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Sara O’Neill’s Wild & Beautiful Design

Sara O’Neill’s Wild & Beautiful Design


Sara O’Neill 

Designer/ artist- Éadach by Sara O’Neill

Q. What’s your typical day?

I’m not a natural early bird because I often draw til after midnight, but I’m making the effort to get up early, coffee & news before walking with our retriever Blyton on the beach or in the forest. The rest of the day can vary.. currently packing Éadach orders, drawing and working on new prints, working on interior projects feature heavily. 

Q.What are you working on right now?

I am currently drawing flowers for a new print.. (poppies today)  the ‘Banbha’ print, in homage to one of the patron goddesses of Ireland that my baby niece was called after.

Q.What role does the wild and nature play in your beautiful work?

It’s hugely important. Vital really. I launched Éadach after moving back to the northcoast from Belfast. Being here on the coast brought back the stories my granny told me as a child, the stories we all share, myths and legends of this island. I started illustrating the stories, and combining the pencil drawings with the incredible spectrum of colours of the coast, Éadach was born.

Often nature is part of the story that inspires my work, and usually a recurring motif in the print as well.. flowers and animals.

On a personal level I find being in nature very inspiring and it encourages my creativity. 

Q. I loved spending time with you in your hometown before all this madness and saw how connected you were to nature. How do you personally connect to nature on an everyday basis now that we’re in lockdown?

Loved having you here! We are spoilt rotten in that we have the beach and a forest on our doorstep, so I walk in one or the other every day. Although we don’t have a garden here I manage to cram quite a lot of plants and flowers into the apartment and balcony and love working on the garden in The Surfer’s House (our holiday rental) My enthusiasm definitely outstrips my expertise in this area but I’ve always loved gardening since I was a kid.

I just love how you can put in a little bit of effort and you are repaid so many times over with beautiful blooms and growth.

I also love wild critters and birds and have my ‘pet’ crows (nicknamed The Morrigan after one of my prints) that visit the balcony for nuts & seeds and as many bees and butterflies as I can attract. 

Q. Do you think a connection to nature and the wild is important for us and if so why?

Absolutely. I think it gives us time to slow down, relax, recharge, reflect, focus and find perspective.

Q. What does your dream garden look like? Anything goes!

I adore secret walled gardens, cottage gardens, wild gardens. Somewhere peaceful, unstructured, old fashioned, with an overgrown look. Filled with blousy, scented blooms, trees, long grasses, bees, birds and butterflies. Weathered vintage furniture and antique textiles. Somewhere to read, eat and snooze, where time seems to stand still.

Q. Do you have any advice for others to connect to nature and the wild more every day?

Depending on your location it can be effortless or seemingly almost impossible to connect with nature. It’s easy for those of us who live on the coast or in the countryside or near parks but what I find really inspiring is to see people in cities and built up areas add a little bit of wild and nature to their surroundings .. pots on a doorstep, a window box, a balcony garden, a rooftop garden.

In south Belfast residents have cleaned up and planted the alleyways and entries at the back of their houses and created incredible shared garden space for their local community.

There’s a masked guy called The Phantom Planter who is planting trees across NI, ‘environmental graffiti’. I love stuff like that.. guerilla gardening, adding a bit of wild and nature and life to somewhere that has had nature taken from it. Imagine if every house and building and structure had a bit of a garden, a couple of pots or window boxes of flowers.. what could that do for the environment, for wildlife, for mental health?

The Messenger print silk twill handrolled scarf, 130cm square, £190,

Q. Your top 3 favourite flowers/plants and why?

Ahhh jaysus. Almost impossible to pick just three! Can I have ‘blossoming trees’ as one? Cherry and apple blossom, magnolia, lilac, jacaranda. I just adore the huge, sudden explosions of colour and beautiful confetti across landscapes and cityscapes, no matter how short lived it is. I love honeysuckle.. the scent on warm summer nights is just gorgeous. And sweetpea.. it reminds me of my grandparents’ and parents’ gardens, is really easy to grow from seed, looks and smells amazing and can keep you in posies all summer long. 

About: Sara O’Neill is a stylist, illustrator, writer and designer whose work has been featured in countless glossy magazine, on major billboard and television campaigns, book and album covers and exhibited worldwide, over the past 13 years. She is a regular contributor to the UK media and was shortlisted as ‘Designer of the Year’ in the prestigious Irish Fashion Innovation Award in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Instagram @saraoneillartist

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