The Genteel
April 21, 2021



Creative coffee addict: these are the three words that were chosen by Manchester-based graphic designer Savasana to describe herself when speaking with The Genteel. On her website she chooses three others: Designer, Illustrator, Photographer. The first three monikers seem more suitable though as she sits sipping a sizeable frothy cappuccino, comfortable and at home in the quirky Night and Day Café - her favourite haunt in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

savasana sarah king creative what now
"What Now" by Savasana.

Born Sarah King, word choice is clearly of importance to this young designer. "I chose to work under the pseudonym Savasana because I love the sound and look of the word, and being a graphic designer interested in typography, the look of a word is pretty important. It's also the name of my favourite Bikram Yoga pose; it involves chilling out and collecting your thoughts while you recover," she explains.

Related: The Typography of Trends

Savasana looks confidently cutting-edge in high-waisted jeans, an oversized parka and black "flatform" shoes; her style clearly a reflection of her work. The baggy cropped tee that she has selected to wear reveals an enviable midriff, but it is her dark plum lipstick that steals my attention. It creates a coolness found absent in her warm personality.

Savasana is the talent behind an ever-expanding body of dynamic and thought-provoking graphic designs. Her work is an amalgamation of original fine art, first-hand photography, digital manipulation and carefully crafted typography. It effortlessly encapsulates the rough-and-ready electricity that pulses through her northern home city.

Despite a stint spent thriving on Shoreditch-fuelled adrenalin in London when working for fashion forerunner Dazed and Confuzed, Savasana is notably home when back in Manchester. "I feel deeply connected to this rainy place," she admits. Raw and unapologetic, her city-inspired work prompts more questions than it answers though.

Through juxtaposing experimental freedom with the deep emotion and self exploration experienced by younger generations today, Savasana successfully [...] taps straight into the heart of modern urban youth culture

There is an anti-art absurdity found in pieces such as 'I like it. What is it?' and 'Don't let the cork get bored.' In these designs, the artist transforms seemingly mundane, everyday objects by overlaying them with quirky typography, thus inviting her audience to view them afresh. Frivolous and unusual, these light-hearted pieces capture a playful wit found evident in the young designer's nature. Her 'What Now?' and 'Find Yourself' designs, however, press a little deeper.

Layering first-hand photography over original ink and acrylic pieces, this particular series of work sees a young topless male cast into darkness; Savasana prompts her audience to consider soul-searching questions regarding the most basic of human desires. The youthful anarchism that underscores the majority of her carefully chosen text is somewhat reminiscent of Banksy's graffiti art or the self-analytical style portrayed by the Parisian Dadaist movement of the early 20th century.

"I like how raw it is," explains Savasana in the bustling coffee shop. I think it represents my thoughts and feelings at the time. Maybe I was feeling a bit lost and ready for the next chapter in my life. I didn't really know where I was going with it; it just kind of happened."

Such freedom of experimentation is at the core of Savasana's work and is central to her creative process. "When starting a new project I love going out and finding a brand new sketch book," she remarks. "It has to be perfect - shiny and new - then I feel set to start with fresh ideas. I spend days researching and collecting anything and everything to do with the subject, gluing things down and sketching over everything. I make lots of mood boards and spider diagrams with random words that pop into my head. From then on it's all about experimenting."

Continuing enthusiastically, Savasana notes: "I love to draw and paint so I start off by sketching on whatever material I can find." The designer demonstrates a faithful commitment to the use of traditional fine art, a rarity to be protected in today's digital age: "only then do I scan my artwork into the computer and start working on Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. I believe in working with raw materials - as long as I can get a bit messy first and then move on to computer editing, I'm happy."

Savasana Sarah King Creative Find Yourself

"Find Yourself" by Savasana.

It is this element of messy imperfection that makes Savasana's pieces so relatable and infectious. Her working style is not only unique, but also bitterly honest: "A lot of my final pieces have come from making mistakes and I think that's what makes this process so much fun," she comments. Through juxtaposing experimental freedom with the deep emotion and self-exploration experienced by younger generations today, Savasana successfully - if sometimes subconsciously - taps straight into the heart of modern urban youth culture.

Her favourite project to date - a creative photography piece focussing on Manchester's diverse and iconic hotspots - was inspired by the buzz generated from the students who live there. Forever drawing upon the environment around her, turning to "music, fashion, films and travel" for inspiration, there is no limit to where Savasana's flexible design process will take her next.

"You can have a vision but you never really know what you're going to end up with. It almost never turns out quite how I imagined it, but sometimes it's so much better," she muses playfully.

Related: Private White VC - a truly unique Menswear brand manufacturing in Manchester.

Related: It's a Wall - Get Over It! 



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