Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I recently discovered Sam Nowell's work through her postings across many mediums on the DELI and her recent selection to be on the cover of Plebeian's May show. As a photographer, she's able to transport us back in time with Polaroids that feel like classic 70's shots but her editing and control with the camera still allows a modern feel. She's transferred her photos into print, which add a whole new element of intricacy. She allows the process of screen print to take the grit of age, and loose color even further in these prints. She's also got quite the illustrative touch, starting from scratch on some prints she shows a vast talent for drawing, patterning and controlling imagery. I got to chat with Nowell about her vast body of work and see what's coming next, I hope you enjoy!
1. So I always like to start by asking about an artists background. What got you into art? What are your big inspirations? What makes you the artist that you are?
I got into art the fall of my senior year of high school. I actually hadn’t taken an art class up until this point and enrolled in graphic design at my school. I didn’t have a clue what I would be studying in college and I was super passionate about a lot of different subjects. I realized I was good at art and figured that would be a good way to incorporate all of these ideas floating around in my head.
2. The first work I saw from you was your photo work, and that's some awesome stuff. Your photo work has this very chilling, stand still moment kind of vibe with a lot of emphasis on the lighting, or lack there of, around the subject. What goes into shooting for you? What are you trying to achieve when taking a photo?
Photography is something I’ve always loved but more recently it’s about documenting the people and places around me. I like to challenge myself to take something mundane, whether it be signage or a building that I pass everyday, and to make it something special and beautiful. My most recent series “Vacancy” takes Ocean City, a place I did a lot of growing up in, and gets the viewer to see it in the same light that I do. It’s not just a resort town to party or unwind once a year in but a place that has been extremely healing at times and has helped shape me as a person.
3. Next let's talk print, but we'll start with a series that I saw converted from your photo work. What went into converting photos into screen prints? Both though and physical processes. Is this something you'd consider doing more of?
I had a lot of film negatives floating around from recent travels and wanted to find a way to revive them without them just being presented as photographs. I definitely intend to do more of these prints with new negatives from the summer.
4. Further into print, is your more illustrative print styles, getting a little more loose with what you're doing. What is the goal of your printmaking? Is there any narrative cross over from your photo work? Or do the processes operate totally separately?
My primary goal is completely self-motivated. Color-process screen printing takes each image and separates it into 3-4 colors. So when I’m screen printing these images I am printing each color, waiting for it to dry, and then printing the next. Seeing old images come to life in this way is extremely rewarding and gives the image an even deeper sense of nostalgia than it had when it was just a film photograph. The processes definitely cross over. Most of my prints, even outside of my CMYK prints, are based on photographs that I took.
5. We've seen a pretty vast body of work from you, spanning across multiple mediums. So I'm interested to hear, how do you define your work? Do you have a particular style or medium that you think really defines you? What are your future plans with your body of work?
Photography is definitely the medium that defines me as an artist and as a human. All of my other artwork from my screenprints to my illustrations all revolve, to some extent, around photography. Currently my future plans for the summer are to keep creating and to start applying to MFA programs in the Philly area!
6. PLUGS! Let us hear what you've got going on and where to find you! Any new projects? Shows? Anything!
Will just be creating and exploring for the next few months. You can typically find updates on my instagram or on my website! @snowell_ and www.samanthanowell.com
Remember Folks! Feature Friday is an awesome way to get your work seen and promoted, as well as make you eligible for other prizes! But, you’ve got to post on that forum so we can see your work and promote it! So post, comment and post some more! Let’s see and talk about all of your work!