Professional web developer. Video creator. Painter. Samuel Chasan has been a creative most of his life and believes in the unifying qualities of art. Samuel’s artistic range is impressive and diverse. His works prove that he is able to work masterfully with different mediums, subject matters, styles and techniques to convey his thoughts and ideas.
Sam tells us more about his creative process and his goals through our social forum.
Where are you from and when did you start your art practice?
I am from Seattle, Washington. And I’ve been painting and drawing ever since I was old enough to hold a pen. My current practice though, I jump started in the middle of COVID lockdowns, this past April. I had housemates that left pretty quickly once lockdown was declared, which suddenly gave me all the space I needed to work. I had also just made some good money from web development contracts and an amazingly supportive girlfriend who encouraged me to go for it.
How do you describe your vision for your work?
I love depicting the natural world, free of human impact, to showcase its awesome splendor. And I also love doodling wild abstract visions that delight people from all backgrounds. Often I’m not sure how to explain what it is that I do. Because I have fun doing so many different styles, and subjects. Ultimately, I’m trying to get my art to a place where it’s telling a powerful story with each piece, utilizing all that I know and am capable of. I imagine this will look in parts hyper-realistic and wildly abstract, with figures and nature and landscapes and textures all rolled into singular pieces.
What are your artistic/creative inspirations?
My inspirations are wildly diverse. Nearly everything I see, do, hear, and feel conjures new and interesting visions. I’ve always been very interested in politics, as it affects everyone everyday in ways we can only distantly control. So obviously all that’s happened with our fascist administration has been on my mind. But so, too, have my outdoor experiences, and my personal experiences. Living in NYC for 3 years has been tremendously insightful and given me so many ideas for future works. As did my trip around the U.S. to get to NYC in the first place. I was painting a mix of my own photos captured from backpacking trips, and sourced photos from books while I was in Seattle. And recently I’ve painted images solely from my own ventures. As I said above though, my next big projects will be some combination of these things I’m thinking about, seeing, hearing, feeling, witnessing, etc.
Are there other emerging artists you can recommend?
I think a big reason why I’m so inspired to do new work is that I’ve become inspired by many artists as I’ve ignited my art career in a truly substantive way. All painters – Christian Rex van Minnen, weird and fleshy, plus gummy, ‘portraits’; Agnes Grochulska, highly stylized portraits; Aaron Hazel, socially conscious portraits; Dean Christensen, fantastic and fun and weird pop art pieces; Julia S Powell, brilliant abstract expressionist landscapes; Khari Turner, stunning portraits that combine abstract swirls with elements of hyper realism to great effect; David Ambarzumjan, who has a stunning ‘brushstrokes in time’ series related to climate change; and Joel Rea, who also depicts climate change issues through stunning realistic depictions of altered realities.
What do you like about the artistic community of today? What do you dislike?
The amazing breadth of the artistic community is insane. So many creators, of so many different things, it really feels like a renaissance and we’re all lucky to be a part of it. On the other hand, it can be difficult to connect and collaborate with people at times, because we’re all so scattered trying to do a million things keeping our heads above water. And as a consequence we’re all somewhat in competition for attention. But I try to forget about this last part. Because art is better when it’s diverse, because then there’s something for everyone.
Tell me about your process.
It can vary from piece to piece. But eventually it all begins with a vision. Sometimes I have a really specific image and/or message I’m trying to convey. This leads to a sketch or two, which leads me to doing essentially what is in the sketch. In these cases it’s almost like I’m working as fast as I can to ‘build’ the drawing and draw it out of me. Like I can see it and I wish I could just draw faster, haha. Other times, I have no idea, or I have extra paint at the end of a session, and I’ll slap it on a blank piece so that when I work on it later, it’s already ‘primed’. Depending on what I’m working on and how many I am working on, I may throw several layers of extra paint on a piece before I start developing it. At some point the splatters inspire a vision, which then begins the art process.
As for painting, I start with two colors – dark and light. I then outline the biggest, most basic shadows and fill them in. Then I add the basic highlights. From here, I do a general, and still very abstract, and still very light filling in of the whole piece. I’m going to go over almost everything again, so why worry? I finish this step, and let my piece dry. A few minutes for acrylics, overnight for oils. Then I go back and forth with hot and cold colors, letting dry between each application so I don’t cause too much bad mixing on the canvas. Finally, once I have the piece mostly where I would like it, I do tiny details all over, now back to a full color palette as in the beginning, to really make the piece shine and pop.
Do you think your work has a message? How is it received?
My strongest message right now is through my landscapes, it is: This earth we have is a very special place, and we therefore need to do whatever we can to preserve it. When people look at my landscapes, they are immediately captivated and feel like they can ‘step into’ the pieces. This is an oft-repeated phrase regarding these works of mine.
What is safe and/or dangerous in terms of experimentation?
There are only two things dangerous in terms of experimentation: safety and cost. Otherwise there’s nothing safer for your sanity and your life than to experiment. Experimentation guarantees new experiences, which leads to new learning, which creates new opportunities, and new outcomes. Just make sure you know what you are doing, are properly equipped and prepared, and aren’t spending too much money on a total unknown, and you will have endless joy with experimentation.
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your artistic career that you would pass on to an artist who is just starting out?
Separate your art identity from your personal identity – make it a brand. That makes it easier for people to follow you, be your fan, connect with you, identify your work, and share your work with others. Also, remove the pressure of positive financials from your art. That is to say – get a job. There’s no dishonor in having a steady paycheck so you can continue to develop as an artist at your own pace, without the trifold stressors of production, marketing and sales.
Where would you like to see your work in 3 years? What goals do you have for your practice?
I would like to be represented by a gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan, see my work in the home of at least one A-list celebrity, and Michelin star restaurant, be invited to at least one major international art festival, and win at least one public art proposal. Before this though, I would just like to become self-sustaining in my art practice such that I would no longer require a day job.
FRONTRUNNER social forum: @samuel.chasan