spratt's soapbox

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.

anonymous asked:

You're an extremely talented artist that could represent anything. Why do you choose to depict celebrities and iconic figures? I believe your artwork could have so much more merit and can contribute much more to society then just entertainment. You even have your symbol as the golden spiral, which I find rather smug for an artist who creates "fan art". I don't intend to offend, it just greatly bothers me to see such a talented artist create advertisement and I would like to know why.

Oh boy.

“Smug” is arbitrarily thinking that one entire genre of art is less than another. 

“Smug” is anonymous back-handed compliments that insult an entire group of artists while trying to police what I choose to make.

“Smug” is thinking that you bestow merit to art and decide its value or contribution to society — or that it needs to do that to begin with.

“Smug” is believing that advertisements are something that automatically lessens art when some of the best painters and works throughout art history, from Leonardo to Caravaggio to Rockwell and Leyendecker have worked in advertising for clients (churches included).

“Smug” is looking at my portfolio of hundreds of paintings over 3 years that cover dozens of genres, styles, subject matters, clients, and sits everywhere from the internet, to billboards, album covers, magazine covers, galleries, newspapers, movie posters, bus-sides, books, homes of friends, strangers, and celebrities, and still choosing to think that I am one thing — a thing that is just as valuable to me as everything I’m paid for professionally.

“Smug” is being a smug dicklet and throwing in “I don’t intend to offend” to cushion the smug dickletishness of it all.

“Smug” is not seeing a simplistic connection between realism in painting and the golden rule that is genre-irrelevant, but again insulting an entire group of artists while commenting on something you haven’t bothered to understand. 

But most of all, “Smug” is thinking that I, or any artist, owes you anything. We can make whatever we want, however we want to. I will keep making advertisements, I will keep making album covers, I will keep making posters for games and movies, I will keep making all that I’m hired to do and choose to take on, but I will also keep making fan art because despite the merit or value that you’ve decided it has — I want to — and that’s all the reason I need.

Take your soggy waffle compliments and fuck the fuck off. Viva la fan art.

anonymous asked:

Hey Sam, I'm trying to find my style in illustration. How did you find yours?

Today I was waiting to cross the street at a corner in Brooklyn. Now, in New York, animals are pretty cozy being near humans and you really need to aggressively invade their space for them to flee in the same way a non-city-dwelling self-preserving animal would. So when I was standing at this street corner and this tiny bird was unflinching, walking near my feet, and then started awkwardly hopping directly in front of a car making a turn, I panicked and jolted after it to herd it away from being crushed. While this definitely angered the driver, I did succeed in getting the little thing onto the sidewalk — however, I quickly noticed that its wing had clearly been extremely banged up.

I don’t particularly like animals, I’ve never owned a pet, and am not a terribly compassionate person, but I do have the bare-minimum feeling of “I don’t like seeing things die” so for the next 10 minutes I chased and scooped this little fucking bird around trying to keep it on the sidewalk because it kept hobbling back into the middle of the street. At one point my scoop-throw resulted in it getting solid hang time and seemingly soaring off, only for it to quickly arc back towards me in a boomerang fashion and hop back into traffic. I looked like an absolute idiot, I’m sure that I got all kinds of weird bird diseases in the process, but I was so frustrated by this bird’s poor decision making that for those 10 minutes, I kept with it. It hopped to its near death, I scurried after it and scooped it back onto the sidewalk. Hopped again, scurried, scooped, saved, then back again. It was like helping every friend anyone has ever had who makes terrible choices and then continues to make them. Eventually though, my patience wore thin and I wasn’t about to take it home, nurse it back to health with a tiny yet adorable wing bandage, and become emotionally invested in its well-being only for it to one day fly away. So I walked away. Most people did just that from the get go, others stood and watched, some would make awkward little half-steps to try to help too, and after I left, maybe someone far better took on the potential heartbreak and made a micro-wing-splint out of toothpicks and tissue paper, then lovingly named it Pidgeotto … but I was presented with a situation and I handled it in the way that felt natural to me. It was exactly what I would do. There were a million other things to do instead that could’ve been more helpful, more interesting, more evil, more apathetic, and everything in between — but this particular set of actions was mine — the most natural thing I could do.

