This is the Body Liberation Photos Ask a Fat Creator (and Allies) series, in which we find out more about the lives, work and breakfasts of all kinds of large-bodied and marginalized creators.
June’s Ask a Fat Creator interview is with sculptor and illustrator Saya Collins. For Saya, sculpture is more than an art form. It is a connection to their ancestry, to history, and to the earth itself. It is an extension of their mind, imagination and dreams.
“The pieces I create are not perfect. They take a bit of me. I’m odd and I’m memorable, I love myself, and I love my work. Through my pieces I express my joy, my hopes, all of my experiences over the continuing course of my existence. Each piece is a piece of me, and when people see my work, I hope that they can feel a bit of the life I have put into it, and smile.”– Saya Collins
Tell me about you! What’s your name? What pronouns do you use? Where do you live? What do you like to eat for breakfast?
The name I have given myself is Saya, and I use they/them pronouns. I live in Tacoma Washington with 3 dogs, 2 partners, 5 ghost mantises, 3 lizards and soon, some chickens! My favorite breakfast is salmon patties and biscuits with syrup!
What is your business, and how does it make a difference in the world?
My business is creation. I hope that it brings a small bit of joy to those who see it, and maybe that helps the world a little bit? We need more joy, more laughter and delight. It’s small, but it’s something.
Why is what you do important? How does it change the way people see or how they feel about their bodies?
To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s important to me. For me, it helps me see my body as art, as something powerful and lasting. I like to sculpt forms that reflect my own softness, and the act of creation, burying my hands in clay and pulling life from it, reminds me that my body has value beyond its appearance. My body allows me to make wonderful things. I love and appreciate it every day. There is strength and beauty beyond western standards, and I feel like it’s important to remember that.
What’s your most popular item/service, or the one you most enjoy doing/making?
My most popular item right now has got to be my teapets! They’re available at tea shops and galleries in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland now!
How does body positivity or fat positivity make your business different from others in your field? What has your experience been like?
One thing I notice when I’m vending at a show and my body bottles or venues are available, is the sheer number of larger bodied people that come up and receive my work with wonder. Sometimes there is a moment of realization when they see my work of “I look like that and that’s pretty so I must be too” and it fills my heart with joy. When I did a run of venus pendants based on my friends’ body types, those pieces sold out in moments. We are beautiful and worthy and sometimes I guess we need modern day art reminders.
Can you share an instance where you made a real difference for a customer, or had some really great feedback from them about your body-positive work?
Heehee oh my gosh when I met an body-positive cosplayer of color at Geek Girl Con a few years ago!! She was walking past my work and she stopped and did a double take and then started talking to me about my art! She said that she does what she does to show big girls that they can cosplay too and that she appreciated seeing someone else showing up for us too in another aspect of con life. We talked about godesses and how our bodies carry us through so much and it was just so dang cool. Does that count?
How did you discover body acceptance or body positivity personally? What kind of difference has it made for you?
This is a hard question. Is has been, and still is, a long and difficult road. But it probably wouldn’t have happened without clay. I’m not sure how to explain it in a way that makes reading easy, but as I continued creating art, I began to consciously appreciate what I could do. This body let’s me create fun things, it lets me bake and enjoy delicious foods, it lets me feel the sun on my skin and the clay between my fingers. I started trying to appreciate what it can do, how it feels. I love to squish clay and knead dough, so why shouldn’t I love touching my soft, squishy body? I love delicious snacks, so why should I hate my body for loving them too? Basically I just started treating myself like a big, soft, dragon, giving myself tribute and marveling in the things it lets me do, and so far so good!
What advice do you have for other people who are learning to love and accept their bodies?
Try not to focus on outside expectations. They don’t have any bearing on your worth. Focus on what your body lets you do. Feel the sun on your skin, enjoy a treat, create something. These things are amazing and valuable. Your body gives you these amazing powers of sense and feeling and being. Focus on taking care of it, moisturize your skin, love on your hair. Feel your body and understand that it is yours alone, to do with whatever you see fit.
What advice do you have for other business owners who’d like to incorporate body acceptance into their work?
Do it!! There will definitely be someone out there who will notice, and feel seen.
Where can we find more of your amazing work?
My work can be found physically at Full Moon Flea Market in Tacoma (WA), Gallery Boom in Olympia (WA), Friday Afternoon Tea and Distant Worlds Coffee in Seattle, and the Fernie Brae in Portland (OR)!
I’m also finally opening up my own physical location in Tacoma! We will have a gallery side for art from local creatives and a classroom side for workshops, lessons, and studio time! For updates and info on that project, please follow @basking_dragons on Instagram and Facebook!
Find more of Saya: