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Adulthood Is a Gift: An Interview with “Sarah’s Scribbles” Cartoonist and Illustrator Sarah Andersen

Sarah’s Scribbles and her works

Welcome back, Sarah Andersen. We’ve been keeping a close eye on her journey along with millions of her followers since our first interview with her eight years ago. As you can imagine, a lot has happened in Sarah’s world since then. We caught back up with Sarah to hear her perspectives on work, life, and her outlook on what’s ahead.

Sarah: I know that I am extremely privileged to say this, but COVID was actually a time of great reinvention for me. Before lockdown, I had been so busy juggling deadlines and book tours that the extended time at home gave me the space to reevaluate some parts of my life that needed tending to. I was able to focus all my energy on writing and created a new series, Cryptid Club, and also began a yoga and meditation practice that has stayed with me to this day.

Sarah: As an ultra introvert, I am the type of person who spends a lot of time alone, even in non-pandemic times. In some ways the pandemic enabled that side of me too much. Now, I have to always push myself to be social and do the things that give me anxiety, like public speaking.

The yoga and meditation practice has really helped with that. I used to do it daily online (thanks, Yoga with Adrienne!) in pandemic times, but now I go to in-person classes.

Sarah: I’m always attuned to what they are saying. After a comic goes live, I spend a little time seeing the feedback. This gives me a good idea of what people like and respond to and what sorts of things I should focus on if I want to continue to make people laugh.

Sarah: They are growing up alongside me! Based on my social media insights, my audience is very much millennial. So, I see millennials and I as maturing and facing life together. I write about myself becoming a more well-rounded person but still struggling with the new challenges that come with getting older. The themes of the series are definitely evolving and changing, and I notice my audience evolving too. I don’t think they’d respond anymore to some of the comics I wrote in my early 20s.

Sarah: As I get older, I notice I’m looking outward more. I wrote so much about my internal turmoil in my early 20s, and now that a lot of that has settled a bit, I find myself moving away from writing about myself and more towards writing comics that observe the world I see around me. I’m trying hard to implement this in my personal life as well. As I resolve conflicts within myself, I try to be more present in the outside world.

Sarah: I do! I’ve been very fortunate to work with other creatives who are flexible and encouraging. One lesson I’ve learned is that it’s a good thing to relinquish some control. Sometimes with a project, I’ll have a clear image of what I want it to be like, but when I am working with another person, letting go and allowing their input to shape and guide the project to a new, unknown place has ultimately been a rewarding experience for me.

Sarah: I felt like my past experience with my work being co-opted and my consent being violated gave me a unique perspective and foresight. A.I. has the power to twist our artwork, our faces, even our voices in ways that can be deeply damaging. Early in the game, I felt like the many possibilities hadn’t been fully accounted for (or willfully ignored) before the technology was released.

The art community was hit fast and hard. As someone with influence in that world, I felt a moral obligation to talk about the harm that I was seeing. I also felt a moral obligation to talk about the way that using our data without consent can not only upend the art world, but potentially violate anyone. I tried to use art and my past experience to demonstrate that. 

I feel like my point has been proven repeatedly and will continue to be until we get guardrails and safety protocols in place. There are many examples, but perhaps a particularly high-profile one was the appalling Taylor Swift deepfakes that circulated social media. 

Sarah: Of course, receiving criticism can be hard, but my conviction was stronger than my fear. In moments of doubt, especially now with the ongoing copyright cases, I always fall back on the fact that for me, this is the right and only path, and it is a duty to my community. I also separate criticism of an idea from criticism of my entire person.

I also understand that it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of a painful experience—sometimes someone’s opinion won’t shake until it happens to them, and it becomes personal, though of course I don’t wish that on anyone. 

Sarah: As someone who has written a comic that is in many ways a diary, I know that personal or vulnerable experiences can underline a greater point. I’m not sure that the essay would have had the same impact if it was a clinical essay about the potential harms of A.I. Opening myself up and sharing my experience was a bid for people to understand my point, and I was fortunate that a lot of people saw me.

Sarah: I take more breaks now. I used to think you had to push through burnout, but in fact it’s the opposite. Having a decent work-life balance is not necessarily an easy thing but it’s vital to my happiness and the quality of my work.

Sarah: My fifth book, Adulthood is a Gift, comes out in October. I’m very proud of this book. In many ways, it’s the first time “Sarah’s Scribbles” looks backward. I wrote 15 essays reflecting on my career and what it means to be an artist in this world.

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About Sarah Andersen

Sarah Andersen is a renowned cartoonist and illustrator, best known for her widely popular comic strip, “Sarah’s Scribbles.” Her work captures the humorous and often awkward experiences of modern life, resonating deeply with millennials. Through her relatable and endearing lead character, Sarah brings to life the day-to-day struggles of adulthood, from battling procrastination to navigating social situations.

Sarah Andersen is a New York Times bestselling, Goodreads Choice Award-winning, Ringo Award-winning, and Eisner Award-nominated author. She has collected the best of her “Sarah’s Scribbles” webcomic in four books published to date, with a fifth, Adulthood Is a Gift, due out in the fall. On her website, www.sarahcandersen.com, she describes her work as semi-autobiographical, following “the adventures of myself, my friends, and my beloved pets.”

She has also authored two other acclaimed books that showcase her unique talents. Her book Fangs tells the quirky love story between a vampire and a werewolf, blending humor with a touch of gothic romance. Another notable work, Cryptid Club, explores the world of elusive mythical creatures with her signature wit and charm…

Do you hate social gatherings? Dodge cameras? Enjoy staying up just a little too late at night? You might have more in common with your local cryptid than you think!

In addition to her many creative projects, Sarah has become a leading advocate for defending the copyrights of the artist community.

Read rtor.org's original interview with Sarah Andersen

Original Interview
Sarah’s Scribbles and her works

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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