A few months back in June, A&H’s Fashion Editor Christopher Dam had a chance to sit with Sammo the artist and elaborate on her love for color, men in well-tailored suits, and how they inspire her pieces. I was fortunate enough to converse with her at Panther Coffee in Wynwood Art District, Miami for her latest exhibit which is on display at William Bramer’s Art Fusion Gallery in the Miami design district.
What state were you in when you were creating pieces for your recent exhibit and what do you want spectators to get from your pieces?
I was really pumped to have a private studio space set up by my family in Sarasota over the summer and I brought the pieces to Miami. It’s just big white walls. I listen to music from Dave Matthews to Clams Casino to M83. It gets me hyped up and the energy makes me see a burst of colors and I want to put them all together.
I don’t want to impose any sort of perspectives on my work. And what people take from it is completely their own business. I feel like in the art world everyone has an opinion and they love to give it to me [laughs] and that’s cool. I love to hear them, but I’m not going to wear it on my sleeve where it’s going to be my end-all-be-all if someone doesn’t like it. I’m really receptive to anyone’s perspective on my work and I’m always curious how it makes them feel. So far I’m really lucky the feedback’s been really positive.
What inspires you to keep going with your passion in the art world?
I get really inspired from other artists. Not so much pulling from artists, but seeing people do what they love and expressing themselves. A big highlight of my Miami trip was watching Retna do the Luis Vuitton building on 40th St. He was right down the street and I meet Retna and Typo. The fact that I got to watch them at work was awesome and epic. I love the city, I love the energy, and everything’s inspiring [points at mural]: all these murals, look how rad that is. It makes you want to run home and start painting; it gets my mind going. It’s not that you’re on the same page as everyone, but you feel like you belong to a community and everyone shares their own work and your understanding. You have a different process but you have an understanding of each other and respect each other from the artist stand point here at least. Every vibe is so unique and I’m still exploring the place.
What does a life fulfilled mean to you, Sammo?
I’m so grateful for how well things are going, but if I didn’t have anyone to share it with it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting. My family, my friends, being surrounded by people I have mutual love and respect for. And I set these goals for myself and there’s no greater feeling than being able to accomplish them and sort of set the bar higher next time. And I feel such love and support from my family and friends, so I feel fulfilled already. There’s other things I want to accomplish, not material by any means; none of that means anything at the end of the day. Personal, creative goals are up there. I have some pretty big ones and I’m ready to reach them. I feel fulfilled on a personal level with who I am as a person and people I surround myself with, so it’s just a matter of checking off that bucket list.
Any advice you would give to an aspiring artist that is hesitant to chase a dream? The way the art world works is more of a “who you know more than what you can do” sometimes. What would you say to any one that is hesitant to pursue it?
Don’t take anything anyone says too seriously. Don’t second-guess your gut feelings. At the end of the day, in more cases than some, it takes more money to make money. I didn’t have any in the beginning and I’ll never feel satisfied to this day, but if you want to make a career out of it, look for ways to branch out. There’s this stigma attached to artist who are alive that do well and it’s hard because the graffiti scene brands themselves and gives themselves nicknames. In our generation things fly with Twitter and Facebook. Thank God we have those tools. If we didn’t have a lot of those tools, things would be a lot more difficult. I attribute a large part of my media success to social media. You cant be afraid and just put it out there. Keep putting it out there. Share it with everyone all the time. It’s wonderful to help people and it’s amazing to see what goes around comes around in that world. That’s such a phenomenal way to share your work. I’m big on charitable initiatives and it’s a great way to put your work out in a public domain. I had too many social media things going on and I was focusing less on the work. If you’re working really hard and pushing yourself through every day, you cant hire a PR agent out of the gate. You have to do it yourself; you have to hustle. For every 100 e-mails I send, I get one reply. At the end of the day, that’s the key. Just keep throwing shit to the wall and see what sticks, you know what I mean, without being too crude. I’m still in that process. I’m still sharing the work. Even sitting here now, there’s people that just sort of let the ball drop…you just can’t let the ball drop. There’s nothing more to it but hustle.