Artist Sari Shryack inspires creators from Austin and beyond.
By Peyton Sims, Photos by Peyton Sims
While Sari Shryack’s 1950s-built home may appear simple on the outside, the inside radiates with color, from her bright pink hair to her canvas-crowded walls—all of her own creation.
Sari and her husband, Lincoln, start their morning early in Taylor, Texas, a town 40 minutes north of Austin. After Lincoln drops their 7-year-old son off at first grade, he and Sari talk over a cup of coffee. Then when their 2-year-old daughter is ready for her morning nap, Sari takes that as her cue to head to her studio.
It’s time for Sari to spend the rest of the day creating.
As a young girl growing up “way below the poverty line,” Sari wasn’t exposed to anything artistic, with the exception of fine art shown on PBS.
To compensate, Sari created her own artistic world by doodling. For inspiration, she’d flip through catalogs that laid around her house: Cosmo, Seventeen, her mom’s advertisements and whatever else she could get her hands on. Throughout the years, her simple sketches grew into an art business.
“When I first started my art, I was in a tiny little apartment,” Sari said. “It was so small; I would unroll a yoga mat; I had a container for my watercolors, and that was my studio.”
While Sari wasn’t certain about what direction she wanted to go in life, she knew art wasn’t only something she enjoyed; it was something she needed. After graduating from art school at Drury University in Springfield, MO, Sari moved to Austin with Lincoln. On Jan. 1, 2016, she posted her first drawing to Instagram. Six years later, she has more than 251,000 supporters on the app.
“I posted to Instagram for accountability, and it basically snowballed into what it is now,” Sari says. “Now it’s a legit business where I get to make art every day.”
Her brand Not Sorry Art came about after people kept incorrectly pronouncing her name as “sorry.” Being the quiet person she was, she was too shy to correct anyone.
“When I was starting my art business, I was the kind of person where somebody could have plowed into me, and I would have apologized; it’s just my personality,” she says. “I wanted to embody a more unapologetic self in the name, and I wanted to have more of a presence. I thought if I gave myself the name ‘Not Sorry Art,’ I could inhabit that.”
As Sari’s art commissions began to pick up during the pandemic, she and Lincoln welcomed their second baby into the family. It didn’t take long for Sari to realize her art business was a job she couldn’t do alone. After lots of thoughtful conversations, Lincoln decided to step away from his freelance journalism career to work for Sari’s business full time.
“It made more sense for me to transition to working for her full time,” he says. “Sari has a really clear vision of what she wants to accomplish. She has a plan, and she’s really self-motivated.”
Beyond her one-of-a-kind painting style and expanding art business, Sari is conscious about sustainability in the art world.
“I try not to waste my acrylic paint because it is pretty bad for the environment,” she says. “I’m really mindful of how I dispose of things. Also, I’m careful with how I dispose of the water. When I’m done with my paint, I do an evaporation system.”
Her current studio is a shed in her fenced-in backyard that overflows with canvases and vibrant acrylic paints. When you slide open the glass doors, you notice a white drop sheet hanging from the wall. Over the course of a few months, it becomes layered with dried acrylic paint. But instead of tossing the spattered sheet in the trash, Sari gets creative.
“The drop cloth gets really thick and textured,” she explains. “I frame little scraps of it where it’s uniquely colored and sell them, and I’ve used them to make T-shirts or tote bags. I try to waste as little as humanly possible.”
At 31 years old, Sari’s name continues to grow on social media. She’s become a successful business owner, started “Not Sorry Art School” and gives away four different art scholarships a year.
“If we didn’t live in a dog-eat-dog world, I would probably give all my money away for free,” Sari says. “I still have lots of free information on my Instagram and TikTok. I’m always teaching and answering questions.”
In her Not Sorry Art School, she teaches other artists how to apply unique techniques, practice sustainability and dig their way out of a creative rut.
“I went to art school, and I always wanted to be an artist for a living, but I didn’t know how to approach that,” artist Sarah Heinbaugh says. “My coworker recommended that I follow Sari, and she showed me her Instagram feed. I was taken aback by her work; it really caught my eye.”
Throughout Sari’s career, she never would’ve imagined she’d be where she is today. While she’s known for inspiring fellow artists, her own supporters inspire her just as much.
“The core of what I’m inspired by is just connecting with people,” she says. “If I can empower people to go after their dream of being an artist, then my job is done.”
The More You Know:
Acrylic paint is made of acrylic polymers, which are microscopic plastics. When acrylic paint or water waste is poured down the drain, those polymers go straight to our local water sources. It’s illegal to wrongfully dispose of paint due to the harm it has on the ecosystem. Instead of washing acrylic paint down the drain, there are plenty of other sustainable options.
Sustainable Options for Acrylic Paint:
- Evaporate the water you used to rinse off your acrylic paint in
- Let your acrylic paint fully dry into a solid form before disposing of it in the garbage
- Donate unused acrylic paints instead of disposing of them
- Seal off any paint cans or containers before throwing them away