Featured Artist: Sarahlaine Calva

Sarahlaine Calva is a first-generation Filipino American artist born and raised in Raleigh, NC. Self-taught, she is best known in the triangle area for her colorful murals and pop art style. Read more about her below and check out her fun and easy Quarantine Zine tutorial that she made!

Photo courtesy of Sarahlaine Calva


Describe your background and how you became an artist. 

I’ve always been an artist at heart, creating things ever since I was a little kid, but it wasn’t till right after high school that I started painting on walls and began considering art as my career. All of high school I would mistakenly think nursing was the path I wanted to take, I had even gone to college for nursing for a bit while having art on my mind and doing projects on the side. It wasn’t till basically failing anatomy twice that it was probably my best interest (including everyone else’s) that I just stick to art. 

Over the past several years, I’ve pursued my love for creating vibrant masterpieces on various scales. By completing murals, I’ve learned the importance of committing myself to a project until its completion, regardless of other outside factors such as weather and time. I never ended up going to art school, but I didn’t let that stop me from being capable of attaining  great artist opportunities. Although, I do hope in the future that I’ll have enough funds to attend art school. 

Photo courtesy of Sarahalaine Calva


Who are some of your inspirations? 

 Some of my biggest inspirations are Keith Haring, Tyler the Creator, Roy Lichtenstein and countless others.


What is your favorite project you’ve worked on? What is your dream project? 

My favorite project that I’ve worked on would have to be The Hillside park basketball court mural I did with FILA last year. My dream project would be having a solo exhibit which I’ll hopefully be able to achieve with you guys soon 🙂 


Photo courtesy of Sarahlaine Calva


What kind of themes do you approach in your work? How has this changed over time? 

I don’t really have a set theme for my work because I like to explore different topics and ideas. I don’t like being restrained to one type of subject in all of my works collectively. 

Photo courtesy of Sarahlaine Calva


What piece of advice would you give aspiring artists? 

Don’t be too hard on yourself and remember to always trust the process no matter how long it takes. I find myself getting frustrated on how long it takes me to complete a piece or come up with a concept sometimes and it just affects the quality of my artwork overall because I am not in the right headspace. If you rush it, it almost feels as if you’re throwing your artwork out there; like it isn’t genuine. When I’m in this situation of art block, I try to not think of the piece I’m currently working on and just occupy and reset my mind doing other productive things till I feel like I’m no longer frustrated. Also don’t feel obligated to accept minuscule art opportunities that you don’t personally feel passionate about doing because in the end it’s just adding onto your workload when you could be focusing on a project you really want to do. 

Photo courtesy of Sarahlaine Calva


What role does the artist have in society? 

There are multiple roles an artist could have. Sometimes an artist’s role in society is to amplify the voices of the unheard through their work. It could also be as simple as brightening up a bleak and boring area to provide a happy and inspiring aura to the place. But of course artists aren’t obligated to create for the public and could just do it for their own enjoyment. I find that most artists get caught up and get overwhelmed about what their arts’ purpose is and it ends up being detrimental for them because it’s too much pressure. I feel like their main role is to just encourage creativity, no matter how old you are and what situation you’re in, because creativity is way more significant than society thinks. 

Photo courtesy of Sarahlaine Calva


More on Sarahlaine

Sarahlaine’s works can be seen all around the triangle area, most notably on the basketball court at Hillside Park in Durham, the bus shelter at Airport Gardens in Chapel Hill, and East End Park in Durham. Stay tuned for Sarahlaine’s solo exhibition with Arts Everywhere in downtown Chapel Hill, slated for Spring 2021. Until then, stay connected with her on her website or via Instagram!