Body art and old cigarette vending machines turned into art vending machines. We interviewed Sarah Settgast – the wonderwoman of art, who photographs, models, and designs everything from Framers glasses to stuffed animals. How does one go from being an apprentice to being selected as a designer for top quality designer frames, almost over night? What inspires one to pick up designing stylish stuffed animals for both young and old? Introducing Sarah Settgast…
BAPS: Are you from Berlin originally? If not, where are you from?
SG: No I’m not, I was born in Kyritz on Knatter. I was in Berlin really often though even as a kid.
BAPS: Favorite Berlin district?
SG: Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain
BAPS: What excites you about the Berlin art scene? What makes it unique?
SG: The art spectrum in Berlin is really huge, art, artists, street art, galleries, private art shows – you can find it everywhere and it’s happening every day. There is no “typical” in Berlin. The definition of Art is like a point of view – in my eyes the name behind the art does not have to be big or known. It is enough if i get this emotional kick out of it and I automaticaly like it.
BAPS: Any recent emotional kicks?
SG: The latest example would be my last bowling game I did with a couple of friends, I found a vending machine with tiny pieces of art in it, 3 euros for tiny pictures or sculptures from known or not so known berlin artists. It’s an awesome idea to rebuild old cigarette vending machines – it really got to me, you know what I mean, nothing huge, nothing expensive but I fell for it! I also love street art, that small one, hidden, hard to notice and find, not seen by everybody, It’s like everything can be art but it doesn’t have to be a must.
BAPS: Your tattoos look like quite a work of art themselves. Which one(s) are the most meaningful?
SG: After all those years it’s like a one big tattoo, I lost count to be honest and probably it’s not even possible to count them. Every single one of them is important for me though and has some story behind it. My mom’s portrait is really important for me, or the small moth I have in my arm ditch, and the tiny envelope on my hand.
BAPS: Aside from photography, you also design sunglasses and stuffed animals – two very different endeavors, how did you get involved with both?
SG: Well I started with an apprenticeship as an optician in this small shop, I met my future boss Matthias Busche there. I liked the glasses they manufactured/designed but as it alway is you can do some things a bit better so I made him a couple of suggestions that turned out really good with the customers as a final product. He invited me to his office, I did not wanted to just go there empty-handed, so I designed five frames that eventually got into mass production and also got me my job! The fluffy stuffed pets started out pretty random, my daughter had a really bad flu and I wanted to give her something that she could just cuddle in bed with, something from me, not bought in a shop – that’s the story of the first animal ever. I posted a picture of it on my facebook and people started to ask if I could do one for them too. I have already done some owls, fish, penguins, puppets, teeth etc.
BAPS: What was your favorite stuffed animal as a child?
SG: I had to think about it a bit, but it’s a good one – as a small kid I found this monkey in a trashcan in front of our house, I thought it was awesome so I took it home, my mom wasn’t really excited so I thought that I could make it clean again by sticking it in the oven. Well it didn’t turn out so good and the monkey ended up in the trashcan again, this time for good, but yeah I really liked it!
BAPS: Last week we featured an article with the work of filmmaker and photographer Anton Corbijn. Like yourself, he works in various artistic fields, what influence do you think this has on the outcome of one’s photography?
SG: First of all thank you very much for even mentioning his name in this interview, I really don’t deserve such comparisions, I love his work, and I’ve also heard from a friend that he’s a great person! But let’s get back to the question – you never stop, you never get pigeonholed, you never rest. If you work with all those differnet fields of arts, you never get bored or tired of all those things. If you ever get to a point where you can’t progress – it’s flatline, it’s death, and it’s almost impossible to get there if you’re working on many different projects – designing glasses, stuffed animals, my photography – that’s just a small percentage of the things I’m trying to do – I just do not show it to everyone!
BAPS: Any advice from your own personal experience to those who aspire to be multi-taskers in the arts?
SG: Keep your eyes open, let the things come at you, don’t close yourself, you don’t have to – you can – those are the things that push you, that’s the progress, not forcing yourself to do things, forcing yourself to do art! If I’m in the mood to photograph something – I do it, if I want to design t-shirts, glasses, clothes – I do it, if I feel like doing stuffed animals – I just sit down and do them, basically I just do what i want to!
Sarah Settgast Stuffed Animal Creations. Photographer: Sarah Settgast.
Thanks, Sarah! Indulge and check out more of her work here.