We had the good fortune of connecting with Sage Magee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sage, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m originally from right here in SoCal. I lived in Kansas for a few years and went to college on the east coast. Being raised primarily in Southern California meant I was exposed to all different kinds of people, languages, and cultures. It was a very unique experience for me as a mixed-race Black Biracial person because greater LA is more of a tossed salad than a melting pot. There are a wide variety of people but we all tend to cluster together with our own, which meant I saw every color of the rainbow but never saw many other biracial people. There’s no such thing as LA’s biracial neighborhood. It stood out to me since childhood that I was different but never in a bad way. That was the impetus for me co-writing and illustrating I Love Grandma’s House: A Biracial Girl and Her Two Special Worlds.
I Love Grandma’s House is about a little Biracial girl visiting her black and white grandmothers and how different they are, though they love her just the same. I wanted other kids who grew up like me not seeing themselves in books, media, or even their own neighborhoods to have a positive reflection of their lives. And most importantly, it’s not about reassuring mixed-race kids it’s okay to be different, there’s a story beyond that narrow message.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a mixed media artist and illustrator. I have been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember. I was very fortunate to have grown up with artists on both sides of my family, so I was constantly surrounded by creativity. This has meant that I don’t see art as a thing that I do but rather as a critical part of who I am.
My art is three-dimensional, vibrant, and totally unmistakably mine. I work a lot with textured gel mediums, artisan paper, and found objects. These all come together as disparate pieces that ultimately form a harmonious union.
I’m still early in my journey, but just getting here wasn’t easy. One of the greatest challenges I faced was my own self-doubt. It can be paralyzing if you don’t have people to inspire you and lift you up along the way. I overcame my own self-doubt by pushing through with the encouragement of my girlfriend, to see my projects to the end to realize the vision was worth it all along, as well as reaching out to more established professionals for guidance.
I want the world to know this is just the start for me. My art will be seen far and wide if I have anything to say about it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m going to assume for this that we’re past the pandemic.
I would first take my friend to eat at Mels on Sunset, they have some of the best french fries in the city and I’ll fight anyone on that. It’s cliche but in the evening I’d have to take them to see the Griffeth Observatory. I’m a huge astronomy nerd and most of my friends are science enthusiasts too so I know they’d appreciate the exhibits and the amazing planetarium show as well as the unbeatable view of the city.
In the daytime, I’d take my friend to a sight I’ve wanted to see myself for ages, the Watts Towers. I’d then round out the evening with a trip down Venice Beach to see all of its funky wonders. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Shoutout goes to Adjoa Burrows. Adjoa is another woman of color who is an artist and picture book illustrator. I found her work when I was in a dark creative rut, so bad I was considering giving up on my book entirely. My style is mixed media and I began to get severely down on myself that no one wanted to see my style of art because I couldn’t find any recently published books that were aesthetically similar. Then I stumbled upon Grandma’s Purple Flowers and it sparked hope in me. While her work isn’t identical, it’s similar in composition and material use and that’s what I needed to see: successfully published work like my own. I looked into the creator only to find she was a woman of color like me, thriving in a space that was never designed with her in mind. I reached out to Adjoa to tell her what an inspiration she was to me and we’re now in contact, mutual fans of one another’s work.