So many people work together to make Welum the company that it is, to produces its films, its magazine, its books; to run its store, gallery, and flash channel. This week, we sat down with Sara Bøgh, Welum's Creative Director, to get to know her better and to find out how she works and lives. (Sara Bøgh is the artist who created all of the illustrated portraits of Welum's staff.)
1) What do you do?
I work mainly as an illustrator, drawing images for a wide array of purposes. My process can change from project to project, but it always starts with a pencil sketch. Then I use either ink, markers, traditional mediums like paint etc., or I scan the sketch and work digitally to create the illustration. I do editorial illustration, kids illustration in books and posters, cards, brand and web-related illustration work, concept development, portraits, graphic design, commissioned work - really anything I find fun, engaging, and challenging that has a story to it. I love illustration - the word itself is so beautiful. I love the idea of being able to visualize abstract thoughts and ideas and engage a viewer in a concept by visually stimulating thought association and clarifying ideas that can be dry or complex in writing. Art is soothing to the mind and can inspire people to act and react, and most importantly, just make people reflect. To me, reflection is the stepping stone to enlightenment.
I've worked many years in the film industry and still do some work as a film editor. I usually only take on shorter projects that have an angle that I am interested in. Together with the very talented folks Christina Amundsen, film director, and Christian H. Laursen, cinematographer, I run the creative collective KnockKnock, in which we produce short format film in a variety of genres.
At Welum, I work as the Creative Director, making sure we have a strong and unified brand that continues to evolve as the platform grows. I work on the concept development of our biannual coffee table books, as well as on our film productions and projects and materials related to these.
2) Why do you do it? (And why do you work as a Welum partner?)
I draw because that is what drives me in this life. The incessant urge to put things onto paper (real or virtual) is overwhelming, and it gives me immense satisfaction to do so. It fills me with happiness and gratitude to be able to put things out there in this world, to express myself and hopefully inspire others. Art, especially drawing/illustration work, has always given me this tingling feeling inside - little bubbles in my tummy growing bigger and bigger, a wonderful sensation that stimulates my mind and my senses like nothing else. I strive to create art that makes people feel this way, that makes them think, reflect, and bubble on the inside.
I joined Welum as a partner because this project has the potential to become a major player in the realm of inspiration. It is a global platform that showcases international creative work and strives to gather talent that normally is separated by geographical and cultural distances. I want to give back to the international community, and I love working with the Welum team who are continuously both ambitious and innovative in their approach.
3) What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is having two children (so far) - Ellinor (1.5 years) and Astrid (3.5 years) - and embracing the challenge and immense joy of parenthood.
Workwise, my proudest accomplishment is having the courage to follow my dreams and do what I love most. I am aware that this is a luxury not every creative can indulge in.
4) What is your favorite quote or life motto?
"Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards." - Søren Kirkegaard
This is the perfect illustration of life's absurdity - plainly serving us its true meaning. We cannot foresee the future, we know not what the purpose of anything is - it is only at the end of life, at the end of our long accumulated pearl string of experiences, that we can look back and reflect on the sum of the journey, truly understanding ourselves. The message, to me, being - live life to it's fullest, as if every day is your last. Cliché but true!
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." - Walt Disney
This quote is what gets me going in my creative work. I grew up with Disney's art and have been a life long fan. Walt Disney sparked my fire, and I feel a mix of nostalgia, bubbles, tingling and excitement when thinking about how pioneering the Disney studio was. and still is. Its sister studio in Japan, Studio Ghibli, has been equally inspiring to me, but entered my life much later than Disney. The non-linear storytelling of Miyazaki, so unconventional to the storytelling in the West, gets me going, and Totoro is my partner in crime (as my iPhone cover and a stuffed teddy in my studio) in day-to-day business.
This quote kicks me in the ass when I need to stop feeling sorry for not getting the drawing that I ache to do done because life gets in the way. Well guess what? Life will get in the way until the day you die - so start making!! In this way I guess it ties nicely into Kirkegaard’s quote also.
Note: Disney really was the reason I got into art. I read the Danish Donald Duck & co. all through my childhood and was obsessed with drawing characters from all the 90s Disney movies, starting in 1994 with The Lion King. If I had known it was possible to become an animator (this was not apparent to me in rural Denmark in the '90s), then I would have gone that route. It has taken me over 20 years to come full circle, ending up pretty much where I began. At the drawing table. But perhaps I am more seasoned because of it? Perhaps I can add some zest and perspective from my time in the film industry? Perhaps it all amasses to a greater whole? For now, I am back to drawing, this is my great passion and calling. Thank you, Disney.
5) What three things can you live without?
Things in the world? Or things of mine? I could really do without stupid people hahahah
6) What three things do you consider essential?
1: pencil and paper
3: my children
7) To where would you take a dream vacation/trip?
I would love to go back in time. That would be the ultimate trip. I never met my grandfather on my mother's side, and I've been told I am quite a lot like him, so I would love to go back to his textile shop on the center square of my home town in Varde, and see him hop and slide over the desk to stride to the door and open it to entering customers, then have a brandy with him at night and pet his guinea pig Utchi. Some might say: "go to the future instead", but the future I can imagine to be anything, and my relatives in it are strangely distant from me. The past is a fact, and in it I can investigate where I come from, what I am made of. I like exploring identity and reflecting on why we are who we are. So much of us is linked to where and whom we come from, and I find these explorations fascinating!
8) About what are you passionate?
I am passionate about drawing, art, innovation, history, and about my family and their natural health.
9) What is the vision for your next project or creative endeavor? What are your goals/desires?
For my next personal project, I am starting a series of contemporary, personally interpreted, portraits of the Norse Gods. I am a big fan of Norse mythology and my forefathers', the Vikings, culture and folklore.
At Welum, we are in the midst of setting up our next, our third, coffee table book, and I am assisting our Art Director, Bo Sørensen, in this process. This book lends itself to be a little more "out there" and unconventional in its design, so that is a lot of fun.
I recently finished illustrating the first book in a Danish series called Vilma and Friends, for girls aged six to nine, so I'll be diving into the work for the second book this fall.
Overall, I am sharpening my knives and updating my tool set, experimenting with various styles in illustration, still honing in on my personal voice, learning to balance work and family, and doing my best to enjoy every bit of it.
10. Please add anything else you like to, such as number of languages spoken, are you a dual citizen? Anything else?
I was born in Edmonton, Canada, to Danish parents, moved back to Denmark when I was four years old, and grew up on the Danish west coast in Jylland. In 2000, my family returned permanently to Canada, this time to Calgary, and I went to high school and later attended the university there. After studying a bit of Political Science at the U of C, I spent a year in Denmark at Krabbesholm Højskole, focusing on Product Design, and living in Copenhagen for six months afterwards. I then returned to Canada after being accepted to the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, BC, where I received a Bachelor of Media Arts in Film, Video and Integrated Media. Upon graduating, I moved, once again, back to the Motherland, Denmark, and worked as a film editor until shifting gears into illustration. I now live a bit outside of Copenhagen with my partner Christian and two daughters, Astrid and Ellinor, working mainly from my quaint home studio. I am the only one in my family who is a dual citizen, and I am fluent in Danish and English.