Interview with Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations)

16 year old artist Sarah Ryan from Wexford, Ireland has received much attention since broadcaster Ryan Tubridy publicised her artwork. Her celebrity sketches initially started as a hobby, and have been developed into her Transition Year Mini Company Sarah Rose Illustrations. Her work is currently on display in the Balla Bán Art Gallery in Dublin. I interviewed Sarah to find out more about her work, and her recent rise to success.

Sarah Ryan with her drawing of Ryan Tubridy.

Sarah Ryan with her drawing of Ryan Tubridy.

Jenny Duffy (JD): When did you start drawing?

Sarah Ryan (SR): I first started drawing in January last year 2013 purely as a hobby…when I started getting so much encouragement and praise, I then decided to use it as the concept of my Transition Year Enterprise.

Pink by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

Pink by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

JD: Where did you get the idea for the celebrity sketches, and who did you draw first?

SR: I always loved drawing fashion sketches. I had been drawing these for quite a while so I decided that it would be cool to try drawing someone I could recognize, therefore I started drawing celebrities. The first celebrity I drew was Rihanna.

JD:  You have used your art for your Transition Year Mini Company. Where did you get the idea of developing your art as a business, and how has it been going?

SR: My Mini Company/Enterprise has been going great! Since I am working alone, its been quite a challenge at times but it’s been a great experience. I received immense encouragement and support…from admirers of my artwork both locally and online, which made my choice for my Transition Year Enterprise a natural progression and suitable direction to follow. Since an idea like this hasn’t been done before in my school, I thought it gave my Enterprise a unique aspect. Due to the fact that my Enterprise is based on natural talent and I am only sixteen, I thought that it would attract more consumers. Therefore I saw it as an economical business idea for my enterprise as most of the ground work was already completed.

Jennifer Lawrence by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

Jennifer Lawrence by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

JD: Could you tell me about the process of making your drawings?

SR: Each drawing takes about 5-8 hours, depending on who I am drawing. The longest piece was One Direction as there are five members. When I first decide on drawing a particular celebrity, I must find a suitable photo to work from. It must be of high resolution as I zoom in on features such as their eyes and it must not pixalate at all to see all the details. I begin my work by drafting the outline of the photo I see on the computer screen. This stage takes me about 30 minutes to an hour sketching and making sure everything looks proportionally correct. I then start drawing the detail of each feature of the celebrity. I normally draw the clothes first and then continue on to the hair and face. My favourite feature to draw is their eyes. I use graphite lead pencils and high quality paper. I also use cotton swabs to smudge the pencil where necessary.

One Direction by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustration)

One Direction by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustration).

JD: Who influences your art/who is your favourite artist?

SR: I admire fellow Irish artist, Mike Gibson. I had previously seen his work on Instagram and Facebook and I was almost immediately a fan of his work. Since he is only 18 and is also self-taught and also draws celebrities, he has been a major influence. His website is:

JD: Which drawing are you proudest of, and who was hardest to draw?

SR: Since I spend so long and put so much effort into my drawings, I love them all! I particularly like the drawings I have done of celebrities I have an interest in. I am proud of my Demi Lovato, Cheryl Cole and Selena Gomez drawings as they would be some of my favourite celebrities. The hardest drawings were One Direction and The Beatles as there is more than one person to draw.

The Beatles by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

The Beatles by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

JD: What has it been like since Ryan Tubridy promoted your work?

SR: It’s been crazy to say the least! I went from running a small Transition Year Mini-Company selling to Wexford locals to being featured in numerous national newspapers, being interviewed for radio and blogs and being offered to exhibit my work in Frank O’Dea’s – Balla Bán Gallery at the Westbury Mall in Dublin in less than 24 hours! It’s been so overwhelming and rewarding to receive such recognition and I am so grateful to Ryan and the staff at RTÉ for being so supporting. To be honest, without the support and encouragement of my family, friends, school and Frank O’ Dea from the Balla Bán Art Gallery, I don’t know how I could have handled such an amazing yet hectic week. I am so grateful to everyone who has helped and advised me this week and to mention them all is impossible!

Ryan Tubridy by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

Ryan Tubridy by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

JD: Your work has been recognised by Ryan Tubridy, Pink and David Beckham – who would you most like to see your drawing?

SR: Celebrity recognition of any sort is always a gain and is so rewarding! I would love any of the celebrities that I have drawn to promote my work but if I could choose, I would love Cheryl Cole to see it.

Cheryl Cole by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

Cheryl Cole by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

JD: Who will you be drawing next?

SR: As of now, I am going to draw a second drawing of Ryan. After that I plan on drawing Miley Cyrus. My plans on future drawings change regularly but hopefully I can get started on expanding my collection when everything settles down.

JD: Will you be keeping art as a hobby, or would you consider it as a career?

SR:As it’s early days, I am still unsure whether I want to pursue this as a career but I obviously see it as an option. I will be going into 5th year in September so I would like to continue art as a hobby but due to my studies for the Leaving Cert, I will have to slow it down.

Batman by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

Batman by Sarah Ryan (Sarah Rose Illustrations).

JD: What is next for Sarah Rose Illustrations?

SR: This week, I will be giving a presentation to the judges to further my part in competition of The National Student Enterprise Awards. If I am chosen, Sarah Rose Illustrations is through to the Wexford Final. I wish to do as much as I can with the short time I have left in Transition Year but I know for sure that whatever I chose to do next, I will always hold and treasure this amazing experience with pride.

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