This interview is a follow up from my recent article on job hunting in the economic downturn; which focuses on being a creative in the “real world” and how you can create opportunity and get work.
Sam is a prolific graphic artist. He is best known for creating ‘Dark-Artwork’ for bands such as Rob Zombie, MINISTRY, Rammstein, HIM, A Pale Horse Named Death, Fear Factory, American Head Charge, Powerman 5000, Godhead and Iron Maiden and for the magazines/Comics: Fangoria, LA Weekly, HEAVY METAL Magazine, IDW Publishing including 30 Days of Night and The Call of Cthulhu, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The X-Files, Mars Attacks, The Other Dead, ANGEL, the rock group ‘KISS’ and many more. Other clients include ESP Guitars, Pro-Tone Pedals and CoffinCase.
Without further ado
First of all hello and welcome! It’s good to see you doing what you have always done best – ART. Being a creative can be hard at times and it can be hard to find your position. It’s good to see you doing well.
Q: Has it been an interesting journey?
A: Hi there, it’s a pleasure to speak with you!
It has been an interesting journey indeed, and I still feel as though I’ve only really just begun. I’ve been back and forth to Los Angeles and New York to home in England 15 or more times in the last six years… sometimes it feels like that movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’… or perhaps ‘Fight Club’ where I wake up on a plane talking to myself… that’s interesting.
Q: Was it all planned?
A: In terms of ‘planned’ I’ve always had the personal goals of working in the Rock n’ Metal music industry as a creative heavyweight… so I guess you could say it’s ‘still’ planned.
Q: Do you have a role model?
A: In regards to Artwork I don’t really have one particular role model, though I am influenced by a number of individuals who fuel my drive to strive. Those would be Ashley Wood, Clive Barker, Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha and of course Salvador Dali.
Q: Is the term “Dark-Artist” one that you coined yourself?
A: No, actually it just seems to have stuck over the years. My work has been labelled this in various magazine interviews or the way clients describe my work in meetings or even press releases and reviews, it just seemed to have ‘happened’.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
A: I draw the majority of my inspiration from my collection of antique books on the unexplained, the supernatural, the paranormal and the occult. I also collect various Victorian medical volumes and have an impressive collection of taxidermy and antique curios. The ‘old world’ tends to put me in the right ‘zone’ to create. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, though I feel more comfortable surrounded by unusual curiosities and oddities that we just don’t see every day.
Q: Are there any goals you haven’t yet fulfilled?
A: Finally recording my own music album and putting that out would be one of my bigger goals right now. That IS on the table, with some exciting guest appearances on the record too, however my artwork will always take priority.
Q: Do Americans love the British accent?
A: Yes they do! I have some great friends who work in the entertainment industry, some of whom are voice over artists or actors who forever try to mimic me for their own mental catalogues. But in general, yes – the American people do love the English tongue!
Q: What was your first piece of professional work and how did you come to get the gig?
A: I was headhunted via MySpace back in the mid 2000’s by a company called Bravado to create for Iron Maiden and the Finnish band HIM. After that, the first album sleeve artwork I did was for the industrial LA band Godhead featuring Jason Charles Miller. Then from there I just kept the rock rolling so to speak one client lead to another most reaching out to me online and the portfolio grew.
Q: If you had to write an autobiography, what would the title be?
A: That’s a hard question! I think perhaps… ‘Sam I Am’.
I’d have to really give that some time and thought…
Q: Do you actually meet the artists you produce album art for? If so did you meet Rob Zombie as I think he is the shit (I actually went to see White Zombie when I was 17)!
A: I do meet 90% of the clients I create for and I did meet Rob Zombie, very nice guy, very down to earth. I’m currently creating for his younger Brother ‘Spider’ from ‘Powerman 5000’, I’ve had several meetings with him also. I find the job goes much quicker and easier once there’s good ‘face-time’ involved. That way you can cover a lot ground and really get into the guts of the creative process. This usually results in both the client and myself producing a piece of work we’re both proud of.
I’m also currently creating the MINISTRY comic-book series and working closely with Al Jourgensen and his Wife Angelina who were kind enough to invite me out to stay at their home in Texas for a couple of weeks to creatively discuss where we should take the project… so look out for that!
Q: Have you any advice to readers who may have given up on their dreams of being a creative?
A: If you want something enough, you’ll get it – if you don’t get it, it means you didn’t want it enough… get it…?
Cheers for the interview Mister Sam!
Some of Sam’s work
You can visit Mister Sam’s website here: mister-sam