ARTivism for Animal Liberation – Vegan Artist Sara SechiJanuary 16, 2019
Meet Sara Sechi, an Italian vegan artist. We sat down with Sara to find out what and who inspires her and to get her tips on how to do ARTivism to encourage animal liberation.
What led you to become vegan?
It was six years ago, my cat who I grew up with was becoming increasingly sick. I believe seeing him suffering led me to be more and more empathetic towards animals.
A series of small seeds planted got me thinking about the arbitrary way we see different species of animals, and the way we treat them differently as a result.
After some research I came across ‘The Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear’ by Gary Yourofsky on Youtube, where he talks about speciesism and goes over all the lies that we are fed about animals and animal use since we are children. Once I had all the information I had no reason not to give veganism a try, and I never went back.
What inspires your vegan art?
I am inspired by quotes, documentaries, music, vegan activists and other artists, advertising posters on the street, my own feelings at a particular time – anything can spark a new idea.
How did you get started as an artist?
I’ve been doing art since I was little, I used to do little art and crafts things with my mum or my nanny in the afternoon. I used to try to copy my favourite cartoon characters and at school I was always good at drawing. I went to art school and then studied Design at university in Italy. After uni I went into graphic design but didn’t actually draw for years. It was with my vegan artwork that I got back to drawing and painting.
What is the ultimate message you hope to convey through your work?
I hope that my art can plant a seed in the mind of the non-vegan viewer. Make them start thinking about our treatment of animals, the double standards that we have towards different species and the obvious violence that we’ve been trained to ignore and belittle.
Who is your biggest inspiration in the vegan movement?
There are so many amazing people that do incredible things that inspire me every day, from the most famous activists to my own vegan friends. Between my fellow vegan artists I’d say it’s Philip McColluch-Downs; his talent, his ideas and dedication are just mind blowing. From my closest vegan activists it’d be Aiyana Goodfellow (@that_vegan_girl_aiyana on Instagram). At only 12-years-old she gives speeches, organises demonstrations and uses her creativity to always speak up for animals. I’ve met her through activism events in London and I’ve watched her grow stronger and stronger in her advocacy. Her dedication at this young age is really inspiring.
What is your favourite piece that you’ve done so far? Why?
I’m very pleased with ‘The Ghosts You Wear’. I like the dramatic effect of the different animals coming out of the everyday outfit that a regular person would wear, exposing the hidden victims that we don’t think about when we buy and wear these items.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you face as an artist?
I find it challenging to stay motivated sometimes.
There are times where you feel like things are really changing but then you see a new video or you read a new report and it makes you feel like the cruelty in the world is just endless and you wonder if your work really matters or not in the vastness of change that needs to happen. But that’s also what keeps me going.
We all need to do our part and I’m just doing mine in my own way.
What’s been your most popular piece with fans so far? And why do you think this is?
The most popular piece has probably been ‘Not Property‘. My pieces are usually either cute or provoking and people are attracted to one type or the other, but ‘Not Property’ has both characteristics. It’s just a portrait of a cute lamb but still conveys a strong message, so it appeals to a larger audience I think.
How did you become a member of the Art of Compassion Project?
I came across the Art of Compassion Project in 2016 while I was unemployed. I think I was just Googling ‘vegan artist jobs’ or something like that and I stumbled across their website. I saw the beautiful art from the many artists that were part of the project, and I read it was all created to raise funds for vegan charities and sanctuaries, so I thought I’d give it a try. I joined and shortly after submitted my first piece of artwork. I received great feedback on it and it was so satisfactory to use art as a form of advocacy, so I kept going and then started to get more involved with AOC.
You go to a lot of exhibitions on behalf of the Art of Compassion Project. What kind of direct feedback do you get from visitors on the project’s artwork?
We get a lot of praise from people, many saying that vegan art is largely overlooked in the vegan movement and should get more exposure than it currently has as it really has the power to open people’s eyes.
What medium do you use to create your art?
I mostly do digital artwork as it leaves me a lot of freedom to play around with the shapes and colours, but I do experiment with some traditional techniques at times like ink, watercolours, acrylics and coloured pencils.
What is the vegan scene like in Italy? How does that compare with the UK?
I’d say the vegan scene is expanding quickly in Italy. There are more and more people interested in the lifestyle as it’s starting to become more mainstream. There are a lot of products available in supermarkets, even more than in UK in some cases, but there’s very little numbers and diversity in vegan restaurants compared to the UK. The activism groups are also very fragmented and are less direct in their approach compared to UK activists in my opinion.
You’ve spent quite a few years in London. How has this influenced your work?
I think if I hadn’t lived in London I wouldn’t have the same strength and confidence in fighting for what I believe in. I think I gained that ‘bog off’ British attitude and the courage to protest and demonstrate that didn’t come so naturally to me at first.
What’s next for you? What are you focussing on over the coming years?
I’ve just recently quit my day job and momentarily resettled at my parent’s home to be able to focus full time on my art. I’m hoping to participate in as many festivals and exhibitions as I can and use my art to collaborate with different groups, organisations and individuals to promote the message of animal liberation. So my next step is to be a bit of a nomad, meet lots of inspiring people and get involved in as many projects as possible.
What words of advice would you offer to other aspiring vegan artists?
I know it can be scary at first, you might think you’re not good enough or you don’t know what to do. First of all, you are good enough, it doesn’t matter if you studied art or not or if you can make a perfect prospective or not.
Just shape your feelings into image, draw what makes you hopeful, or what makes you sad or angry, and share it through social media so that it can make the impact that it’s meant to do.
You don’t even have to use your own name or show your face if you don’t want to, but get your art out there. Be consistent, keep on creating and the confidence will come soon enough. I really recommend joining the Art of Compassion Project too, it’s a great platform to get your art seen and to connect with other vegan artists that will certainly inspire you, while supporting vegan causes at the same time.
Where can people buy prints or other products featuring your work?
You can buy art prints at my website sarasechiart.com and t-shirts and hoodies with my artwork at sarasechiart.teemill.com. I’m in the process of starting a Redbubble shop as well, which will have mugs, phone covers and other products, and an Etsy shop where I’ll have some original pieces. I’m also at different vegan festivals around Europe; you can follow my whereabouts at my Instagram @sarasechiart.
As a writer, Emma’s work has been featured in other popular well-being and spiritual websites such as Elephant Journal, IVORY magazine, and she’s part of the Huffington Post’s team of regular bloggers. Her writing was also included in the Tiny Buddha book 365 Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha,released in 2015 by HarperCollins.
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