An Afternoon With…Savannah Graham

Some days I take a step back and try to absorb all of the cool things my friends are up to. I am lucky to surround myself with people from every creative walk of life, including filmmakers, yogis, jewelry maker musiciansdancers and so many more! When I reflect on this flurry of creation around me, what always interests me most is the how and why?

In our society, we often focus on the end product, the shiny achievement and less on what it took to make that achievement happen. My goal is to peel back the top-layer of what it is someone does and find out what’s underneath. I want to learn about the hard work that goes into developing a passion. I want to know how many hours of sweat and frustration it takes, and I want to know the inspiration — the fuel that keeps these people going.

That’s just what I attempt to do in my “A Day With” series. I shadow one of the many interesting people I am fortunate to call friends, learn about their experience and get some insight into their thoughts.

Today, I am happy to introduce you to my friend, Savannah Graham. Savannah is a talented artist living in Pittsburgh. Barista by day, artist by night. Her work will blow you away and her sense of humor and warmth is what will really win your admiration.

Take a peek into Savannah’s world and her beautiful creations.

Savannah_Graham_Pittsburgh_Artists_SenskyPhoto by New London Imaging

Name: Savannah Graham

Age: 21

Passion: Artist & Activist

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

How we met: I met Savannah at a farmer’s market with my roommate. We were desperate for some morning caffeine and Savannah was manning the coffee stand. We had a nice chat with her there and went on our way. Then, lo and behold, later that night we were attending a friends party and we see Savannah there. Turns out she lives at the house of the party — small Pittsburgh world! After viewing Savannah’s work at the party and hearing her stories of travel and activist work against sex trafficking, I knew this was one cool chick I wanted to spend more time with.


Savannah_Graham_PittsburghArtists_ArtPGH_6Savannah invited me over to her house for an afternoon to watch her work and answer some questions. I was immediately put at ease by the effortless flow of conversation and the calming effect of watching her paint.

Savannah_Graham_PittsburghArtists_ArtPGH_5The subjects of her paintings are usually human faces. Each face is at once realistic and otherworldly. They offer room for fantasy while connecting you to the world through their undeniable humanity.

Savannah has a grounded and eloquent way of speaking about herself. She is truly wise beyond her years. You can see what I mean below as I ask Savannah some questions. We talk world travels, finding motivation and how, for her, making art is like being in love.

You mentioned the personas of the different people in your paintings, could you give a brief description of what each one represents to you?

The different personas each represent something that I am learning or want to learn. From understanding what true peace means to being okay with feeling a little lost, they each hold a piece of who I am and how I see the world. I like doing portraits because I like having someone to look at — to relate to, to pull something out of.


When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist? 

It took me a while to see myself as an artist. I always evaded seeing myself as an artist because I didn’t like the temperament or the unsureness of what being freelance meant. But somehow creative positions kept falling in my lap, and It became inevitable for me to pursue art. I moved to Germany in March of 2013 to pursue missions and art, and I think it was the push I needed to see myself as an artist.

How does art fuel you? 

I find that creating art is like being in love for me. When I’m in the midst of a project, it’s all I can see, all I want to do, all I can think about. It consumes me. If I’m not being creative, then I am a different person, less focused, more moody. I would say I have a pretty stereotypical artist temperament (laughing).


Photo by Lindsey Cahue 

How do you stay motivated to keep working on painting after a long-day at work?

I like art being the thing I come home to and not how I pay the bills. It takes a lot of pressure to perform off of me. I feel like I am almost more creative in this time where I am still trying to perfect my skill and even strengthen my concepts, I can be insecure about my work and it’s okay. I can be confident about my work and it’s okay, because my well-being doesn’t depend on it. One day I’d like to do art full time, but I know that I will have to have another outlet so that my work is romantic still. I look forward to coming home and being able to relax with a pen in hand with music blasting. It’s cool to get through a day and know I have that to come home to.


Photo by Lindsey Cahue  

Where have you traveled and what organizations were you with? How do you think your travels have impacted what you create now?

I’ve travelled all over. I worked with Youth With a Mission for a year and a half give or take and under the ministry Pick a Pocket for 8 months. It was an awesome opportunity to be living in a community with other artists, travel with other artists and just do life with them. I feel like it’s shaped my world view and my art a whole lot. I’ve seen some heart breaking things and seen things that inspire the masses, and all in all, it has really impacted every aspect about me. I’ve been to Thailand, China, India, Guatemala, Macedonia, Scotland to name a few and lived in Germany.


Savannah is gearing up for a trip to China in October to show her work (!!!!). You can follow her adventures here and here.

Thanks Savannah for your time and sharing your lovely self!

I’m on a quest to understand how people stay motivated, how they know they are working on the right things, how they translate the follow your passion maxim into their everyday world. Thoughts? Know of anyone I should interview? Leave em’ in the comments!



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