Cropped image of an etched rhino by Sarah Soward. The horns are cut away to show blue fabric underneath.

Laser Etching Rhinos

Everybody knows I love technology, right? I know, I know, most of my artwork on here is oil painting. But! There's a strong digital component to even those pieces of work since I compose most of my paintings in Photoshop and/or Illustrator. It saves paper after all! 

More recently, I started experimenting with using AI art as a sketching device. I'm very careful to make sure that all my end products look like my artwork, whether it's digital, painted, or laser etched. Maintaining the integrity of my work is important to me. Part of how I do that is making sure that I maintain my unique, signature style and am true to the messages of my work.

I'll chat more about AI art later. Today's topic is the laser etching project I'm working on.

Rhinos are my favorite subject matter to paint, draw, and make art about generally. I love their ears and toes as much as their often impressive (and sometimes dainty) horns. There is almost no bad angle on a rhino! They're full of curves, angles, and interesting negative spaces. An artist's dream!

I started painting rhinos back in 1999. I fell in love with them and decided to champion them. I had rhino-themed art shows for years and am beginning to plan another series of them. This is where my laser etcher comes into play.

Image of 5 rhinos, painted in blue by Sarah Soward. The rhinos are stacked on top of each other and at scale. The text to the right of the rhinos reads, Sumatran Rhino, Black Rhino, Javan Rhino, Greater One Horned Rhino, White Rhino, FIVE species of rhino

There are five species of rhinoceros still in existence today. Three of those species are critically endangered. I choose to use my artwork to foster love for various animal species, particularly the rhinoceros. These gorgeous, but often forgotten, animals need all the helping hands they can get. So I donate a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of my artwork to the International Rhino Foundation, and I make art about them. Some of that art ties them to the sacred, as in my Rhinotopia series and my Rhino Moon series. Sometimes, I make art that simply shows how I see them: beautiful, graceful, playful, powerful, and worthy of love.

I decided to bring all my different rhinoceros projects under one theme that is true to the first inkling of the plan I had for Rhinotopia. I wanted rhinos to be everywhere. So I painted them there. They're on the rocky shores of Hawaii, an isolated road in Norway, enshrouded in brilliant clouds, and walking through dreams.

In explaining that to someone, they laughed and said, "Well you wouldn't want a rhino everywhere! I certainly don't want one in my kitchen!"

The thing is, I do want a rhino in my kitchen. More than that, I have three in my kitchen right now.

In that moment I realized that I want A Rhino in Every Home

So I'm making it happen. 

Photograph of a black laser etcher with blue facets. There is a piece of backing wood under the laser etcher.

There is a friendly little laser etcher in my art studio now, nestled between paintings and fabric samples and my general everyday chaos. I'm making designs, testing fabric samples, and looking forward to setting the machine to etch fabric and more while I work on my paintings.

These laser-etched rhinos are the beginning of A Rhino in Every Home. It isn't stopping with only what I can do. Even if the rhino isn't made by me, there should be a rhino in your home too. 

There's a whole House Hippo trend. Why not a Room Rhino? Why not A Rhino in Every Home?

Rhino image being laser etched. Design by Sarah Soward. Part of the design are also cut out so that other color shows through.

Laser etched rhino by Sarah Soward. The rhino's horns are cut out so that other fabric shows through in blue.


Back to blog