Posted on June 15 2022
There is something distinct about the creative approach of Sami Sparrow. Her bold, nature-inspired designs celebrate the beauty and diversity of Australian wildlife, placing birds and native flora front and centre. We talked to Sami to learn about how she first began designing birds, her favourite types of native bird species, and how she became a creative.
Her new collection entitled Bird Talk featuring nine native birds is launching in early July- watch this space.
What makes you so drawn to birds?
I have always been an animal lover, all animals great and small. I grew up with pet birds around me and my grandparents were bird lovers, so I was exposed to birds from a young age. In early 2021 while viewing some historical diagrams and botanical illustrations of birds, I was inspired to draw some birds of my own.
After 12 months of being in lockdown and being exposed to the birds in my backyard, I wanted to illustrate the native birds in my local area; this progressed into exploring the native birds of Australia and trying to find rare or endangered birds to help educate myself and my followers. I started looking closer at the birds around me. To research to find colourful native birds, interesting looking birds, and birds that may not be known outside of their native habitat.
What is your favourite design you have made to date?
This is a really tough question. I’m not sure I have a favourite. That’s like asking a mother to pick her favourite child! I guess my favourite bird so far might be the Rose Crowned Fruit Dove. This bird was challenging with many different textures to recreate. I loved pulling together the 6 collections of birds for my Australian Birds Collection. I showcased 4 to 5 birds with different floral arrangements.
I love highlighting the diverse range of native birds we are lucky to have here in Australia. I do have a painting of an anatomical skull I created about 8 years ago up in my home. I don’t tend to put my own work up in my house but I am proud of this piece of work and don’t think I could ever sell it.
What bird do you like to design/inspires you the most?
The bird I am working on at the time! The longer I’ve been illustrating the birds the longer each bird seems to take. Most people would assume that I would get faster with each bird but I find myself wanting to pull out more detail and a greater definition of light on the feathers.
Some of my birds have taken me over 24 hours to create. I work a 9-5 job and commute for 2.5 hours each day so finding the precious time to draw is very important to me; this means some of the birds can take weeks to complete. I do love the more colourful or detailed birds though, they inspire me to push myself and align more closely with my natural design aesthetic.
How did you find your design style?
I’m not really sure I have found my creative style yet, to be honest. I seem to go through phases of working styles. Always looking for new techniques or ways of working to add to my tool kit. My surface design work ranges from digital illustration to hand painting watercolour characters. I stumbled upon the style that I create my birds with by chance. While each bird has elements of photo realness, I like to try and still make them look illustrated.
I use a similar technique to create my birds digitally as when I paint. Building up layers, colours and depth.
How did you become a designer?
I like to say, I was born with a crayon in my hand. I have always been creative and was always encouraged from a young age. I am a visual communicator, from the way I present myself to the artworks I create. I love bold colours, graffiti art, and vintage design; mash that all together with a love of traditional art and I’m not sure I ever really had a chance to be anything else but a creative!
I have always been drawing or scribbling in some way throughout my life. Recently I actually realised my mental health is linked to my creativity. I need to be creating something or I can get very low in my state of mind. I have a degree in fine and visual art. I adore doing courses to keep my skills up to date and to explore different ways of working.