Sam is another one of those folks (Like Alec, the other day) who I always think ‘WTF why don’t we do more with ’em’. His work is dope, he’s prolific and he embodies all the qualities we think makes a great illustrator – down to draw, old skate graphic refs., serious output etc etc. He’s also in a cool little South (boo, hiss) London gang of skater/draw-ers like Kyle Platts, T-Slates and other top folks. We swung by his gaff and chatted to him about his ace weekly NME comic feature ‘Slimezone’, general hustlin’ and getting loads of bad ass clients. Enjoy. Grab a pin by Sam here… Visit Sam’s site here… See the Slimezone Archive here…
Hi Sam, what’s going on today?
Yo. Not much man at the moment, doing a bit of admin then meeting my girlfriend for lunch and then coming home and drawing. Playing football in the evening with the football dudes. Action packed day.
Tell us about a typical working day for you…
Wake up, potter around for a bit, unblock the drain in the garden, coffee, boring shit. Look at blogs. Then I’ll either start an illustration or carry on with one that I’m in the middle of. Usually start drawing at about 1/2 and draw until around 8. Unless the deadline is looming or it’s something complicated or massive, I just draw nonstop until it’s done. Most days are broken up with a little coffee break in Camberwell with whoever else can find the time.
The NME Slimezone stuff must be pretty demanding week-on-week. I can’t imagine how Schulz or someone banged ’em out day-on-day. How’d you get the ideas?
Man, fuck knows. Sometimes it just comes to me and I think “yes that is good”, like if a celebrity that I find interesting does something funny I’ll probably do a spin on that. Sometimes I carry on some personal work and include that. It’s fun ‘cus I can do whatever I want, it doesn’t have to be about music or anything. I like to mix it up. Music stuff, pop culture, history, dumb shit, whatever tickles me that week. It’s hard but I love it and I’m proud of them. I’ve got a range of characters who can tackle any subject. Schulz was just a badman. He’d completely found his voice with Peanuts, he could do it every day because it was him I guess.
Your work’s clearly rooted in skate graphic culture; what are your favourite board graphics of all time? (And who are they by etc etc)
This is super hard so I’m not going to overthink it. The Zero “Skulls” board with the 3 skulls and the blood drip was the first board I thought was cool when I started skating at age 12. My fave old Blind board is the “Accidental Death” Mariano board. Erm, and I really like most of the Polar boards, especially the Jacob Ovgren ones, they have that 90s vibe about them, he’s just so good at drawing too. But I’d say my favourite all time board is the Consolidated “Boobs” board, it’s the best haha.
Skateboarding and drawing go hand-in-hand don’t they? Why do you think this is?
I think it’s because of the freedom of personal expression you experience when skateboarding. You make it all up, learn, fail, learn, fail. You’re in your own zone like when you’re sitting there drawing. Something to do with that. When you’re out in the streets, going to weird places all the time you see weird people. People doing fucked up shit in alleyways an that. Even in skateparks there’s constant madness going on, kids on little motorbikes riding around robbing people and townies throwing shit at you. All makes for a richer experience of life and can be quite inspirational.
You’ve worked for a bunch of big clients. I’m sure people will find it interesting (without revealing your secret blend of herbs and spices) to know how you go about getting work and stuff? From the outside, it’s always seemed to be that, besides your output, you’re just down to draw stuff, and that’s pretty endearing to clients…
Haha thanks man. There is no secret. I wish it were that easy. You just have to draw all the time, it’s the most cliché thing in the world but it’s true. Also, be nice to people all the time. Be adaptable and helpful, try your hardest to make the project fun for everyone involved. If the client wants to remove a cigarette from a characters mouth (something I get all the time) just do it, add something else that makes the illustration pop. I see the challenge of being a full-time illustrator as an art in it’s self, you need to balance things but also make sure you’re happy with the outcome and if making some little changes ruins that for you then maybe the illustration wasn’t that good to begin with. I also do a lot of personal work. This always ties in to whatever I do for a client. I’m always drawing and updating my socials with new stuff, which keeps things moving even if the jobs aren’t coming in. I get addicted to new things and then draw them constantly until they’re rinsed out (sometimes this can take years). So yeah, be adaptable and draw all the time. Do personal work. Hustle. Keep busy.
What’s your all-time favourite commercial project and why?
All the stuff I’ve done for Converse, nothing else really comes close as far as ‘commercial work’ goes. Posters, billboards, murals, art direction for events, live drawing, they even flew me to Lisbon for a photo shoot and we ate the biggest crabs, haha. I have a good relationship with them, everyone’s really friendly and they basically let me do what I want. Which is amazing. That sort of job is pretty rare so I really appreciate it. I’ve got some cool stuff coming out too with another global brand but I can’t talk about it or I’ll get lawyer’d up.
Who’s work are you feeling at the moment?
Man, so many people. I’ll narrow it down to five. I’m a sucker for Michale Deforge, his use of space and colour schemes are beautiful. Julian Glander makes me laugh every time, it’s those little puffy cheeks on his dogs, I know it’s coming but it still gets me. Stephen M Graham is great too, all his VICE Gaming stuff is banging. Jon Boam, always Jon Boam. And Michael Olivo, I’ve just started following him on Tumblr and don’t really know too much about him but he’s fucking sick.
Cheers! In a bit.
You can grab some of Sam’s new pin badges below or here…