October 22, 2021 MAKER SERIES
Maker Series – Sara Berks
Something you may not know about Sara is that before she ever dreamed of MINNA or sat in front of a loom, she painted. Sara approaches each painting—her own tiny worlds sometimes referred to as Portals— without any plan and draws with a pen for permanence. This is similar to how she designs for MINNA today: ideas become tangible once they are on the loom, their permanence realized.
When designing our Utility Apron, Sara will be the first to admit that she didn’t envision inviting us into her painting studio (which also doubles as her design studio + MINNA HQ) to watch her paint + talk about her process, but we are certainly glad she did. Read on to learn more about how Sara both intertwines + separates her artwork from her design work and how her ideas of home weave their way into her studio.
By Autumn Jordan
What is your name + what do you make?
My name is Sara Berks and I make a lot of things! I started MINNA (obviously) but I think this interview is about my paintings.
When did you start painting, and how has it evolved?
I was painting and drawing since I could hold a crayon in my hand. I was always taking as many art classes as I could as a kid and luckily my parents nurtured that. I ended up going to school for design and didn't really focus on my art practice, and later came back to painting after starting MINNA.
What does a day in the studio look like for you?
It varies! It's rare I have a dedicated day in the studio. But, I do try to paint a little bit almost every day - to be honest I paint nearly every night while I watch TV. It's sort of a meditation and the only way I can truly relax and decompress. I have a little table near the couch where I can line up my watercolor pans and keep my water. My work tends to be small because of this, but on the days I actually dedicate time in the studio I try to work on larger pieces. I still tend to have TV on in the background (typically something terrible or embarrassing) or a book/podcast (when I feel the need to be more 'functional').
How do you separate your artwork from your textile designs for MINNA? How do these two different practices intersect and manifest in one another?
It's difficult. For a while I had stopped making any artwork, I had almost entirely stopped weaving, which was an integral part of the design process for MINNA. I think that period was difficult for me designwise and creatively because I didn't feel like I was a creative person anymore. When I got back into painting, even though it's so entirely different than textiles, I was actually able to design more clearly again because I had another outlet to exercise my brain visually. So now when I start painting I don't really have a product or anything in mind, I more so play with shapes and colors. And then afterwards, when I enter the design process (separated by time and space), I reference the shapes and colors I find myself turning to in my paintings to then turn into designs.
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio?
Not really! I'm sort of a 'ritual and routine hesitant' person.
You founded MINNA on the principles of creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good -- how do these concepts inspire you in the studio and beyond MINNA?
To be honest, I set sort of a lofty and somewhat unattainable goal for MINNA. It's impossible to always be good and right and perfect all the time. So, I sort of try to give myself a break when I'm in the studio and embrace mistakes and chaos.
What does “home” mean to you?
Home is a place that's filled with people I love and things that remind me of places and people I love.
How do your ideas of home weave their way into your studio?
Currently my studio is at my office which is a little strange at times because it's also a shared space. But, luckily it's a separate room with a separate feeling and vibe than the main office space. I try to be very specific about when I'm using it for studio time and when it's office/shared space time. But, I try to keep that room more personal, filled with books about my favorite artists, collected and found textiles from my travels, raw materials (i literally have ropes and ropes of braided and twisted palm that I have no Idea what I'll do with but I like how it looks), and ceramics.
When you’re not in the studio, how do you like to spend your time?
With my partner, Mary, usually listening to them talk about mushrooms or plants, with my weirdo dog, Soba, planning my next trip somewhere, or re-arranging something in my house.
Where can we find your work?
On our website, the MINNA store in Hudson, and this other little website I made for myself.
Photography + Video by Autumn Jordan