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In Common Voices: Sarah Letteney

Sarah wears an In Common vintage Lee denim jacket with a 1960s knit mauve collared tee. 

For our latest installment of "Voices" we sat down with artist and illustrator, Sarah Letteney (who many of you may know from instagram as @smallsuture). We talked about her creative inspiration and how to be your own boss. We also discussed socks and lipstick. We hope you like it!

xx M&E. 

Your drawings are very dreamlike but they can also hit incredibly close to home—what’s your biggest inspiration and how do you approach creating a new work? 

It's so fun to hear you describe my illustrations as dreamlike, because that's the land they live in for most of their life. There's a Richard Brautigan story about a man named C.Card who lives heavily in his daydreams, in a dangerous way, and sometimes I worry that might be me too. But since most of my work is inspired by daily interactions—me, you, the things we tell ourselves, how we are all maneuvering our way through this life—there are always bunches of half-processed thoughts and ideas spinning around, and sometimes they merge with pieces of dreams or nightmares, or thoughts of candy, and then spit themselves out onto paper when they’re ready. 
Image courtesy of the artist. 2017.

What work to date are you most proud of and why?

My "A is for Accident" illustrations. It's one of the only series I've completed with a definitive end to it. Z. That's it. End of the alphabet. Having it all bound together in a book was extra fun, and it's cool to think about people reading it and laughing and spilling their coffee all over it in their own spaces.
Letteney's studio in Burlington, VT with her A is for Accident series (image courtesy of the artist)
Letteney's studio in Burlington, VT with her "A is for Accident" series (image courtesy of the artist). 

It can be hard to be mega-creative as well as an entrepreneur. How do you manage it and do you have any advice for other women in this position (wink, wink)? 

It's been a lot of trial and error, but I think my biggest piece of advice would be to go with your gut. Sounds cliché, but it's true. It's hard to tone down everything out there and listen to yourself, but I can see such an obvious difference in the depth and quality of something I've created because it was right for me. 

What artists (alive or dead) do you admire most? 

I love Raymond Pettibon for his lines and his ability to express the bigger picture in a limited palate, and I love Marilyn Minter for her ability to depict things I am drawn to, like mouths and hands, in a way that I could never imagine or produce. On a daily basis, I'm obsessed with Liana Finck. She's brilliant and funny and you should totally look her up if you don't already subscribe to her seemingly infinite illustrated wisdom. 

Any particular plans and goals for 2018? 

Yes! There's a book and there's an animation I'd like to see grow into something tangible this year. I’m really into staying up all night playing around with animation right now. 

Speaking yearly forecasts, what’s your sign? 

I'm a June baby, which makes me a Gemini! The twins. I think the Gemini 2018 Forecast reads something along the lines of "Get ready to have the best year of your life." 

What article of clothing can you not live without? 

If I say anything other than my favorite vintage Star Trek t-shirt, I'm afraid the community will call my bluff. I wear it all the time. I'm wearing it right now. It goes with everything: Friday nights, and yoga. But also, I love leopard print and there's almost always a piece to be found in my outfit. 
Image courtesy of the artist. 

You live and work in Burlington, Vermont. Dressing for sub-zero temps is a challenge, to say the least, how do you preserve your signature style?

 Layers! Darn Tough socks! 

You’re a fan of a bold lip—what’s on the rotation for the winter? 

My go to winter shade has been a dark, winey red from NARS, but it's reached its end and the company recently changed its animal testing policy, so I’m in search of a new deep red that is completely animal cruelty free, no excuses. Any suggestions?! 

Where can people purchase your work? 

Through my website,, or by dropping by my studio in the South End (of Burlington, VT) -- I love visitors!  
**Follow Sarah on Instagram @smallsuture.

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