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Issue Date: February 2009


Prints Charming

A local artist lights up the small screen with delightful images fit for any surface — from walls to wallets.
Holly Crawford

If you can dream it, Sara Hoover will design it with simple lines, bold colors and a hint of whimsy. Think bright blue bulldogs on canvas and turntables on T-shirts.

The artist behind Small Screen Designs is known for making everyday objects (such as shopping carts, cameras and wine openers) come alive in graphic, two-color, silk-screened grandeur. “I’ve always been inspired by Andy Warhol, and I’m a big fan of poster art for bands,” says the 31-year-old Cleveland Institute of Art graduate. Her pieces reflect those influences.

Although she originally went to Kent State University with a plan to follow in her architect father’s footsteps, one class changed everything. “I took graphic design as an elective and really fell in love with it,” Hoover says.

With encouragement from a professor and freelance success designing logos and flyers in the music world, her career path took a more artistic turn. Then she was accepted into the Cleveland Institute of Art. “I always thought that art school was about drawing perfectly, but I explored all forms of art at CIA,” she says.

Hoover launched Small Screen Designs almost three years ago after she “got on a screen-printing kick,” applying her images to everything and selling them — quickly. “So many people said, ‘Put that on a T-shirt and I’d buy it,’ ” she says.

She did, and is now well versed in printing on paper products and clothing. But Hoover’s newest canvas is wood, at one customer’s request. Happy with the results, she wants to do more big pieces — and smaller ones, too. She plans to dabble in printing on jewelry to see if it can be done. And she paints. In fact, her paintings of superheroes such as Superman and Batman have drawn rave reviews, though she’s reticent to sell them.

“My silk-screens can be reproduced easily, but I’m more personally attached to my paintings,” she says.

Luckily, Hoover will create a painting or silk screen on commission — with a little direction or a lot — in her signature uncluttered style. “It’s great when people know your style, and they trust it,” she says. “A woman recently had me do prints for her baby’s nursery, and I loved it.”

Dogs are a favorite subject, but she says “it’s hard to capture their faces in a few amount of lines, so it’s really rewarding when it works out.”


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