Q&A Sarah Boris

On 3 June 2023, the Now23 conference will take place in Paris. On that day, more than a dozen graphic lecturers, artistic directors and type designers are expected. Join to attend talks by international speakersaround graphic design, web design, motion design, publishing, visual identity, communication and type design. If not already done, register now to take advantage of the best rates.
It seemed interesting to us to make you discover the profiles of our guests. Discover Sarah Boris‘s interview.

Biography Sarah Boris is an artist and designer whose work has been exhibited at the Design Museum, London and acquired by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the New York Centre of Book Arts; and FRAC Normandie Rouen. Projects range from screenprinted editions such as her UK Fragile flag or LOVE typographic artwork to self-published books which include “Global Warming Anyone” and “Le Théâtre Graphique”.


What is your favourite way to start a day?

Sarah Boris It starts with coffee. I love this morning ritual which for some reasons I associate with a feeling of freedom.

What is your work environment?

Sarah Boris At the moment I am travelling a lot so I am working in many different locations. I’ve enjoyed working in lots of spaces especially after being office bound for the first ten years of my career and then lockdown. Moving around and being mobile provides a lot of inspiration.

Have your work habits changed notably as a result of the pandemic?

Sarah Boris I try to spend less time in front of the computer and be outside more. Having been locked in for nearly two years during the pandemic restrictions and screens taking so much space in our lives, I really want to be out and about as often as possible. For this reason I am doing more printmaking and artworks which involve physical, handmade components from mixing colours to pencil drawing. It’s really refreshing and it’s brought back a new joy in making art and graphic design.

Do you listen music while working?

Sarah Boris I prefer to work in silence unless I am creating an artwork for a singer or music label. I will then listen to their music while designing. Recently I have been working for a Parisian club called 1999 Paris. I was commissioned to do their new logo so I listened to the kind of music they play there. I have also been making graphics for Blumi so I’ve listened to her music a lot while working.

“Learn from many different sources: cookery, art, architecture, nature, performance, music not just graphic designer or type. Try out as many things as you can.”
– Sarah Boris

In Sarah Boris' Studio

What is the best way to work?

Sarah Boris The best way is together or with some form of support. Although I do work in solitary ways, there is always a team to some extent even if we are not physically located in the same space. I do a lot of editorial design (books and magazines) so the editor, curator, printer, paper suppliers, type foundry and production manager are all part of the team. Everything we make is the fruit of teamwork. It’s the sum of multiple specialists coming together.

how do you jump out of comfort circle?

Sarah Boris I like trying new things. Very recently I went to a residency, training in Burgundy at the newly opened Campus MaNa. I learned a lot about working with wood and creating collectively with a group of artisans, architects, product designers, artists and graphic designers. It was really special. For this reason I would say that I am driven to experience new things and seek training in different trades to get out of my comfort zone. This avoids repetition and helps me progress in my practice.

Are you always on the lookout for new typefaces?

Sarah Boris I love seeing a typeface in use and implemented in a book for example before purchasing it. I think specimens are beautiful too and I obviously love to see printed specimens. I am often on the lookout for new typefaces. Nowadays I am very keen to work with foundries that have a clear and easy to navigate licensing system. As an independent practitioner I need tools that can last and where it does not become confusing for my client as we are often the ones having to relay multi-layered licensing for typefaces. If it becomes too complex, (I’m sorry to say) but I will favour another type foundry.

“I define myself as an artist and graphic designer although more recently I am inclined to say I am an artist and designer.”
– Sarah Boris

Love screenprint by Sarah Boris

How do you define yourself? Artists and graphic designers?

Sarah Boris I consider my art practice to exist outside of commissions whereas my practice as a graphic designer is born from graphic design commissions with a specified output often defined by the client such as a poster campaign or visual identity etc. I define myself as an artist and graphic designer although more recently I am inclined to say I am an artist and designer. For example, I recently made a bench which I feel is a blend of art, design and graphic design. Inherently my practices feed each other.

What made you choose design?

Sarah Boris It was during the foundation year at Olivier de Serres in Paris. A teacher flagged up that I would be good at visual communication. Initially I had thought of going into a fine art course but I ended up studying at Estienne on DMA Typography.

Do you have words of wisdom for someone who wants to become a designer?

Sarah Boris Learn from many different sources: cookery, art, architecture, nature, performance, music not just graphic designer or type. Try out as many things as you can.

What is the message you want to convey during your talk in Paris?

Sarah Boris I will talk about the freedom to define yourself and your practice.

What other speaker should not be missed?

Sarah Boris I am looking forward to seeing all the speakers. They all have a singular and interesting journey which I’m excited to discover further on the day.

Thank you very much, Sarah!

– Interview by Yi Shen

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May 10, 2023
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