samspratt‘s sketches and alternative cover for Janelle Monae’s “Electric Lady,” album cover.
PITCHFORK: What were some of your visual inspirations? SAM SPRATT: It was a pretty random palette: Afrofuturism, Androids, uniformity, Mod sorority, a little Prince, a little Donna Summer, a little MJ, a bit of Egypt, a hint of punk, and some cheesy 80s sci-fi. But it wasn’t until several weeks in– upon hearing some of the new tracks, actually– that I was able to bring all of these disparate ideas together.
Every visual inspiration he mentioned, I see VIVIDLY, because all of those inspirations definitely make up Janelle’s image and Cindi Mayweather’s way of expression.
Apparently my 10 year high school reunion is this weekend. While too busy to go, it did prompt me to do a deep dive through some old art from a decade ago during my last semester of Walton high school (as well as some truly harrowing photos of me as an angsty teenager). At that point I didn’t even know that I wanted to be an artist (or if that was even a real job) – but a deep fear of any career relating to math, an obsessive desire for self-improvement, and 10 years of drawing shitty drawing after shitty drawing, it eventually clicked enough that I understood that human faces didn’t look like … that.
Now, I don’t wanna sell the whole generic motivational idea of: “SEE anyone can make it, just work really hard, look at me” line of thinking as I had/have numerous advantages that others do not – with what I look like, where I come from, what I believe, or what I was told I can reach for, never being an impedance. That being said, for any young person reading this that hasn’t been lost to cynicism yet: Man I hope you get the chance to try to do something you love. I hope you have the opportunities you should and people that tell you that you can. I hope that the only barriers for your success are talent and hard work – because that shit can be built even when everything else seems broken. And if the barriers you face are bigger than that, I hope you overcome them against the odds, working harder than I had to even when you shouldn’t have to, just so that the world gets to see what you can do too.