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Stories to See: Interview with Artist Sarajo Frieden

Sarajo Frieden is another fabulous artist to grace a design in our new line of tees. Her’s is called the “Violin Tree.” She speaks to us about her rich Hungarian heritage and her organic approach to her work.


Hi Sarajo! How are you?

Hi poketo! I’m doing well and hope you are too.

How did you get started as an artist? Did you ever think twice about making art your career?

I have always loved drawing and making up stories. In terms of an art career, it has taken time and a lot of trial and error to find things that could hold my interest. It’s always a work in progress.


The colors and textures of your art work are beautiful and intricate. What is your creative process like?

Thank you! I work on a lot of pieces at once so I can get some distance from them and figure out what is working and what isn’t. I”m not afraid to labor over an intricate piece and then cut it up and incorporate it into something else. I will start in on something, just begin, and see where it takes me.


What was your inspiration behind the Violin Tree design you did for Poketo?

I’ve been incorporating trees into my work for some time. Wonderful creatures those trees, and so necessary to the planet’s well-being.


You also do embroidered work on paper. There is such a personal comforting vibe from those pieces. Have you always embroidered? What do you try to evoke through these pieces?

Thanks again. I began a drawing/embroidery collaboration a number of years ago with a talented friend, Marci Boudreau. I might initiate a drawing/painting and marci will add embroidery or fabric. In this back and forth way, we work until a piece is finished. Part of the fun is not knowing where the piece is heading and letting go of expectations. I decided to start embroidering on my own pieces as well. I like how working with a different material brings something new to the table. Additionally, embroidery is in my background. At one time, my grandparents had a small embroidery business (in the Bradbury building) designing and producing bags, belts, dresses etc., for Hollywood designers and the like.


Do you feel that your Hungarian background has influenced your art at all?

Most definitely. My grandparents came to the US from Hungary. They brought with them this incredible love of aesthetics, poetry, music, delicious food, and unconventional politics. Since they arrived with almost nothing in the way of money, these were good things to have! Their home eventually contained a small library filled with art books that my grandfather found at bargain bin sales in downtown LA. As a child, I spent hours pouring over these books and was introduced to lots of artists that way. Their home was filled with beautiful Hungarian folk art in the form of embroidered blouses, pillows, costumes and wall hangings.


Much of your art pieces seem to carry a story. When I look closer, I feel like I find more images shaping the story I see going on. Sometimes they turn increasingly merry or humorous; and other times increasingly mischievous and even ominous.  How important is narrative to you?

I am deliriously happy to know that you have found such things. I think there are different conversations going on when I’m working. I have a cast of ever growing characters, including birds. Even when I’m working more abstractly, there are still conversations taking place. Maybe the trick is getting out of the way so that you can hear them.


You love the ocean and some of your friends say that you were a merperson in your former life. How true is that statement?

As true a statement as any.

What’s the last thing that made you laugh uncontrollably?

Whenever I’m around my family, especially my sisters, within moments we are laughing hysterically about something. Often, no one knows why. It’s like an uncontrollable laughing bug—you can’t resist, and why would you?


A perfect morning is…

Waking up in Big Sur, with a really great cup of coffee!

A perfect morning indeed! Thanks so much for your time Sarajo.

Thanks so much for your interest! It’s been a pleasure working with Poketo!

For more information on Sarajo or to view more of her works, go to:

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