Continuing on with Sunday Artist Interviews – many are lined up, so keep checking back – here’s Sam to tell you a little about herself and her work…
First of all, who are you?
Hello. My name is Sam and I’m a full time artist (drawing and painting) living and working in the bottom corner of Dorset near to Lyme Regis. I work under the name Sam Cannon Art. I have a desk set up in the corner of my lounge where I paint and draw and rub things out a lot. I live here with my son who’s just turned 18 and my home adjoins that of my parents – so three generations all together. We have 8 acres of land where my old horse Dylan and his friend live. And then there’s Bella, our 4 year old crazy English Bull Terrier who makes us all smile. I gave up a job working for Surrey Police in their CID department (not as a police officer) and moved down here from just outside Godalming in Surrey when my childcare (mum) moved 10 years ago. And then tried for the second time in my life to earn a living as an artist.
When you were asked (all those years ago!), “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What did you answer
I was in two minds about this. I loved horses and loved art. Both meant a life of poverty were my certain future. Still undecided, I was really poorly from 15 to 17 with glandular fever and did most of my exams at College when I was 17 instead of school at 16. College was great – a breath of fresh air after years of bullying at school – so I then did A levels too. I was still mad on horses but loved art and wanted to do that. My dad though felt I’d never earn a living so I thought I’d compromise and do a design degree instead. I ended up applying to Reading University and did a 4 year course in Typography and Graphic Communication. This didn’t involve any illustration or drawing. But we did have visiting lecturers who taught us photography, glass engraving, marbling, book making etc…. But it was very much about the nitty gritty of typographic design, information design and the history of the letterform. I loved it.
What is the funniest thing as an artist that has ever happened to you?
This isn’t really funny but it is kind of nice. I had a message to say that Valerie Singleton – a former Blue Peter presenter – had bought one of my prints from a shop. It was kind of nice to know that someone who worked for a show that always said ‘here’s one we made earlier’ bought something that I’d made earlier.
What is the hardest part of being creative?
For me the hardest part is that if I want to be creative for a living, I have to sell my work. And that comes with all kinds of grim stuff that can kill your creativity. It would be heaven if I could just do the creative side. You have to constantly sell yourself and sell your work. I am rubbish at that. I have no self confidence and day in, day out coming up with prices and asking people to pay for things is just painful and cringe worthy. It completely goes against the grain and every time I have to do it, even after years of doing it, I have to take a deep breath and try to be brave.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Be patient. Unless you’re really lucky, it won’t happen over night.
The first time I tried it didn’t happen at all. But all kinds of disappointing and expensive stuff did.
This time, I tried to go about it in a more structured way and devote some time every week to being seen, not just creating. I paid for a website to be put together that I could constantly update myself. So I have a great CMS (content management site). I don’t have to pay someone to update it for me.
Look for small, positive steps. Hope that each thing you do leads to something else. However small.
For me, I entered some pictures into the local WI art exhibition in our village. Someone saw my art and asked me to join the local art group. The local art group had an exhibition and a gallery owner saw my work. The gallery owner tried selling some work and it started to take off from there. I sold nothing at the WI exhibition or the local art group exhibition. But I put my work out there and someone ended up giving me a chance.
What subjects inspire you?
Well it’s all about nature for me. I love animals and plants. I’m also inspired to produce work that support those animals that are persecuted. And helps those who are trying to make a difference. So I’ve donated the money from quite a few pictures to various animal related causes. I also have a collection of work that I encourage groups to produce as cards or prints and sell to raise funds for themselves round the UK.
Who are the 3 greatest living artists in your opinion? (they don’t have to be famous!)
All three of these people do incredibly different work but I’d love to have it in my home. Well, the willow sculptures in the garden but definitely at my home. They are all really original and so skillful. 1 – Chloe Giordano Embroidery 2 – Rosamund Fowler is an artist who paints and does woodcuts.3 – Joolz Doncaster from Wicked Willow Sculptures
Who are the 3 greatest dead artists in your opinion?
Margaret MacDonald – wife of Charles Rennie Macintosh – she was just amazing and I’m in total awe of her. Gustav Klimt – when I first saw one of his paintings on the wall in a pub in Liverpool I couldn’t stop staring at it all evening. I just found more and more. Piet Mondrian – I thought his stuff was rubbish until I saw it in real life. I love it now.
What is your favourite work of art you have ever produced?
What was the last piece of art you sold?
And finally… Because this is really important….
What’s the best type of cheese? (haha)
I only have Violife cheese and just their plain one is fine for me! I’d rather have chocolate…..