Sara Lutz's art work will make you laugh, make you wonder, and make you pause.
The first time I saw her work was at Flint Trading Co. There were several paintings of beautiful sand cranes, a tiger with painted red nails, and a cross stitch that said, “It’s not mean if it’s funny.”
Then there was the painting I fell in love with titled, ‘Noise.’ The painting has a M1911 pistol hanging in this abstract static way with a bright red background. I asked the owner of FT Co. about the artist. Walter said she was funny, brilliant, and a gifted artist. I knew I had to meet her. I had never felt an artist’s humor and personality reflect the world around them in such a unique way.
"I was originally inspired by an excerpt from George Crabbe's, "Tales of the Hall." There's a quote from it that says:
'Secrets with girls, like loaded guns with boys, are never valued till they make a noise.'"
When I finally met Sara we were at the Detroit Athletic Club. Her smile was almost as big as the M1911. She was warm, funny, and so easy to talk to. I wanted to interview her as a featured woman for We Are Kathy and share her story to inspire other female artists.
My hope in writing this story is that other female creatives can learn from Sara and her experiences. Readers, I want you to chase your passion, your art, and let your creative side shine. I want you to read her story and not be fearful, but instead feel empowered!
Her first round of advice to female artists, “Don’t be scared. You know you’re good. It might take a minute to realize that, but don’t ever think you’re not worth it. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone else has a different time frame in their life. Just keep working, as long as you’re working you will be fine. Get your stuff out there. It’s hard to be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, you’re gonna feel that for a while.”
Sara took her creative passion and has made it her career. She fell in love with art as a kid and her high school art teacher inspired her to dig deeper into her craft. Sara attended Savannah College of Art and Design and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in painting with a minor in museum conservation. After college in 2009 the job market was not an easy one. After saving money and working at a museum, Sara decided to take the leap of faith and started to work just off commission for her art.
Originally it was slow waiting to get commissions for her work, and now she says “It’s wild to think that people are waiting for me. The first couple months were a little scary for the sensible side of me, but it also felt so good. It felt good to make people happy and do work for them that makes them happy.”
“WE ARE ALWAYS BUILDING AND EVOLVING.”
Why does her story matter? Sara is proof in the pudding. She is proof that when you take that leap, commit, work hard, and create, you CAN make a career out of what you love. Who doesn’t want to say, “I haven’t worked a day a in my life. I did what I loved every day.” Our lives are so short and often we feel chasing our passion is a pipeline dream, but it ISN’T.
Women’s work in art has not always been supported. In the 18th century women were only allowed to use pastel colors because it was a “neater” medium and it could be put away easily. This was so that women could quickly tend to their husbands and their home. I asked Sara if she personally felt if it was difficult for her as a woman to start her career as an artist. “Men say they’re an artist and they’re asked follow up questions. Versus women, who are usually told, ‘Well isn’t that nice! What a cool hobby!’ I feel like there is a legitimacy that men get immediately to whatever they’re doing. As women we don’t often get the second or follow up questions about what we do.”
In 2017 Sara opened a print shop on her website. She then started designing leggings, shirts, throw pillows, and even cell phone cases featuring her humor and art work. “When I opened my shop male peers questioned if something was wrong. They asked me, ‘Is everything okay? You’re really talented. What’s going on?’” Her male peers were more concerned that she had sold out, but in reality a man would probably never be asked why he is expanding his creative outlets. Sara replied, “I just love the design aspect of fashion!”
Everything is fast in the world we live in today. Let’s be honest, if your cell phone takes a second too long to load any content to your Instagram you’re tempted to chuck your phone across the room and call it a few cute names as it flies through the air. This rate and speed of living overflows into our expectations with our career and personal success.
Sara’s career took time. She said it was almost a year and a half after she quit her day job that she finally felt like she was going to be okay. Her career hasn’t been easy. There are times where she sneaks away to the Detroit Institute of Art for inspiration. “I love to sit and look at the Diego fresco. I don’t know what it is about it. Maybe it’s all the moving parts. I have low key anxiety and I can psych myself out about some stuff in my head. Sometimes it’s nice to get out of my head, stand in front of something that’s so much bigger… Something that means something. History. It’s Detroit, you know?”
Sara lives in Detroit and is a part of the rebirth of the city that everyone wanted to give up on. Detroit hustles harder and has a grit that can be felt walking on the streets. Sara’s art shares the same energy. What creative passion are you afraid of chasing? What self doubts are you believing about your art?
Hustle harder. Get out of your head. Let others see your art and you‘ll be amazed what impact you can have.
P.S. The painting 'noise' now is a permanent resident in my dining room.
Written by: Jenifer Veloso