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Mixed-Media artist Sam Birch gets the interview treatment
Sam Birch is an inspirational and innovative British artist currently taking the London Art scene by storm. His recent solo exhibition, ‘The Heart of The City’ explores the all-consuming monster that is the City of London. It is a comprehensive series of work, which echoes the Artists passion and dedication to his subject. In this interview, Sam gives us an honest and sincere insight into his journey so far, offering an interesting perspective on what it is to be an artist.
Interview By Jenna Roberts
Q1.In your own words, please tell us what it is you do.
I am an artist that regularly exhibits in galleries. I also create and produce set design and scenic art for corporate events, private functions.
Q2. What does being ‘an artist’ mean to you?
I often say I live up to the stereo typical “romantic” notion of the struggling artist but it’s true. There’s no silver lining for art graduates and there is no easy route. To be a successful artist involves lots of hard work and perseverance. It’s necessary to make many sacrifices. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Q3. Have you always aspired to be a professional artist? Did you ever dream of following a different path?
To be an artist has always been my ambition, I’ve never dreamed of being anything else.
Q4. ‘Heart of The City’ is an exhibition of your most recent works, shown at Whiteleys in West London. Please tell us a bit about the inspiration and the work involved?
The inspiration for my recent work is London. I came to London with the intention of producing new work for an exhibition but had no idea what my subject would be. When I first arrived I felt consumed by the City and this in itself inspired me. I began using cycle routes to navigate my way around and it was then that it hit me. Maps in general have always inspired me. I like the idea of placing the City under a microscope, to gain a bird’s eye view of the entire metropolis.
Q5. What’s next for Sam Birch? Any interesting projects in the pipeline?
I have another show scheduled for later in the year at the Hoxton gallery. I am also very excited to be joining forces with designer label Henrietta Ludgate for an art meets fashion collaboration at the Saatchi gallery.
Q6. What triggers your creativity?
I guess it’s triggered by the world around me. I am inspired by what I see and feel compelled to express myself in a visual way. I’ve always felt it’s important to have a creative outlet of some kind in order to maintain a healthy state of mind.
Q7. Coming from a Fine Art background, how important are traditional techniques to you?
I studied fine art painting where I developed traditional drawing and painting techniques that remain the basis of all my work today.
Q8. ‘Heart of The City’ is your first ever solo show. Can you give us some insight into how the exhibition came to fruition? What were the processes involved?
I locked myself away in the studio for 3 years living on beans on toast. I spent the little money I had on materials… I found a place to hold my first exhibition and just threw myself in at the deep end.
Q9. Have you had to do a lot of ‘schmoozing’ to get where you are today? Is this a necessity for gaining exposure in the London art scene?
Networking is very important. I do believe that there is some truth in the idea that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, however there is no easy way to becoming a success. It’s important to balance late nights out with long hours in the studio, we only reap what we sew.
Q10. What has been the public’s reaction to your art?
I’m pleased to say it’s been very well received
Q11. What would you say is the public’s most popular piece of yours and why (not limited to Heart of The City)?
I find that my most popular work is the most accessible. It’s hard to say which piece is the most popular as opinions tend to vary.
Q12. What is your own favourite piece and why?
The Heart of the City. This piece captures the essence of my latest exhibition. It combines traditional painting and drawing techniques with computer generated imagery.
Q13. What artwork do you have on your wall?
I tend to change things around quite often. I like to have my work in progress on rotation. I find it useful to live with the work a little while producing it.
Q14. Which artists inspire you and why?
Henrietta Ludgate. She turns people into living breathing works of art.
Q15. What are the hardships of being a full time artist?
You don’t have a regular income, it’s a feast and famine situation.
Q16. What are the most enjoyable aspects?
I receive a lot of compliments about my work but when someone parts with their hard earned cash it is sincere. They like it so much they want to give my work a home. This is an incredible feeling.
Q17. From your experience in the art scene, what advice could you offer people looking to succeed?
Work hard, be focused, determination and self motivation are key. It’s really important to enjoy what you do.
Q18. Are there any courses/classes you would recommend someone take if they want to be a professional in a similar field to yours?
I believe it is not necessary to gain a qualification in art to be an artist in fact not many people who study art go on to become an artist. It is probably one of the most difficult career choices one could make. It really takes hard work and motivation and dedication to your subject. You really have to love it. I spent 8 years in full time education after leaving school. A levels, B-tech 1st and national diploma’s and BA Hons degree in fine art. I found it useful to study general art and design to begin with as this gave me an idea of which pathways I could take. Sculpture, Photography, painting etc. I found it useful to have basic inductions to all mediums together with access to expensive tools and equipment.
Every Wednesday evening, I hold art sessions, its’ a small class, informal and welcomes all standards no booking just turn up – I think it’s really positive to mix with fellow artists – inspire and be inspired.
Q19. Share with us your proudest moment in your career so far.