Illustrator Sarah Walsh: My Sources of Inspiration


Sources of inspiration

By Sarah Walsh

Independent film maker and illustrator from Galway Ireland who loves the art of storytelling


My main sources of inspiration come from film, music, theatre and illustration.


I am always searching endlessly through Pinterest for new illustrations that catch my eye and save them to my own personal boards to use as reference for future projects I would like to create. I go through periods where I click into my account and even if I’m not sure why a particular illustration has caught my eye I save it to my boards and come back to it later to see why I was drawn to it. Sometimes it can be the colour, the silhouette and sometimes it can be just because the idea behind the image is interesting. I find Pinterest a lovely site to use and to connect with other artists around the world. I also find that if you’re stuck on a particular technique, Pinterest can be a lovely site to find tutorials and step by step guides for brush and paint techniques.


I also gather inspiration through film. If I’m struggling with an idea I often look to films that I love and see how I could capture a feeling or a mood similar to those found in the films. I am hugely interested in animation film particularly Irish Independant films, however, I do mainly focus on live action films and try to see how the action whether it be the subtle facial expression on a character or the lively buzz of a crowd can be re-created using subtle animation. I find it a challenge and it excites me to try and achieve it.  Keep watching films, live action, animation etc. The more you see the more inspiration you’ll get and the more you will want to create.


My third source of inspiration comes from theatre, particularly the works of Enda Walsh and Martin MacDonagh. I always enjoy going to see live theatre. I try to soak in everything from the unbelievable set design to the acting and costume designs. To me there is nothing more engaging than being immersed amongst the atmosphere that comes from sitting in a theatre. I always try to picture my film ideas if I were to put them live on stage.


My last main source of inspiration comes from music. I always find working in silence can be a bigger distraction than having something going on in the background. When I get an idea, particularly one I feel strongly about, I try to find music to suit each scene within the film to match the mood I am trying to capture. Music always plays a large role in my films, it acts as a main character for me and I feel without it my films would not be complete. The most recent soundtrack I fell in love with was Jóhann Jóhannsson’s moving compositions in ‘Arrival’. I have this soundtrack on a loop and it always without fail sparks a new idea that I immediately write down in one of my many sketchbooks. My advice when it comes to creating anything new, listen to something that you love, and allow everything else to be blocked out. Let the music help the mood of the piece you are trying to create, tune in to it and listen.

I feel that if I’m in a bit of a block I go to these four sources and without fail an idea will always be sparked.