The importance of #community.

It can be pretty tough at times being a one man band. The past couple months have been pretty hard, low on motivation , inspiration, creativity and feelings of ‘What am I doing with myself?’ But after Semi-Permanent this past week, I’ve come to realise how important it is to be surrounded by like-minded people. These past few days have been truly spectacular and a dream come true. Massive thanks to all the people who organised Semi-Permanent. I left feeling refreshed, re-energised, motivated, and inspired. As well as meeting so many great new people. I also had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with the amazing Bec Winnel & Benja Harney. And to top it all off the super lovely Kelli Anderson and boyfriend Dan (Who is also a designer and music junkie) were both so kind to have dinner with me last night. It makes me think how lucky we are to be in an industry where the people that inspire us so much and we look up to are so down to earth, still have time for everyone and are happy to share such wisdom & experience. It gives us all something to aspire to be.

But it’s not just about connecting with the people at the top of the international industry as well either. Just meeting fellow local creative types has really opened my eyes to the amount of local talent and that there are others just like myself who are passionate about being creative and doing what we love most (I’m not alone!). I know now the importance of this sense of community and that we should all try to foster these relationships with our peers. Why? Because freelancers like myself, probably more often than not get stuck in a routine of undertaking everything on their own. One job after another like a production line. If we connect with others, we can bounce ideas off each other, get feedback and improve on our work through some critiquing from an objective eye. By the way; Networking SUCKS. Don’t approach people with a “What can this person do for me?” or “Where can this person take me?” attitude, but seek a genuine connection and hopefully you will both benefit from it! Which brings me to the next point of the importance of community: Collaboration. On your own you may be working away and miss out on ideas that could work. When working with others, the unexpected can happen, and you may come up with something truly amazing. Two (or more) heads are better than one. (See mythical beast ‘Hydra’).

A couple of friends and I have started a weekly drawing night, where we get together at a cafe, draw and talk smack. It’s seriously the best thing ever and something I look forward to every week because I get to chill with people who love the same thing I do, and are super passionate about it too. That’s the thing, passion & motivation are very contagious things, and being around people who are passionate about the same thing as you will surely rub off on you if you’re feeling a little unmotivated.

Anyway, I hope you got something out of that post. If you’re local (or not local) I’d like to hear from you! Let’s make the industry a little more close-knit. I want to know YOU. So feel free to drop me a line: or @saminthewolf on twitter / instagram.

I’ll leave you with this quick (terrible) scribble I did on the blackboard of a quote by Florian Schmitt from Semi-Permanent.

P.S Sorry if you were misled by the title, this post has nothing to do with the hit TV series, apart from the fact I’m going to say that I really like it.


I just finished this small 10″ x 10″ canvas of Olive for Bec Winnel. Met Bec in person for the first time today at the Semi Permanent conference. She is really rad and super nice too! So if you’re heading to the show this weekend, make sure you come see her talk about her work and such. It’s amazing!

Rifles – 26th May

Gig posters are fun to do. Usually because you can draw the weirdest shit and noone really blinks an eyelid. Anyway, My good friend Thom Brown is in this band called “Rifles”. They are really great. So if you’re down in Wellington on the 26th of May, you should check them out.



Stuff from the sketchbook.

Totally slipped off the ball again, sorry. Here’s a couple of things from my moleskine.





New painting series underway: WIP

Work in progress.

Started on a new painting last week. This is the first one in the series; I guess I’ll keep going for a while til I find some ideas that are working and the idea can’t be explored anymore.

Here’s a shot of some progress thus far.



Just finished this painting of Melanie Laurent last night. Pretty Happy with it, definitely my best work in terms of technical ability so far. I learnt a lot while painting this piece. The only thing I’m not super happy with is the colouring. Really need to work on being able to mix colours more accurately. Still Heaps of room to improve. Next one will be better! Think I’m happy with my level of skill now to start working on a series of paintings I’ve had in my head for a while. Watch this space.

I’ll try get a proper photo later. (Cropped iPhone photo haha)

Talent vs Skill

A topic I’ve been meaning to discuss for a while is Talent versus Skill. It kind of irks me when someone mentions talent, because it sort of implies that you haven’t worked hard for your ability. I know it’s always used as a compliment, but really SKILL is what really should be acknowledged.

But what’s the difference between Talent & Skill?

An aptitude is a component of a competency to do a certain kind of work at a certain level. Aptitudes may be physical or mental. Aptitude is not knowledge, understanding, learned or acquired abilities (skills) or attitude. The innate nature of aptitude is in contrast to achievement, which represents knowledge or ability that is gained.

So.. Talent (or Aptitude) is natural or innate ability. Skill requires knowledge and ability that is gained through learning / practice (HARD WORK).

Albert Einstein said “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…”

I think everyone is born with some kind of gift. Whether you nurture it and progress it is up to you, and you alone. It’s not raw talent that will get you anywhere, it’s the time you put in to develop this talent into a true skill. Lots of people are talented, but also lots of people don’t make use of this talent and let it go to waste.

