We had a chat with the talented illustrator and small business owner Sara Hjardar about her journey into digital illustration! Read below as she shares her Etsy top tips and inspiration behind her magical pieces. 

Hello Sara! Thanks for taking the time to speak to Zap! Creatives for this blog post. We know how busy being a small business owner and student can be, what does a typical day consist of for you?

Hello! Well I’m an illustration student, so my day mostly consists of working on projects for school. I recently quit my job as a part-time worker in a flower shop, so I could focus more on working as a freelancer. Besides school, I now do art commissions/illustration work for clients, and I also design and work on stuff for my Etsy store. When I’m not working on anything, I love to spend my free time playing video games or just drawing for myself. So a typical day would consist of me working on school for the first half of the day, then working on commissions or packing Etsy orders if I have any for the rest. I try to take the weekends off though, but it's hard when your hobbies, work, and school consists of pretty much the same thing.


How did you get into digital illustration?

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I used to get in trouble at school because I was always drawing instead of focusing on what the teacher was saying. I didn’t start doing digital illustration until around three years ago. Before that, I used to paint with acrylics and draw with pencils. I remember digital art was very new to me at the time, and it took me some time to find my style. I think going from traditional painting to digital painting was a smooth transition for me since I focus a lot on dynamic lines in my art, which is really easy to translate into digital.


What inspires your illustrations?

The feeling you get when you’re watching your favourite movie, or listening to your favourite song. That sort of nostalgic feeling of wanting to be somewhere else, but then being hit with the reality of being stuck in your room. So you could say that I use my art as some sort of escapism from the day to day life. I've always been obsessed with fantasy, and I guess being able to draw my own images is a great way for me to still hold on to that childishness of wanting to be somewhere magical.

I also have more specific influences like nature, Studio Ghibli, video games, surrealism, and human psychology.


Favourite illustrator of all time?

João Ruas

Etsy top tips?

1. Not everything will be a best-seller!
2. It takes a lot of time to gather an audience who wants to buy your
3. Don't spend all of your money on a lot of products in the beginning.
Start small!
4. BUY A PRINTER. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, but it is so
much easier to print your own shipping labels than doing it at the post
5. Take good product photos! Plain background and some good lighting can
do wonders (I always just use my phone for my photos)


Biggest challenge you have faced so far as an illustrator?

Getting jobs and asking for decent payment. Especially during covid. When getting a job as a freelancer is hard enough as it is, then it is even harder to say no to an underpaying job when it appears. A lot of people look at drawing as «not a real job» and therefore expect to pay the bare minimum for a commission. It is important that we never undervalue our own work, and that we ask for a price that is fair and respects us as artists.

Also, when people ask if I make logos when I say I’m an illustrator…


Biggest dream? What would you love to achieve?

To publish my own illustrated book/comic book. I always got so lost in the books and movies that I grew up with, and being able to give people, especially kids and teens, that same escapism from reality would be my biggest dream.


Would you like to shout out any of your favourite

Diana Naneva, Audra Auclair, Wylie Beckert, Tomer Hanuka, and Johan Egerkrans to name a few! They are all some of my greatest inspirations.

If you had one superpower what would it be!?

I would love to be a shapeshifter! Then I could be whoever, or whatever, I wanted to be AND I could also make my own references for my drawings.

Finally, where can people view and purchase all of your amazing work?

I post art regularly on my Instagram @elfentrank, and I own an Etsy shop
with the same name!

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