Like most lovers of fashion, Sarah Maxwell decided to go to Paris to fully immerse herself in all the colors, textures, and designs that she could find. But unlike most people interested in fashion, she used that passion to create a hybrid style: fashion illustration mixed with a comic book aesthetic.
While her teachers discouraged her from doing fashion illustration—they pushed her to pursue comics—an enlightened soul encouraged her to merge the two. She wasn't ready to do so at the time, but now her work exists in that exact space.
"It wasn't until I was a few months out of school that I just focused on making art for myself and really started tuning out everyone else's opinions," Maxwell tells Creators. "After all that experimenting, I was able to use my experiences across these styles and mediums to find my own voice. I can say that today I am confident in my own artistic perspective, and the feedback I have received in regards to my work has been incredibly motivating."
The Paris-based artist remembers creating comics even at a young age, long before she started pursuing art seriously. "Growing up, my house had a laundry room where we kept a little TV. There I'd hole myself up and watch cartoons, mainly Transformers and Spongebob, and make little comics relating to their stories," Maxwell says.
The pieces feel personal, making the viewer a voyeur into scenes that depict bedroom intimacies or reflective moments. "Each of my pieces are based on emotions I had during a certain time of my life, and my work is an outlet for me to work through those feelings," she adds. "I like the idea of so many little mini comics coming together to create a greater narrative."
Many of the narrative scenes capture the pangs of love with text like, "You're such a time destroyer" and "I keep dreaming about you" accompanying panels picturing wistful characters. One series of panels shows a nude figure reclining against a pillow with a look of pained ecstasy. The right three panels show two hands intertwining and separating. In each scene, Maxwell is depicting "the romance of fragility, femininity, and this darker sense of emotion."
Amidst all that emotion, the panels are aesthetically minimalistic, even while they capture details like the wrinkles of jeans against a body holding a rose. That's where Maxwell's fascination with fashion comes in. "I'm a sucker for beautiful designs, even just the textures of the cloth… Anything that stands out to me like that, I immediately want to get it down on paper." If the short snippets of text paired with close-up scenes feel musical in nature, that's not a coincidence.
"A lot of my work is based the pairing of music and experiences in my personal life, and sometimes even my dreams. I'll be listening to a song, and I'll get caught on a few lines of lyrics and instantly come up with image. Sometimes I'm inspired by emotions that I need to get out from events in my personal life," Maxwell says.
Now, Maxwell hopes to create a project with her recent work either in the form of a web comic or a book. She hopes to "push [her] fashion illustrations even more" and see what other stories come to life.