Local Artist Finds Solace In Her Work

Sarah Gust is a self taught artist living and working out of her home studio in Bowling Green. Gust says she surrounds herself with plants so she can have her inspiration around her at all times.

Kelley Holland

By making her studio look and feel comfortable with plenty of candles and plants, local artist Sarah Gust is prepared to get to work. 

Her typical routine starts with surrounding herself by books she finds inspiring as well as a collection of stones. Gust will then sift through notebooks filled with her sketches. She often revisits old sketches and revises them by adding color, serving as a way to build momentum for bigger projects.

Originally from Minnesota, Gust moved to Tampa, Florida, where she lived for five years and attended Florida College. She also worked at Busch Gardens as a professional body artist, painting faces and doing henna tattoos. 

Eventually, she found herself in Bowling Green to attend WKU and to be closer to her friends, although she ended up deciding not to go back to school. Instead, she freelanced and took up any jobs that allowed her to continue using her creativity, such as commissioned portraits, teaching private art lessons and selling at local shops in Bowling Green.

Now, Gust owns Folk Sense Arts, where she sells her artwork. Some of the items for sale include colorful sketches and portraits of pop culture and historical icons like David Bowie, Frida Kahlo and Prince. 

Growing up in a family of extroverted musicians, Gust said she had to find her personal identity through her artwork.

“I was never sure what I wanted to do but have always been drawn to the arts and knew that I would do whatever it took to stay near my creative expression,” Gust said in an email. 

Working mainly with Gouache, an opaque type of paint, Gust said she finds it hard to pinpoint one thing that inspires her work. She typically paints whatever or whoever inspires her at the time. Describing her work as whimsical mixed media pop or folk art, Gust is typically entranced by females who share her values as well as places she’s traveled.

“I wholeheartedly feel like art helps me process through my feelings and grounds me when I get unbalanced,” Gust said. “Art is also my second therapist because every project reveals my weaknesses and strengths.”

Gust’s best friend, Sara Volpi, met her around 2013 through a mutual friend. The two bond over art and sometimes collaborate together. The two previously rented a studio space downtown, where they would meet after work. Sometimes staying until 2 or 3 a.m., the two would work on projects or brainstorm ideas.

“Sarah has helped me push my creative potential further than I thought I could while also keeping me grounded,” Volpi said in an email. “She’s a fantastic person to bounce ideas off of.”

Volpi described Gust’s work as cheerful, lively and vibrant. She said Gust changed her mind about using pastels and drawing on inanimate objects.

“That girl can draw on a window pane and turn it into a lovely work of art,” Volpi said. 

In addition to Folk Sense Arts, Gust is also the founder of the Bowling Green Makers, which is a group she created to foster community among local makers and artisans. The group allows local artists to come together and let their work be seen. 

“Sarah founded the Bowling Green Makers as a place where artists could come together and get their art out into the world,” Volpi said. “It has been a great success, spawning similar groups in Bowling Green.”

Gust credits her close friends with giving her the inspiration to keep growing creatively. A self-proclaimed introvert, she said her work has allowed her to stay connected to the outside world. 

Gust said her ultimate goal while creating art is gaining a sense of freedom. She hopes to connect with a diverse audience, inspire and educate others to stay in touch with their true selves.

“I guess art is an outlet to bring out the beauty that already exists around me every day,” Gust said. “I create to get myself in a better headspace, to spread good vibes and help remind myself and others not to take life too seriously.” 


Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].