Artist Interview

Recently I was asked to compose some information about my art practice, experiences and any advice to share for young people interested in a career in the arts. It was nice reflecting over some moments over the past few years, so I thought I’d share it here!

Hello! My name is Sam Baxter, and I am a local freelance artist.
I am originally from Glamis, and have lived in several locations in the area, including Newtyle. I find the natural landscape that surrounds us to be a natural motivator for my creativity, and over the years, plants and the Scottish countryside has had a profound effect on my artwork, which has developed significantly, changing styles and medium over the years.

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At the moment my art practice focuses on drawing, and more predominantly in animal based drawings using coloured pencils. During higher education and in my first year at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, I learnt all the useful, basic skills, and believe that practice is what makes a strong artist. When I take on a new subject or art material (e.g. oil paint), I find that challenging yourself and exploring the medium/subject in ways you enjoy, can produce artwork which will surprise you. Practice and hard work will bring rewards, and it can be interesting to see your development over the years.

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During my studies in Fine Art, we were given complete freedom which was a real gift. I explored many art forms including sculpture, collage, expressive painting, life drawing, photography, drawing, video editing, and digital artwork. I found a love with natural materials and produced delicate and expressive sculptures with dried flowers, leaves, branches, and seeds. I believe without the support and opportunity to explore freely, my artwork would not have been as creative, and I would have held back. The tutors at the University were open to anything and were very inspiring. One art piece which they encouraged was my installation; ‘Stalks’. A large square of mud splattered on a white studio wall with dirt and field stalks scattered on the floor below. The piece was inspired by how chaotic nature can be, as well as drawing in childhood memories of the local landscape into an unnatural environment. Thanks to this encouragement, I was then able to go on and exhibit the same art piece at the Royal Scottish Academy Galleries in Edinburgh! Throwing wet mud at a white gallery wall sure is liberating and terrifying at the same time!

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One disadvantage to making it as an artist is that you have to take on many roles and be more than just an artist. To sell your work, it involves photography, online listings, taking your work to people in person, selling yourself, networking, and being friendly. It also involves working with numbers, IT/organising, and generally finding a professional attitude to your work, as well as taking yourself and your work seriously. Thanks to my experience in retail, I went from shy and quiet to friendly and approachable, and now find it very easy to talk to new people. One plus side to all of this, is that plenty of information and help is online and at our fingertips! I have also found that social media is hugely important for sharing my work, networking, and for inspiration.

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The best piece of advice I can share for anyone interested in the creative arts, whatever it may be, is to not stop. It can be very easy to judge yourself too harshly, to hold back and stop creating. Nothing is ever wrong, you must approach your work believing that there will be development before a finished piece. There may not even be a finished piece – but that is not the intent of creating. You have to enjoy it yourself.

Thanks for reading! 

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