Interview: Sarina Saddiq

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Sarina Saddiq is a designer and painter. Sarina has her own shop called Smart Squid. We were lucky enough to interview Sarina about her work and what she is currently up to.  

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

No problem! I am well thank you!

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

I’ve always loved drawing and painting and was lucky enough to have inspiring art teachers at school who really helped me develop. I started my tiny brand SmartSquid when I was 16; initially tie-dying and embellishing t-shirts, but over time have focused more on painting garments. I find practicing painting daily really useful.

Have you always been into painting and fashion?

Yes! Painting is something I’ve always enjoyed. My interest in fashion was sparked pretty early in my life too; my wonderful mum used to dress my sister and I in matching, clashing, super patterned outfits not too dissimilar to what I wear now…

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?

I’d love create a collection where the garments are made from recycled ocean plastic fibres, and painted with creatures that are usually negatively effected by plastic pollution. The technology exists already; Adidas made some nice trainers last year using ocean plastic fibres!

What equipment do you use for your work?

An array of brushes, fabric pens and paints.

What tools or materials could you not live without?

I just invested in some new tiny brushes, they’re super useful for fine detail work – I don’t know how I ever painted without them!

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

To an extent, yes. I am a bit rubbish at social media, I don’t use Facebook much but Instagram is useful for connecting with other brands, lovely creative and of course, the public. I find it hard to keep up with the beautiful aesthetics of some Instagram accounts, but try my best to showcase what I’ve been working on.

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Who inspires your work?

Most of my pieces are inspired by nature… in fact all of them are actually! I really love to use fashion as a platform to showcase creatures that I think are ecologically important. David Attenborough inspires me; he connects people to nature in such an effortless way; he is amazing. 

With regards to the fashion industry, I find Gemma Shiel, founder of Lazy Oaf, incredibly inspiring. Her designs are care-free, fun and accessible. I’m really keen on sustainable fashion and think the ladies behind Juta shoes, a social enterprise using offcuts of leather to create beautiful sandals, are truly inspirational!

Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment?

I’ve just finished painting British dung beetle species onto a dusky pink hoodie. I love dung beetles and have just completed my dissertation on them! They’re really important to the agricultural economy, but no one seems to know much about them at the moment.

 What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?

Hopefully I’ll be able to showcase more creatures through my Instagram that are ecologically important, I’ve also got some cool collabs coming up and hope to steer SmartSquid in a new direction which I’ll be documenting via Instagram!

What are you currently working on?

Today I’m painting a woodlouse onto a pencil case for my brother…

What’s your typical working day?

My typical working day includes lectures or time in the library; I’m in my final year of studying biology at Bristol University. I paint and do fun illustration things on an evening or on the weekend. Sometimes it is really hard to focus on university work!

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

I think the fear of failure used to limit my progress. I’ve held stalls at markets and not sold much/anything, and had periods of no sales online. Although demoralising, I’ve realised its not the end of the worlds, and there’s always something to learn from what could be considered ‘failures’.

 Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

I’ve just started working for a Bristol based clothing brand called ‘We are Hairy People’, an amazing company where beautiful eco-friendly garments are painted and positive mental health is nurtured through painting workshops. I’m beyond excited to be a part of such a wonderful team! My first collection is seaside inspired, and will be launching in May; I’ll definitely be posting some pictures from our recent beach day shoot!

Because I’ll be painting lots for We are Hairy People, I’m going to be exploring different ways to up-cycle and promote sustainable fashion through SmartSquid. I hope to have some menswear pieces soon, and potentially will expand into designing home-wear textiles and stationery (nature inspired of course)! I’ve also done some illustrations for magazines in the past and would love to focus on this more in the coming months.

Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?

Making the stall look nice is key in my opinion! Don’t be disheartened if you don’t sell loads – sometimes the feedback from the public is worth holding the stall, and meeting other sellers is always lovely.

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

I believe everyone has a style, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be defined. My style has evolved over the years and probably will continue to do so. I think as it’s really important to feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing! High street trends bother me for an array of reasons; I think they squash individuality and promote conformity which can be difficult when trying to find clothing that is true to ones own style. Because of this, I find charity shops and Depop really useful when looking for items that reflect my own style; buying second-hand opens up a wealth of clothing types, styles and shapes.

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Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to start painting?

Fancy paints and brushes are not required! I would suggest using the cheapest paints and experimenting at every opportunity. A range of brush sizes can be useful too.

What’s next?

In the near future, I’ll be studying for finals… But very soon I’ll be painting with We are Hairy People, designing some new things for SmartSquid. I have just been offered part-time work with an ecology company for after university and am grateful to have both science and art opportunities for the future.

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

A car with its breaks on isn’t going to move. I was given this advice last week, not necessarily in the context of creativity, but I think it can be applied to lots of scenarios. I think it means that it is important to keep exploring, keep investigating and trying new techniques, otherwise it’s impossible to move forward.

If you would like to take a look at Smart Squid, check out her website ''. There are lots of gorgeous items in stock!


Rhiannon BrittenComment