Interview with Artist Sabine Armour for their series "Depth"
by Jen Burkett
We were elated when we found the beautiful, moody and inky pieces made by Sabine! Sabine uses a unique process with ink and paper that uncovers the colors at the edges of black. These works make us curious about what's beneath the surface and the abstract series they created to feature at Viscera during Oakland Art Month is called Depth. We sat down with Sabine to learn more about their history as an artist and what the meaning of this series is to them.
Jen: Tell me about yourself. What's your story?
Sabine: I'm a disabled, queer, Oakland-based alcohol ink painter. My schedule revolves around my tiny cat and the neighborhood crows I feed. I'm basically just 3 ft of pink hair, a sleeping disorder, and chronic pain in a trench coat pretending to be an adult.
Jen: Tell me about the pieces in this show, Depth. What was you inspiration? What were you thinking of?
Sabine: I was inspired by the deep ocean. Unexplored, intriguing, and beautiful. Pretty much perfect for a muse. For the majority of my life I've been really disturbed by deep water but I'm enamored with the creatures that live there and their habitats. (I actually have an aquatic tattoo sleeve with critters from all the places I've lived)
Jen: Tell me about your process and the materials you use to create these pieces.
Sabine: I paint with alcohol inks and isopropyl alcohol. First I put a puddle of 91% isopropyl and then add a small amount of alcohol-based ink (usually Copics) and blow it around with a heat gun until all the alcohol has evaporated and you're just left with a stain behind.
All of the pieces in the Depth show are on Yupo or Duralar (which are just types of hydrophobic paper.) I also paint on photo paper which always comes out really interestingly because it reacts with the ink in a vibrant way that's different from how it goes on other paper. And I paint on canvas, I just have to prep it with latex paint first so it's not porous.
Jen: When did you know you wanted to be an artist? Do you have any early creative memories?
Sabine: I've loved expressing myself through art pretty much my whole life. I got a little more serious about it in 2010 and that was the beginning of me deciding that I wanted half of my belongings to be art supplies. I started with charcoal, acrylic, decoupage, and jewelry making. Then I eventually experimented with watercolors and acrylic pourings and now I'm here, at alcohol inks.
It's not necessarily the most exciting story but I decided I wanted to be a painter in 2017 because I can't work most other conventional jobs without hurting myself because of disability. That's not to say that being an artist isn't an intensive career, it definitely is, but I get to make my own schedule and if I'm flattened for a week I won't get fired. Which also means I can make calculated decision to push myself and then just have some extra down time later. I love being an artist. I'm really glad I have the support and resources to make it a reality.
Jen: Where are you from? What about the places you've lived or visited inspire you?
Sabine: I'm a military brat so I was born in Texas, moved to Florida, then Delaware, Maryland, Japan and now California. I consider myself mostly from San Francisco since I lived there for 10 years and ever where else (at least each city) for about 2.
For the most part I've lived on coasts, so I've always had an affinity for sea life and watery things. Now I live in Oakland where there is also a vibrant art community so I feel well at home here.
Jen: Analog or digital?
Jen: Do you have any creative or artistic role models?
Sabine: Yeah! My uncle Andy is a painter so I grew up around his art in my house and went to some of his shows as a child. It was really nice to have a positive example of someone doing art as a job and loving it. He even painted me a couple times.
Jen: What are you excited to work on next?
Sabine: Next thing I'm onto is putting together my show at The Bindery in San Francisco. It's going to be not dissimilar to Depth-- lots of black inks some gold. I'm doing some nice, big canvases for that show too which is always fun!
Jen: Is there anything else you'd like to share about your work or your creative life?
Sabine: Yeah! I have a Patreon! It's part of how I get to do what I do. My big goal is to have a monthly support amount of $787 which would cover my rent. There are cool, physical rewards you get every month like stickers, postcards, prints, hand-painted postcards, and paintings depending on the support tier you choose. And I make pretty regular posts like behind the scenes stuff, videos, a song of the day for days I'm in the studio, and of course pictures of my tiny cat.
You can meet Sabine at our opening reception on May 3, 2019, from 6-8pm @ 1542 Broadway in Downtown Oakland. RSVP here! All of the pieces in the Depth series will be offered exclusively through Viscera for the month of May, so don't miss out! If you can't make it to the show, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to send you a list of available pieces and prices.