I tell you this dumb little story as a response to your very explicitly artsy question, because a) deal with it and 2) style just isn’t formed through a plan. It’s not a set of rules and guidelines that you follow and check off as you create a painting. If I need to lay down a brushstroke, I’m not thinking how I should do that, the length, the pressure, the speed, the color, the variation, the texture — I’m just laying a line down in the way that feels most natural to me in that moment. I can gather a thousand images that other people have made and say “I like these colors or this lighting or this line work or this composition or this whatever” and I do, but at the end of the day, I can only like those styles passively because when pen meets paper (so to speak), my personality and affinity for doing things in my own way will always beat out what’s right, wrong, better, worse, trendier, sexier, uglier, or different. We CAN follow guidelines to make our work look like other work or to do what seems like the most obvious choice when confronted with an injured bird with very poor self-preservation skills, but I found my style through dumb little situations like these where I wasn’t following a bible of moral or artistic codes, just by doing exactly what I would do. Not my fantasy version of myself who can paint exactly like Caravaggio and heroically slow-motion dived to save an innocent bird from an Escalade driven by Hitler while Natalie Dormer watched, but the one who paints like I do and bumbles around swearing at a bird to not get itself killed for 10 minutes and then giving up because there was a clear language barrier between us and I wasn’t prepared for a long-term commitment with pidgeotto.

anonymous asked:

Hi Sam! What's your opinion on having connections to the art and entertainment industry in order to get the chance to succeed? If that's the case, I think a lot of people will have a little chance on making it as an illustrator. I was wondering, do you have connections when you started?

If you have connections, by all means – use them, but I can’t say that I did. While I’ve worked hard, it came easily and organically just because of the right work made at the right time and seen by the right people. Whether that’s my own doing or some planetary retrograde space magic, I do not know.

My “in” can be traced pretty easily:

I painted some fan art of Inspector Spacetime several years ago and it was passed around across tumblr and maybe reddit, then Childish Gambino’s art director, Ibra, saw it and hired me to work with Donald on American Royalty. That gave me a high profile client, a body of work, as well as a portfolio that honestly just happened to represent some races other than white people, which, while at the time didn’t really register – was apparently rare enough that it ultimately enabled opportunities like working with Janelle Monae. From speaking with her creative director at the time, they were searching for a realistic painter that could take heavy direction and had diversity/representation in their portfolio. Most art directors can see an entire portfolio of beautiful work, but if they don’t see some part of the job they want to get done in it, they will look for someone who has already proven they can rather than making the leap to assume that first painter who doesn’t have who they’re looking for represented can take it on. Right work, right time, right people, etc. Once The Electric Lady came out, things get murky as it all just sort of snowballed across entertainment industries: gaming, film, tv, music, etc.  I definitely would’ve never gotten that job without working for Donald and Ibra as I definitely can’t pretend that I would’ve made a series of vignettes on black americana without them hiring me to – few things could be further outside my bubble of experience or knowledge.

Work, Luck, Space Magic, who knows, but every time I release a project I’m thankful Ibra saw that piece of Community fan art and it’s totally fair that he continues to lord that over me years later.

anonymous asked:

I don't know what to call my art/graphic design blog. And I don't have a fancy name that sounds good like yours. Mine is weird and hard to pronounce. Can you help or give any advice?

I lucked out with a simple alliteration for a name at birth, but if you don’t like your own given one — or you question how marketable it might be — just come up with literally any other one you want. Charles Dodgson, Onika Maraj, Dominikos Theotokpulos, and Aubrey Graham are just a few people who did so, and things worked out alright for them.

That said, I do have some suggestions for artist pseudonyms:

  • Dirk Chestchin
  • Ella Telenovella
  • Garbáge
  • Paint Panther
  • Ceyoncé
  • Brock Ketchum
  • uhuh
  • Eggplant Emoji
  • Kony
  • Salazar Gringot
  • Ibu
  • Roy Biv
  • Samantha Spratt

Best of luck with your #brand