Introducing Bright Artist Sam Prentice
last updated 20 November 2020
Talk us through your creative process when illustrating. How do you go from concept to finished piece?
When I start on a new project, I’ll usually be taking inspiration from something I’ve seen on Instagram or something I’ve watched. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in pop culture to keep my ideas fresh. I’ll then use Photoshop and my Wacom drawing tablet to sketch out my idea, this stage is usually an absolute car crash of me messing around with shapes and proportions until I get something that I find dynamic and compelling. Picking out colour schemes is one of my favourite things to do, at this point I’ve kind of honed my pallet to about 9/10 colours that I use in combination.
Your work often champions LGBTQ+ themes. How important is it to you for art to advocate or inform as well as entertain?
As a kid, there was obviously no representation of queer relationships anywhere, the artwork I would see online mainly championed heterosexual relationships. During my first year of university, I realised that I could draw queer art and feel more connected with my work. Since then, I’ve always tried to create work that normalises queer life without simplifying it. Educating my audience on the realities of queer life, both highs and lows, whilst doing it in an engaging way, is kind of my mission statement and my goal with all of my work.
Tell us about POOF Magazine.
POOF magazine was conceived as my final major project from university. I wanted to create a curated, themed and illustration-specific, queer art magazine where I could handpick artists whom I admired and give them a platform. The main bulk of the magazine is work from other artists; I always create my own response to the issue’s theme as well as doing all the interior design work and front cover. There are so many incredible artists working on Instagram today and some of them truly don’t get the adoration they deserve, I always try to have a combination of “big names” and “small names” to try and help promote these fantastic creators. The magazine is biannual and I think it gets better and better with every issue, if I do say so myself!
Who or what have been your most important influences as an illustrator?
Wes Anderson and his films have inspired me a lot over the years, his use of colour pallets and stylization have had a big impact on the way I compose images. Other than that, most of my inspiration comes from other queer creators on Instagram, people celebrating their bodies and sharing their art.
What led to you pursuing working as an illustrator?
I’ve spent my whole life drawing and creating characters; I would fill up sketchbook upon sketchbook at school. For most of my teens, I planned to go into fashion because I was pretty good at making clothes. It wasn’t until my foundation year before university that I realised that nothing gave me as much joy as drawing, so it seemed like a no-brainer really.
What’s your favourite part of creating an illustration?
I love when an illustration starts to come alive right at the end, when I add the details and line work, which I guess is unusual as most illustrations start with the line work!
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
If I could talk to my teenage self, I would say that, even though you think you’re pretty great and are feeling kind of indestructible, you have a lot of growing to do, and even though the hundreds of notebooks full of anime drawings that you do all day will be cringe in a few years, you will thank them for giving you a crash course in drawing the human body.
How do you get through a creative block?
When you figure it out, can you let me know haha?! The only things that really help me are watching films that I love and going for walks. Sometimes you have to just plough through it and draw some bad drawings to get them out of your system.
How important is it to have a creative community around you?
I’ve always found it vital to be surrounded by creatives, not only do they understand the nature of your job in a way that family and non-creatives often don’t, but they will be super understanding of all the highs and lows that come with making a living off of your art. All of my best friends are illustrators, graphic designers or musicians and even my partner is an illustrator.
What would be your dream client or project to work with?
I would love to illustrate one of Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara’s Little People, BIG DREAMS books. I’d love to do either Oscar Wilde or Keith Haring.
Digital or hand-drawn?
I adore hand-drawn work and I used to hand-draw everything even when I started working digitally. These days, I’m all about working quickly and efficiently, I eventually cut out the middleman and started sketching digitally as well.
Colour or Monochrome?
Is it cheating if I say monochromatic colour? I love to create pieces using lots of different shades of the same colour.
Sam is represented by Helen Biles — to work with Sam please get in touch. You can see more of Sam’s work in his portfolio here.