Inspiring : Sarah York {surface design}

“Hand painted florals are my favorite, as well as research and coming up with new color palettes. Isn’t that the most fun part!?” I’m inclined to agree with San Francisco-based surface designer Sarah York on this – looking at pics for hours (aka research ;D ) and playing with colour is definitely very, very fun!!


sarah york


Sarah’s work is flavoured with soft vintage colours and styles, sparked occasionally with a pop of vibrant red or magenta. She fills her canvases with watercolour flowers and foliage, creating a lovely loose and painterly style that is always relaxed and feminine.


sarah york


Her career path has woven in and out of several fields, including studying as a art major and several years working in interior design, before taking an apprenticeship in surface design and then working as a project coordinator and part-time designer for a home decor fabric company. But it was when she had her first daughter and wanted more flexibility with her work, that she decided to take the plunge and try freelancing.


“I’ve been freelancing for about a year and the biggest challenge is finding enough time for all my ideas! I have had so many jobs in the past, but this is by far my favorite.”


It’s been a while coming – Sarah says it was something she always loved to do as a child. “I was very imaginative and had a lot of unstructured time when I was small, so I was always drawing, crafting and decorating my room.  I still have a few of my drawings and it’s interesting that there are funny little patterns in them even back then!”


sarah york


Being in business for herself provides its own challenges, but she’s rising to (most of) it. “I have a natural tendency to figure things out myself (google is great!), but I do get help for the financial side, which can be so complicated and costly to make a mistake. Thankfully, my husband is an accountant, so he helps out. I got lucky!”

Branding is something that she is also challenged by. “I’m still working on this! I feel like my branding is a work in progress. Heading in the right direction, but not quite “there” yet.” But I think Sarah is doing OK – with any branding, there are always changes and progressions to be made, but a well-presented, cohesive portfolio and colour palette go a long way towards it. And Sarah has certainly got that!


sarah york


You can check more of Sarah’s work on her site,, and some of her designs are available as phone cases through





a collection of sarah's work

a collection of sarah’s work

Her best piece of advice?

“Keep creating, even if you feel like you have nothing left or the days you feel uninspired. It’s the process that will lead you to the best work.”






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