“The creative adult is the inner child that survived.”
– Ursula K. Le Guin.
There are some quotations that cleverly sums up one’s whole existence, like a literary embodiment of one’s essence. The opening quotation by Ursula K. Le Guin describes artist Richard Saja to a tee. Some of us never forget to retain that wonderment that once plagued us as children. There is an undying youth is Saja’s eyes, a glint of enthusiasm that indicates a thirst for life. Although Saja is very much a manchild, he takes himself and his craft quite seriously. A fine art embroider living in the Woodside area of Queens, Saja spends most of his time with his head in the sand–the sand being his work.
No one does what Richard Saja does. They are incapable of executing his flawless technique or imitating his whimsy. A master manipulator of the toil, Saja’s journey to perfection isn’t as formal as you think. He wasn’t a child prodigy who had his pieces hanging in Louvre before his tenth birthday. Not much of a painter or drawer, Saja was an artistic knockabout hell-bent on making things with his hands. Although paints and pencils aren’t his forte, Saja’s ability to alter reality with his bare mitts wasn’t something to be ignored.
For those who remember, we featured a pair of limited edition Keds by Saja a few weeks back. We raved over the shoes and promised to find them, even if it killed us. Saja caught wind of our suicide mission and promptly informed us that the infamous sneakers were long gone, never to be worn by our feet ever. We were awfully bummed, but we took the opportunity to extend our friendship to Richard and visit him at his Queens home. It’s not everyday that you run into a fine art embroiderer, so we sat down to talk about his upbringing, his craft, and his journey as an artist.