The illustrated storyteller of Estonia , Ulla Saar.
Date posted: September 4, 2012
She comes from the beautiful northern coast of Estonia, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, just in front of Helsinki, she is one of the well-known artists of her city, Tallinn.
* She is Ulla Saar…
….and she is Tallinn’s best kept secret. Shh!
* Ulla, do you remember when your relationship with art and illustration started?
With a risk of sounding pretentious I’d say that it started when I was born. Pretentious because I don’t remember being born and presented with a golden tiara of art…yet I strongly believe it’s something you can’t learn, you either have the need to make things or you don’t.
* Have you ever had any former activities related with drawing or are you a self-taught person?
It’s a tricky question. Being in art school has taught me to look at things but I do believe I’m more or less self-taught. You do learn how to draw at school, it gives you a background and a technique but there’s life after school as well, in fact that’s when the life begins and you’re on your own. Now do you stand still or move forward.…?
* Have you ever thought that you would become an artist?
When I was very little I wanted to become a geologist and study and draw rocks and fossils. The idea of becoming an artist was such a revelation in a way that none other in my family drew or paint and then one day I visited a studio of a painter, a friend’s mother or aunt and the scents and light and colors of that place were a truly religious experience and I thought “I want this.” After that I knew, there was no way back. Very romantic, innit :)
Besides of drawing, you have other interests such as take photos, and build models…
* Could you define yourself as a multidisciplinary artist?
I think I have this restlessness in me that doesn’t let me stay still and makes me want to try new approaches. Above all, I love lines and pens and there are more than one ways to use them but I’m also interested in different mediums and how well do I manage to get my message through.
* What your drawings have in common with your photography or models?
They’re all made by me.
* We know that you are mad about music, you post songs in your own music blog. What does music mean to you?
The meaning of it has changed over the years. I hardly listened to any music when I was a child, even up to when I was in my teens, I had no real relationship with music, back then music was just music, I had no idea there are different genres. In that way, it was a time of purity, you could hear things for what they were not what they were told to be. Around when I was 17 my views about music started to change and I got into this “indie” scene… they were all very particular of what they were wearing and what they were listening to, like a cult in a way. I followed it for a while until it got boring. It taught me a lot, I am not denying that but by all means all that “you have to do this to be cool” gives me a rash. Now I just listen to what strikes my chords, my taste is very eclectic. I mostly have my headphones on when I draw and there’s music in them. It differs daily although when something has caught my ears I can have the same song on loop for a day or two.
All artists have influences…
* From where you are, do you think that your art has been influenced by styles such as Nordic, European, Germanic or Baltic?
I honestly haven’t got a clue. It must have something of all but that’s something for art critics to say, I just draw.
* Which artists would you like to recommend us and have influenced you in your career and style?
Jon-Kenneth Weckman, Eduardo Recife, Piret Raud.
Looking at your pieces we notice that most of the times, your line is free, spontaneous and carefree, other times it’s really clean and realistic…
* How do you think a viewer can recognize both lines as Ulla’s style?
I hope not! I’d hate to be stuck in a style. It’s part of why I always try to find new approaches that link to the theme not draw in a specific way just because it’s what I’m used to or because it’s my style. Of course I have my own handwriting but it should serve the purpose, not the other way around.
* Sometimes, you depict series of drawings… why do you like to work in this way? Would you like to name any particular series you love?
I guess because I have got several thoughts about the same theme that couldn’t be covered in one drawing and I’m not into medieval ways of showing multiple things happening on one sheet. Plus it appeals to me to have a pack of drawings that add to each other, like chapters in a book. I’m particularly fond of my dreams series and the one of “Patron saints”.
You have published the book “Not Entirely Brown” with Atem Books, which is a book thought to participate with people and fans…
* What is this project about? And what would you say to encourage people to take part of this project?
I wanted to make a book that people can add things to. A drawing book that has a hint of idea and that encourages you to move forward from and think with it. There are no rules in this game; I’m excited to see how people share their different views and understandings. You certainly don’t have to be an artist to draw in this book.
* The book is sort of an alternative travel guide to Tallin, Estonia. What would you highlight about your city?
It’s a city of disjunction where multiple layers are mixing with each other. It’s the soup of old and new, an odd tasting soup with quite an original recipe. I think you should come and see for yourself.
Just to end with the interview…
*A goal achieved and one to get.
One book out, plenty to go; an animation, perhaps
* A project in mind and one you are proud of.
I have an idea of hanging mobiles in mind right now and a big sticker project…. I try to do projects that I don’t have to be ashamed of.
* A book you would like to recommend and a song you can not stop listening.
* What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Look into yourself. Everything else is done.