Everybody knows her as Sarah Brown 2.0
About two years ago I described her as “A multi-faceted artist, yes, but not enough. Textile designer, seamstress, DJ, costumographer, graffiti artist; precious, semi-precious and not-precious-at-all stone enthusiast, yes, but still not enough.” I also wrote that “there aren’t any conventional words or expressions that could describe who she is and what she does.” This description of Sara Brizani still holds, firm and true. As she keeps evolving and her path has taken her to new places, I interviewed her again, this time letting her talk. You can read her first portrait here.
Last time we talked it was about DJing and textile design. We touched the subject of scenography in connection with what you were doing at the UAUU studio (portrait in issue no.7) – you were creating the set for an anniversary party of Jägermeister. That was one of your first forays into scenography, right?
Oh yes, wow. That was the first time I upholstered and refurbished something… it feels like ages ago.
And now, costume and set design have become your day job. How did it come to that?
When I worked as an organiser in the Big Brother Slovenia production, I saw the props guy in the Art Department having all these things like a sewing machine, maquettes, a heap of furniture, different home accessories, … I thought this would be something I’d like to do because I know how to sew and I’ve been creating with different media all my life. Doing the Jägermeister set I discovered it’s not a ‘maybe’ – I really want to do it! After that I kept asking a colleague from the UAUU studio, who worked for a production company, to help me get a job in their art department. He also kept telling me that ‘the right opportunity will come’ and I believed in that idea.
The right opportunity did come, very soon, the director of the company – Utopia film – recognised my hard work and I’ve been working there for the past two years.
What kind of projects have you been working on since then?
Mostly commercials for companies outside Slovenia, some videos, theater plays, events, … The clients are mostly foreign agencies, but the production is usually done in Slovenia. We do a lot of commercials for big brands: HP (Hewlett-Packard), Jean Paul Gaultier, Renault, Mercedes … to name a few. Sometimes we also film abroad, I did projects in Serbia and Poland.
Are any of those projects extra special to you, do any of them stand out for you personally?
I’m especially proud of my work for the HP commercial. We filmed it with a great French director, Michel Gondry, who did videos for Björk, The Chemical Brothers and directed that famous Daft Punk video for ‘Around the World’. I made a five-meter long couch for that commercial, it was huge and a big challenge.
There’s also the two astronaut suits I made for the Renault commercial. What I would emphasize is exceptional about all these things is the timeframe in which they’re made in. Two astronaut suits in five days, a 5-meter couch in three days, a matador suit in 16 hours. Not to mention all the other oversized props or costumes I’ve done, from big bears, dog heads (Ikea commercial) to a Mickey Mouse type of head and a sofa in the shape of a hand (Telekom commercial).
How creative do you need to be with the materials you use?
It really depends on the project. Sometimes the choice is between different textiles and colours which you already know how to incorporate, and then comes a project where you have to learn to work with completely new materials. For Klemen Slakonja’s video about Luka Dončić (My Name is Luka) we had to make a mermaid tail and delved into silicone and a plaster-like material. My co-worker and I made a mold out of this plaster-like material and made around a hundred tests to get the right width, colour and amount of glitter in for the end product – the tail – which was made of silicone.
Every single time the creative process is different, because you can work with so many different media. We use a lot of this thermoplastic modelling material for all kinds of props like swords, helmets, face masks … and I also work with all kinds of wood, glue; acrylic, spray or oil paint, textiles, plexiglass, etc.
What is your favourite thing to do out of everything?
It changes, currently it’s refurbishing. At the beginning, it was costume design. Then I met with Set Dressing, which I didn’t like that much, so after a while I went back to making things. This ‘making things’ can be anything, from the less noticeable ones like kitchen cloths, table cloths and drapes; or it can be a tent, kite, wand, trident, different miniatures from foam, and the list goes on and on. What I actually like about my work the most is how dynamic it is.
I feel like the things written in your portrait more than two years ago have completely collided now. You are able to use almost all of your various skills and combine them in your actual day job.
Exactly ! And this collage of know-hows is actually very sought after in film production because they need multi-faceted, creative people. What is also very useful to me is my organization skills and the knowledge of making mood boards. That’s why I was also able to execute two projects by myself – but to be honest, I like being Prop Master or Maker much more than Art Director.
The way you talk about what you do makes it sound like the best thing ever. Are there any downsides, to you?
Well, sometimes I can’t fully accept that I’m not making a thing in its entirety. The nature of this job is transient and sometimes the client hires you to only make a ‘front’ of something, because the ‘sides’ or the ‘back’ aren’t visible in the shot. But I’ve learned not to stress about it because it doesn’t mean that you haven’t made a good prop.
What you also need to know about the film industry is that nothing turns out the way it was decided at the beginning. From start to finish it can change a hundred times, and even after you complete something and they come to see it in person, it can still change.
Where does this day job, amazing as it is, leave your other loves – DJing and your own textile design?
I still design and sew different things for myself, the most recent being belt bags, I just don’t talk about it. I still have an enormous desire to have my own brand, but I’ve left the idea of brownstreetwear behind. I don’t think the name was appropriate and have been brainstorming about the right one ever since. It’ll come to me, and I’ll also be able to create a better overall image with amazing set design in the photos, because now I have more experience in that.
And about DJing… sometimes I still do it, but in Slovenia only when I’m asked by friends or if the event is aimed at introducing the genre of footwerk to Ljubljana. I also still love DJing with Eva in Graz, those parties are off the charts.
How do you see your future, what are your wildest dreams for it?
I want to make furniture and do Interior Costume Design. My dream brand includes armchairs, small sofas and tabourets, as well as streetwear.
I can’t wait to do the Sarah Brown 3.0 interview in a couple of years to talk about that!
Yeah! I can vividly imagine a salon full of refurbished pieces. Upcycled ones, new ones, designed and made by me, I want to be in charge of the whole process. I already have two or three designs in my head. Also I don’t intend to stop with the music, I want to DJ and produce music, to learn more about how to make beats.
Basically I have these desires and ideas swirling around in my head non-stop, and new ones keep popping up.
Do you have a message for young, budding creative souls?
Let’s collaborate, the more the better! Let’s work together and create amazing things! Hit me up 😉