Sam Mathers is a New Zealand artist who has made a name for himself in all the right ways. Portfolio first came to know Sam as a freelance designer some years back. He has since moved away from commercial design and to become a full time painter. We’ve kept in touch over the years and followed his work, and bought some! We touched base recently to see what has been going on in his world.
Recently Sam completed two paintings for the IMAGO MUNDI Benetton World art – “Kiwi Consciousness” NZ Project. This is a project that gathers the work of 210 artists from Aotearoa who will be part of a unique collection of art in Italy.
He has also been busy exhibiting around New Zealand including works at the Baradene art show, he is currently doing two pieces for Dio Secret Art and he is showing a few paintings at the Vauxhall School Exhibition of Fine Art in June.
Sam has in also been involved in raising money for worthy causes, donating art and doing special commissions. Starship’s Diamonds and Stars auction is coming up to which he is donating a painting. Also for Starship, you may have seen his art in the form of giant eggs for the Whittaker’s Big Egg Hunt that has run twice in New Zealand so far in recent years.
“I get a lot of charity organisations contacting me asking for art now. So I have narrowed them down to supporting only a few which I truly believe in. The ones which I am genuinely interested in helping. I would like to be able to help them all out, but in reality that wouldn’t be feasible for my small business. It is a good thing to give back if you are in a position where you can. Giving back always feels better than just selling, selling. Commission work has come out of donating works to charities. So it’s a win win for both parties.”
Along with working on two large private commissions at the moment he has two other exhibitions to plan for in coming months. He is a busy man. So where does he get inspiration to continue to be creative? “It comes from being happy. Happy with the life I am living. Simple really. Or seeing other artists doing well or watching inspiring documentaries on my favourite artists or musicians and inspiring people in general. All that inspires me to succeed and keep on pushing on.” Another form of inspiration also comes from his seven-month old son Ryder. As a first time Dad he is looking forward to the future and is proud to say he’s been able to purchase his first home through the sales of his art.
Born and raised in Raglan, Sam graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in Graphic Design in 2004. He was painting then but not as a job and was offered a scholarship to a Media Arts degree. However, he chose to do graphics to learn something new.
After workings as a graphic designer in NZ for seven years, he moved to the UK…in the middle of the worst recession to date! He had to push out of his comfort zone to find different work to pay his way. It was then Sam realised it was painting he wanted to be doing. So, back in New Zealand he put aside six months and worked on 23 paintings that he showed in a local restaurant in Raglan. “I sold about 10 paintings and made some money. So I kind of started believing that being "An Artist" could actually become a job. After that was over, I slowly progressed over the next year until I was making enough money from my paintings to live in a flat in Ponsonby which wasn’t cheap. So I stopped looking for any more graphic work and backed myself and just painted. There were times when I would get close to zero dollars in my bank account just before rent would go out and a painting would sell. So it wasn’t easy but let’s say I am doing fine now.”
Based in Raglan again, Sam is now building a large workshop next to his studio there where he will make all his art boards and frames. A permanent gallery space is also on the cards where his work will be on display to the public. This will also be a potential exhibition space for fellow artists and group shows.
A prolific surfer, when the waves are good, you won’t find him anywhere else. “For me it’s easy to paint when the suns not shining and surfs not good. I like working when the sea is stormy and the sky is angry.” Which is ideal in many ways but the surf is good 80% of the year at Raglan so Sam is often painting late into the night.
Amidst all else that he has on, he is currently working on a retrospective solo exhibition for the end of the year. The show will be based on pieces he did 15 years ago when he first started painting.
To find out more about the IMAGO MUNDI Benetton World Art exhibition visit their site www.imagomundiart.com/exhibitions
More info on Dio Secret Art can be found here.