afraid. Even the smallest things you’re doing can build into something bigger. Embrace new things and try not to get stuck in the same routines. 

What do you love and hate about the creative life?

I love the freedom of being able to organise my own time. I love sharing something and hearing that people enjoy it, and thinking about my work in people’s homes, or people interacting with something that I made in someway. When a hobby becomes a job it can sometimes be difficult to remember that you’re doing this because you enjoy it and I have to remind myself at times. This is when it’s great to take a step back for a little while and re-evaluate.

What are you currently most excited about?

Last year I started to learn how to drum and have joined a couple of bands. I used to be really shy about music but good friends have helped to bring it out of me. We’ve been doing some recording and I’m looking forward to being able to hold a record with my own music on it someday soon.

Favorite Artist?

Charley Harper

Favorite Film?

Happiness – Todd Solondz

Favorite Book?

Plant books

Favorite Musician?

Yo La Tengo

Favorite City to Visit?

New York

Favorite Meal to Cook?


Sarah Abbott is our December 2019 artist. Sign up for a Papirmass Art Print Subscription today so you don’t miss her print!

Check out more of Sarah’s artwork in our online gallery and follow us @papirmass for more news about our December issue.

Illustrations by Sarah Abbott.
Photos by Owen Richards, more of his work at @owenrichards.