Sarah Burford is the textile artist, illustrator and dreamer behind the pocket sized showgirls at Curious Pip.
The majority of Sarah's work is inspired by her lifelong fascination with old Hollywood - particularly the 1930's. She draws upon the style and sophistication of actresses such as Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers to create unique, one off, art dolls and illustrations that mesmerize and bring to mind a bygone era of sizzling glamour.
Sarah has been making and painting for as long as she can remember. As a child she'd watch old movies and sketch all her favourite costumes, she'd also raid her grandmas cupboards and wardrobe - a treasure chest of hats, net curtains and old coats to create her very own unique dressing up box.
Curious Pip. has become a worldwide success since the business started in 2011. Last year she won Best Vintage Style Artist at The National Vintage Awards and enjoys a constant flow of work from all corners of the globe. Many of Sarah's dolls and illustrations have skipped off to destinations that Sarah's not yet even set foot.
Sarah works from her ever expanding studio space at home in Bristol UK which she shares with her dashing architect husband and cheeky six year old son.
Have you always been creative and artistic?
I guess so yes. I was always drawing as a child. I used to create my own little dens (my mum used to call them Sarah's corners) and turn them into a artist studios where I'd have all my favourite books, toys and drawing materials. I also used to do a lot of dressing up and create my own plays - dragging my poor little brother into a lot of them and forcing him to wear tights and silly hats
How would you describe the style of your work?
Well I was fascinated with really old children's books from about the age of 10, and used to pick up fairy-tale annuals from village fairs and jumble sales. I was also quite obsessed with the Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Baker and the cosy little stories of fully dressed rabbits, cats and naughty squirrels in the Beatrix Potter books. I still have all these lovely childhood treasures on my shelves now, so I guess all those beautiful bygone illustration styles seeped subconsciously into my work from the very start. At lot of people would therefore describe my style as having quite a 'vintage' feel, and I'm very happy with that label.
What’s in your pencil case and what’s your favorite tool?
Well I have several pencil cases, several paint boxes and a shelf full of jam jars housing paint brushes and chop sticks! Yes a chop stick is one of my very favourite tools especially when it comes to stuffing polyfil tightly into little fabric bodies! As an illustrator my favourite pencil is probably a 2B and I favour gouache over any other paint.
Who is your favorite superhero?
I'd have to say Wonder Woman. It's the raven locks and hourglass figure. I grew up in the 70's and 80's and watched Linda Carter transform into goddess in just a few short spins!
If you could have one super power what would it be?
Well an obvious super power for me would be to be able to travel back in time. Of course I'd go back to Old Hollywood, maybe visit the world famous Coconut Grove, hopefully bump into Clark Gable and maybe have a cocktail with Myrna Loy and William Powell.
How refreshing it would be to spend a bit of time without the technology we're used to today. I feel quite lucky that I grew up during a time when we didn't have mobiles, laptops, ipads and social media.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Old movies, music, books, I'm mad about books, our shelves are totally cram packed with old children's books, fashion history books, movie books, biographies etc.. I'm also very inspired by old vintage fabrics and the rich history that surrounds them. I don't much mind if the fabric has a few stains or holes - infact I prefer it - it has a story. As with most artists I get inspired by the changing of the seasons and the anticipation of Halloween or Christmas. I'm currently doing sketches for Christmas card designs and willing the weather to turn frosty and crisp.
Who are your favorite artists or comic book authors?
We're so lucky with the internet these days, we can always seek out other inspiring artists that we might not of otherwise discovered if it wasn't for social media. I adore other doll artists - Sarah Strachan, Rebekah at Forgotten Stitches and Sara Sherriff of Wildwood Maker. I also love the beautiful, delicacy of Mister Finch and his fairytale moths, hares and spiders...Oh and don't get me started on the paintings and rambling of the sublime Emily Winfield Martin, creator of Inside a Black Apple.
Artists from the past who inspire my work on a daily basis include Nell Brinkley who was famous for her comic strips Prudence Prim and The Fortunes of Hossie. And the cute and funny paintings of Anne Harriet Fish whos cartoons of fabulous flappers and dapper gentlemen dominated the magazines of the 20's and 30's. So much to be inspired by there's just not enough hours in the day to create all the things you want to create!
Do you have a favorite artist you'd love us to feature for Superhero Sunday? Send us a message!