Today I present to you Sam Lane, an amazing New Zealand artist I discovered the other day. I am just totally crazy about her detailed pen-and-ink drawings of native wildlife. Seriously, who draws flawless-enough-to-be-in-a-field-guide wildlife and makes it contemporary art? Sam does!
Here are some of my favorites from her blog.
'Shorebirds' I am crazy about the heart-shaped form these bird make... and how their wings and beaks break up the shape in strategic places.
(Left) 'Tui, Bellbird, Stitchbird'
J: When did you first get into art? Do you do art full-time?
Sam: I first got into art when I was about 7 years old. I had an obsession with horses, thanks to some cartoons of the time, and I drew them often. During secondary school I pretty much settled on art as my favourite subject, and almost considered going to art school. But the cost was high and at the time it seemed a bit of a gamble. Many years later, I am a high school teacher and, ironically, an art degree would be quite useful right now! I now do art part-time, on weekends and holidays. My full-time job is as an English teacher at secondary school (NZ).
J: I love the way you form shapes with the clusters of your birds and animals. How did you come up with that idea?
Sam: I was watching, of all things, a New Zealand television advertisement for a car rally. The ad used animated car/engine parts to form a beating heart and I thought, hmmm, that's interesting, what else could you make a heart out of? I can't say why I chose insects, maybe it had something to do with the frogs we were keeping at the time, who liked to eat live insects. Whatever it was, from there grew a number of drawings using the heart template - or other shapes. I immediately found the templates were convenient for framing the images I was drawing, because I didn't have to worry about what to put in the background. That was in 2009, after a long break from doing any kind of drawing. And it really helped me to get back to my craft.
'Birds IV' (Harrier Hawks)
J: I see you are represented by many galleries in NZ. What's it like being represented by a gallery? Good/bad things?
Sam: The good things are that you reach audiences you wouldn't otherwise reach, both local and tourist markets. Thanks to the galleries I am with, my artwork is now on the other side of the world. Another good thing is the relationships you build. I have made fantastic friendships with some of the owners and in some cases have found mentoring and support, which has been extremely useful for helping me to develop my style and think harder about things like presentation (framing etc). The bad things are that communication isn't always two way. As an artist, it can be hard sometimes to communicate with galleries - as I am sure happens in any line of busines - and now and then you can be left feeling in the dark.
'New Zealand Birds V'
J: What is the art scene like in NZ? Do you plan to stay working from there?
Sam: This is a difficult question for me to answer. My experience of the art scene in New Zealand is largely a positive one. There are many, many ways into the art scene - and just as many ways to enjoy it. I do think NZ positively promotes a lot of art and artists, from a lot of different backgrounds. The closer you are to the metropolitan areas, the more likely there are to be regular events on offer, from sculpture to performance, comics to fine arts. Working in the art scene isn't always lucrative. Unless you've hit the big time and built quite a name for yourself, it is difficult to do art full-time (though some manage it). There are no established rates of pay for art and craftwork either - which can make pricing your artwork interesting! New Zealand is home for me, and I do plan to stay working from here. Though, who knows what my situation or opportunities will be in the future?
Thanks for the interview, Sam! Good luck to you and your fantastic art career. And wow, look how stunning her prints look framed. Buy one for yourself in her shop!