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November 20, 2023

Showcase: Sam Sherriff on Connecting People Through Art

Showcase is our brand new feature all about individuals doing inspiring creative work across the country. This week we spoke to illustrator and Fun A Day coordinator Sam Sherriff.

Sam’s work focuses on plants and animals using pattern, colour and line to create paintings and illustrations, often abstract and bold. In past work she has used plant material to produce delicate sculptures, as well as expressing emotion presented through photography or the results of a live action piece. Fun A Day Dundee is an art community run by Sam over the past 6 years. The project welcomes all abilities and skills to embrace creativity in accessible and fun ways. 

Could you tell me about an experience that really solidified it for you that you wanted to become an artist?

I always felt encouraged to embrace my passion for art when I had the support of artists and teachers growing up. I remember many instances when they would show an interest, engage and teach me additional skills so I felt motivated to follow a life of creativity. In school, teachers had a great influence on me, but I also remember my dad taking me into DJCAD when I was between 7 and 10 years old. He has always supported my love for art. It was amazing seeing that there was an education where you could actually sculpt, draw and paint. I was so inspired and excited to see there was a future for what I wanted to do.

You’ve been a coordinator for Fun A Day for a few years now. What are some of the positive impacts you’ve observed in people when they commit to being creative everyday for a month?

I’ve found passion in sharing creativity with many people of all ages and backgrounds, including pupils in schools. Despite all the differences people can have, I’ve found that one thing is the same. When people can connect with another person over their creative passion, they are fuelled, inspired, and supported. Connecting with participants of FADD in person, having long, silly, and serious discussions with initially complete strangers has been one of my favourite things about running FADD. Participants go on to develop their skills, turn their creative projects into small businesses, finish craft projects, and also inspire others. 

Your work seems to often portray nature in a number of different ways. Why do you lean towards those motifs?

I find that for many people, like myself, nature is a grounding and calming presence in many lives. A walk in the countryside can wash away negative thoughts and provide a lot of inspiration for me creatively. I used to walk through forests during my time at DJCAD with a camera, and see what would catch my eye that day. Shapes, shadows, patterns and details in moss, bark, leaves, droplets of rain, insects… There’s so much beauty in fauna and flora, I think it’s an enjoyable and limitless source of imagery and colour for my work.

What advice would you give to readers who want to foster a regular creative practice if they’re new to it?

Embrace the sketchbook. The best rule for sketchbooking is to not rip out pages! Own any mistakes and the process towards a piece of work that satisfies you. I often find myself embracing the process of an art project rather than the final outcome. I think that’s the sign of truly enjoying yourself and getting lost in your craft. It’s also great finding other people of similar interests in art sessions and events, rather than relying on taking inspiration purely from social media which can be exhausting.

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Make art for yourself”. I think especially when you’re trying to make a living, it’s too easy to get lost in producing work that brings in money, but may not necessarily be from the heart. Times where I’ve dragged myself back into truly making a new piece of work for myself, I’ve actually gotten the best compliments and interest from others, as opposed to drawings I’ve made in order to bring in an income. You shine through your own work when you enjoy making it.

Our next interviewee will be someone in the creative industries, they could be an illustrator, performer, sculptor, etc… do you have a question you’d like us to pass on to them?

What art piece/ project has been your most enjoyable to produce, and why?

Thanks Sam!

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