This week we turn our attention to Sam, aka the Overconfident Underachiever, Collage Artist Extraordinaire.
I found out about Sam through a friend that showed me his Instagram page. When I saw his collage work I was immediately entranced by the colorful chaos of it all. The imagery ranges all the way from cats and dogs, to crystals and galaxies, to just about anything and everything you can imagine. I was fascinated how these collages were being made so I messaged him to meet up one morning and boy am I glad I did.
Sam is a very kind person. He welcomed me into his aesthetically pleasing and well thought out space with coffee, snacks, cats, and an offer to pay for my outrageous Chicago parking. One of the first things he told me about him is that he believes first impressions are everything. He definitely impressed me alright.
During my few hours with Sam, I learned so much about how these mesmerizingly complex collages came to be, but also about how meaningful his work is to him and the role it plays in his life. It all stemmed from a Popular Mechanics magazine that he decided to cut up, and from that time on, he's been meticulously sourcing, cutting out, and arranging flowers, monolithic structures, and molecules ever since. His insatiable hunt for vivid imagery is a process that I find to be fascinating.
Sam goes to resale shops like the Brown Elephant, Goodwill, Salvation Army etc. and finds books and magazines. Not just any publication will do though, only ones with PICTURES in them. Lots and lots of pictures. He then takes the books back to his workspace and cuts out hundreds of images that he then organizes by subject and stores for his collaging sessions as seen in the video above. As he went through his process I saw his dining room transform from a neat, well-styled space into a wonderful explosion of colorful chaos.
I asked him how he plans out his various compositions, and his answer: He just goes for it. He starts with a small piece that tends to be representative of a window, portal, or passage into another dimension, and then builds the collage around that. It evolves with the careful placement of just the right image or color around the starting point until it is a completed composition. What really strikes me about his work is his ability to blend even the most opposite of subjects together as if their entire purpose in print was to come together for one of his collages. I mean seriously, would you like some birds with those Egyptian temples? (hey come on now, put a bird on it!)
At this point, what else struck me as beautiful besides the explosion of color now covering the entire room, were 2 things:
- Sam is a true artist, he creates because he wants others to experience and enjoy it. He told me about how he generously gives away free extras with all orders online as well as a handwritten note of heartfelt gratitude. He selflessly insisted that I take anything and everything that caught my eye or that I liked. I honestly felt bad taking anything at all, but I walked away with 2 prints that my roommate promptly hung in her room, two magnets that I promptly plastered on my refrigerator, and a notebook that is now the home to my creative journaling.
- His process is helpful in multiple ways both to himself and to the planet. His process serves as a release for the built up stress of working two jobs, and allows him to transfer any negativity in his life into something positive. He takes clippings from publications that were more likely than not destined to end up in the trash and repurposes them into something entirely unique.
Cleaning up is the hardest / most annoying part of the process as one might imagine. You can tell that he's done it plenty of times though by the way that he gently, efficiently, and quickly gathers up all the various categories of imagery into perfect piles that are then stored away until his next creative release. His perfectionism and type-A nature shine at this moment though he secretly doesn't like it, as I watched as all of the perfectly cut creatures and objects made their way back into the appropriate folders,
I am very grateful to have met him and can't wait to see where his art takes him in the future. His giving, creative, open spirit is certainly on a successful path that I see only evolving