From earrings and socks to prints and stickers, local artist Ciara Sana offers a variety of whimsical accessories and art pieces that reflect her culture, speak to communities of color, and promote self-acceptance.
Sana was born and raised on the island of Guam. As an artist, she draws inspiration from her heritage and the colorful lifestyle and cultures found on the island.
“I miss being on the island, and I miss my family,” she says. “Doing art in ways that speak to them and people with similar stories keeps me connected to them.”
While there’s something for everyone to relate to in Sana’s pieces, she says there’s a large Pacific Islander/Asian population out there that her art resonates with in a unique way.
“My culture is very important to me. I love sparking joy, nostalgia, and making people of color feel seen through my work,” she says.
The Power of Local
Sana moved to Bellingham to sell her work back in 2013, beginning with an art show at The Shakedown. While you can now find her work at local retailers like Brazen Shop + Studio, Third Planet, Fringe Boutique, and Elizabeth Station, most of Sana’s operations are conducted online through her website and social media platforms.
“Social media has been crucial for my business,” she says. “I am thankful for how it brings people close together from all parts of the world… It has allowed me to find my audience.”
Though Sana’s work has an international reach, she says the Bellingham art community has provided a safe, supportive environment for her to grow. As a self-taught artist, she now takes every opportunity to pay it forward and share her experiences with artists just starting out.
“I want people to know that this journey has not been easy,” she says. “I got to where I am by a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears.”
Much like her own journey, Sana’s art has changed over time. When she first decided to pursue art, acrylic paint was her medium of choice. After years of experimentation with wood paint, gouache, pen, and ink, she finally stumbled upon digital illustration.
“At first I hated it. It was difficult, and I had no experience with digital or graphic design,” she says. “I just started playing around, and over time, I fell in love.”
Sana now almost exclusively uses her iPad to illustrate and bring her work to life, creating drawings that become stickers, jewelry, socks, and bandanas.
Some of her favorite and best-selling items are earrings, in popular designs like “Snakes” ($25) and “Day and Night” ($25).
On the Horizon
Throughout the whirlwind of the pandemic, Sana has remained determined. When faced with the obstacles of COVID-19 as a business owner, she decided to focus on positivity and giving back through giveaways and sales.
“I know it has been a challenging time for a lot of people, so I wanted to try and give joy where I could,” she says. “In return, people supported my business and the message I had through my work. I cannot be more grateful for them.”
Currently, Sana is focused on finishing up former projects while preparing for motherhood. She’s hoping the experience of having a baby will also result in authentic motherhood-related artwork.
“This experience has been difficult for me, but is such a blessing. Creating life takes a lot of work, and I can’t wait to create art that celebrates that.”
To learn more about Ciara Sana or shop her art, visit artbyciara.com.