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What is your story?
I’m an artist designer who draws from British flora and fauna, combining a patchwork of influences into my designs, from intricate pattern, to British eccentricity. I love to hide symbols of Britain in my drawings from royal crowns to the union jack. Also a big inspiration of mine is British fairy tales and illustrators like Arthur Rackham and Beatrix Potter. Their work really inspires me to try to capture images that reflect magic and the wild beauty of nature.
My Journey as an artist began from a very young age. I do not have memories of a favourite toy, but I do have strong memories of just drawing, drawing, drawing. I was brought up in North London, but had a longing for the sandy beaches in Cornwall, where I now live. The landscape of Cornwall really inspires me. From the beautiful hidden coves to the rugged cliffs, and of course the wide variety of wildlife you get in the countryside, compared to the city.
After taking a foundation diploma in Art and Design at Cornwall College in 2007. I applied for an illustration degree, but was sadly turned down. I didn’t let the rejection hinder me, though, in fact it almost did me a favour in the end. It fuelled me to pursue my art and to be different. I went back to basics, pen and paper and my childhood days of drawing began again. By combining my passion for British nature my eye for detail and design, I found a unique artistic style all of my very own. I have been selling my original work in local galleries ever since, mainly in Uys Gallery in St Ives.
How did the collaboration with Poppy come about?
The Collaboration with Poppy was very exciting for me. I really admired her work as a designer and the beautiful products her and her team create. I met Poppy in her lovely shop in St Ives and was bold enough to introduce myself.
As an artist I knew I wanted to expand my ideas in design. I have always enjoyed working with textiles and was interested to combine my ideas onto handmade products. Lucky enough Poppy liked my work enough to give me shot with a design collaboration. I must admit I was very ropey on the hands free sewing machine! However, I have a great eye for colour and design. I enjoyed choosing all the fab fabrics from the studio. Then with Poppy’s patience and help, I ended up with three unique designs that I’m very proud of. Each one has its own charm and character and I find it hard to pick a favourite. At a push it’s ‘Love Nest.’ I really like the symmetry of the design and the dotty belly of the song thrushes next to the bold pink foxgloves. I feel that this cushion makes a real statement.
The cushions proudly sit on the top shelf amidst the other cushions in our shop!
How did you interpret the brief?
The brief for the design project was woodland animals. I did some rough sketches and overall Poppy liked the woodland bird ideas best. We took some ideas from other sketches I had done, to make three strong designs. The inspiration for ‘Love Nest’ came from an original drawing I had done also titled ‘Love Nest,’ it was great to take this design into a completely different form.
How/where do you find inspiration and are you influenced by trends?
I try not to follow trends in my work, but I must admit it’s hard not to be inspired creatively as an artist, with what’s going on around you. Unless, I suppose, you go through life with your eyes closed!
I can find inspiration in anything from vintage objects, old picture books, and the changing of the seasons. Most of all, it’s flora and fauna that inspires me. From every day birds you see in the garden, to the treasured scenes your eyes can capture from walking in the great outdoors, it’s just the skill of holding the image in your memory and then getting it on to paper. I also love beach combing and collecting natural objects from long walks in the woods. I just can’t help myself; I’m a little bit of a magpie!
Your creations are so detailed & intricate; how long does it take to perfect a finished design?
Each drawing is different really and depends on how long I have each day to dedicate to drawing. My bigger drawings can take me up to a month to complete and smaller ones can take me a few days. It generally depends on time and my mood creatively. And, I now have to make sure that I give my poor neck a good rest!
Can you talk us through the process from the initial idea to a finished product.
I always start my designs from a quick doodle, normally on a scrap piece of paper, anything I can get my hands on when an idea comes to mind. I have even been known to sketch on kitchen roll and old receipts! Once I have the composition right, I carefully sketch it out onto fine drawing paper then, with a black ink pen I slowly begin to fill the design in. Each pattern is unique, but over time I have created my own patterns for different animal textures. I’m always trying to capture the right texture of each animal I’m drawing but in a quirky, illustrative way.
We love your new range for Ulster Weavers; what’s in the pipeline for the future?
Ulster Weavers has been amazing for me. I’ve always dreamed of having my own textile range and because I mostly draw in black and white, it’s super to see my designs in bold colour. It has opened my mind to new possibilities. For 2014, Ulster Weavers will be taking my designs into china mugs and also table placemats.
At the moment I’ve been working hard on some new drawings for an exhibition from the 5th of December to 10th January at The New Craftsman Gallery in St Ives Cornwall. My work will be combined with other artists work. The exhibition is titled, ‘Under the Wild Stars’ and I’m very excited to show some of my new Nature Nut drawings! Also this year I have been working on some new card designs with the Almanac Gallery London.
Lastly, what is your ultimate dream?
My ultimate dream is to carry on being a nature nut and expand in all forms of design. I would love to take my designs into more household items and also fabric and wallpaper would be wonderful. Ideally, creating my own little brand!
I’ve always dreamed of tying my work into a book of some sort. Children’s picture book illustration is one of my biggest goals. But I will have to wait and see when I have the time to dedicate to just one project. I’m afraid I find it a bit too scary to look too far ahead, but my main aim in 5 years is to still enjoy, and have the same passion, for creating quirky designs that reflect my love of British nature.
You can purchase any of Sam’s lovely range of bags & tea towels for Ulster Weavers and his cushions from Poppy Treffry. If you’re in Cornwall in December and January, then it’d just be rude to not go and see his exhibition at the Craftsmen Gallery in St. Ives. If you’d like to get in touch with Sam then you can visit his website.