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Meet Sage Coffey | Artist's Corner

March 11, 2021

pasta scrunchie by sage coffey

Meet Sage! Based in Chicago, Sage is a cartoonist and storyteller whose work has been featured in The Nib, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and the video game BUGSNAX. They are also the artist behind our “Noodling Around” scrunchie!

Sage Coffey The Scrunchie Club

The Scrunchie Club: Hi Sage - Thank you for chatting with us today!

Sage: Of course! Happy to be here! 

TSC: When did you first fall in love with cartooning?

SC: It’s funny because I’ve always been in love with animation and thought that would be my path. I read a lot of manga when I was a teen. InuYasha by Rumiko Takahashi was my absolute favorite! Honestly, I didn’t think being a cartoonist was a career option I could pursue until learning about the Sequential Art program at SCAD. Sequential Art is just a fancy way of saying comics. It’s hard for me to pin-point an exact moment of falling in love with cartooning because I feel like I fall in love again every time I get to make something!

TSC: What is it like to see your work in publications like The New Yorker?

SC: It’s kind of wild! If you told little kid Sage that they’d be in The New Yorker, they’d stare up at you and go, “What’s that?” Hahahaha. No, but seriously, it’s a really dumbfounding feeling. When I started making comics, I thought I’d be more in the serial publishing realm doing monthly installations of someone else’s property. Even working in newspaper comics, which some call a dying art, is an honor. I’m grateful for Emma, the art director/editor, who took a chance on me!

TSC: How does your creative process differ when you’re developing more extensive stories, as you did with BUGSNAX?

SC: It is incredibly different. Story editing was sitting in a writer’s room with Kevin Zuhn (BUGSNAX Creative Director) and going through the script line by line, editing what needed to be edited in order to emphasize the character’s emotional journey. There’s so much going on with the player both visually and auditorily than in illustration or comics. It was important to make sure the story didn’t get lost amongst the other aspects of the game, but instead worked together with them. It’s a very collaborative environment in that way. When I work on my own illustrations and comics it’s much more self-directed, as you can imagine. It’s just such a different medium, I don’t worry as much about the story getting lost in the environment or design of the comic but rather vice versa. Can I take someone to another environment just by them looking at an image and not activating their other senses? Both games and comics are similar in that those elements (story and surrounding environment) must work together. However, they’re different in both the tools you can use to execute those elements and thinking about how to direct a reader/player’s emotions revolving around those elements. 

TSC: What advice do you have for artists who are still searching for their signature style?

SC: Our styles are a visual collection of things we like from all the media we consume around us- Whether that be comics, video games, TV, or even music! I’m a firm believer that everyone has their unique style whether they realize it or not. It’s just learning to recognize your style, accept it, and lean into it!

TSC: Can you share more about the inspiration behind your “Noodling Around” scrunchie design?

SC: Noodles were always on the menu at my house! They are cheap, easy to cook, and widely accessible regardless of area! In the donation boxes me and my mom would get when I was a kid, there would always be egg noodles or angel hair! In short: I like noodles. 

TSC: 15% of the profits from this design benefit the Greater Chicago Food Depository - why did you select this specific cause?

SC: When I was a kid, me and my mom would heavily rely on church donation boxes and food drives for food. Food is a human right, and no one should have to experience hunger because of their financial situation! I chose the Greater Chicago Food Depository because they have their own facility and also help other food depositories throughout the city, with particular attention and care towards more impoverished communities around Chicago! 

TSC: When people wear your scrunchie design, how do you hope they feel?

SC: When I get dressed up, sometimes I just stare in the mirror like a bird, typical Leo behavior. I just feel more like myself when I’m expressing my interests and values visually! I hope others feel the same with my scrunchie design. That they feel more like themselves!

TSC: One last question for you today! How do you treat yourself with kindness?

SC: Sometimes treating myself with kindness looks like the stereotypical forms of self-care. I really love steam-masks, which are Korean eye masks that heat up and make your eyes sweaty. Also, I get onsen (hot spring) powders from iHerb. Oftentimes they come from different prefectures of Japan and on the package they educate you on not only where the packets are from, but what locals will use those particular onsen salts for i.e. back aches, improved circulation, etc. Sometimes being kind to myself looks like taking a shower even when I’m depressed and don’t want to or making myself a nice meal. It really depends on the day!

TSC: Thanks for chatting with us, Sage!

You can learn more about Sage by following them on Instagram or visiting their website. You can also shop our “Noodling Around” scrunchie, with original artwork by Sage, on The Scrunchie Club’s website.