I also once read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become a ‘Master’ at something. Whether it be painting, music, science etc. For instance, it would take 10 years of practicing 3 hours a day to become a master in your subject or 5 years of full-time employment to achieve this 10,000 hours. This means that ANYONE can become a master; regardless of initial talent. If you’ve ever wished to become good at something but don’t believe you have the ability then this method proves that you can master a skill by time & hard work alone.

I *try* to draw or paint every day. Even if it is just a little bit. Even if it is just the 10 minutes that I’m on the bus waiting for my stop. Keeping a sketchbook with me all the time has been the best possible investment into myself (and boredom) I’ve ever made. I’ve definitely improved my skill over the past year. For instance; At the start of 2010, I realised that I could not draw people to save myself. (Now you’re probably thinking – you’re being dramatic) But it’s true. I used to hide behind drawing make believe characters which came easy but didn’t really further my skill.
So my first ever sketchbook I made it my goal to get better at drawing people.

Here’s an example of this 10,000 hours of practice thing specific to me (Warning Terrible early drawings are about to be shown):

Left: 2009 / Right: 2011

Left: 2010 / Right: 2011 (Last painting I’ve finished)

So you can definitely see the improvement (I hope!) between the 2 years.

Those earlier works are Terrible and every time I look at them I cringe really badly. I’m super embarrassed about them but I had to show you guys what I mean about putting in TIME if you want to improve. Every piece of work you do, you get better. You learn to use the pencil or brush in a different way. You adapt to the medium every time you use it. Even now with my latest work I tend to not be totally satisfied with it. But that’s natural progression. That is the force that will push you to want to get better. I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of skill, but glad that I’ve recognised that there’s some serious work and time to put in to get where I want to be in the future.

Raymond Klecker, An Artist buddy gave me this quote – “If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are you trying to master something?

For now here’s some more progress on this latest painting.


Recent sketches.

A couple of new drawings. Sorry I haven’t posted in so long!



Happy Holidays!

Sorry the blogs been a bit inactive for the past wee while. These couple of months have been hectic. Have an absolute pile of sketches to scan from my last moleskine. Yes that’s right. I actually completed a new years resolution and finished a whole sketchbook!

Really glad to have a short break at the moment, and just relax in the sun with a cold beverage and good food. What are you doing these holidays? Hope you are all having a good break too.

If you have Instagram or Twitter you should follow me cause the updates are much more frequent!

Here’s a few recent sketches from my instagram feed

Diptych of the very lovely Aayla Mae

aayla mae


And this is the very last drawing in my sketchbook! Really excited to get into my next book and finish another.

Happy Holidays!

New Painting in Progress

Recently I started a new painting. It’s a portrait study of Melanie Laurent from the movie ‘Inglorious Basterds’. I’ve been using it as a chance to practice some new techniques while not really concentrating too hard on subject matter. I was more interested in getting tones correct to show form of the face and sharpening my observational skills in terms of colours as well as to improve technical painting skills.

Pretty happy so far, hopefully I can apply what I’ve learnt from this work onto future paintings that are a bit more imaginative.

Here’s a detail shot of the eyes.


Finally finished this painting last night of Marcelle from I’m pretty happy with the outcome of this one, possibly the first piece of work I’ve done that I’ve been really satisfied with. Acrylics are so hard to work with after you’ve started using oils though.

600 x 450 mm
Acrylic on Canvas.


All finished! Remember it will be on display this Saturday at the ‘Beauty meets the Bizarre’ group show until December 2. Come to the opening and hang out!

Oil on wood panel.
600 x 450 mm.



From my sketchbook

I’m in a Group Painting Show!

Hey all,

I’ll be participating in a group painting show and it will be on the 19th November 2011. This is awesome because A) I’ve never been in a real painting show before. And B) I’ve had a huge amount of motivation to paint. The looming deadline has really helped! and C) I will get to meet up with 14 other awesome artists and check out their work too.

Opening Night: From 3PM Saturday, November 19 – with live music on the day

The show is at:
The Depot Artspace
28 Clarence St
Auckland 0624

So anyway it would be cool if you’re in Auckland then to check it out, come hang out, have a chat and a drink together.

Here’s a work in progress shot of the piece I will be showing. I’m excited to say that it will be the first in a entirely new body of work.


Self-Portrait Progress.

Sorry I haven’t really updated in about a month. Starting to get pretty busy so trying to find the time to do some personal stuff is a bit hard right now. But I’ll have some stuff in the works very soon!

Here’s a closeup shot of my face. Taken with Instagram. Are you on instagram? find me! ‘saminthewolf’


P.S I will be in a group painting show in November, as well as doing some illustration for the Design Assembly end of year event.

Thing’s I’ve learnt so far

So Yesterday was my birthday and I now I’m a quarter century years old. Thought I should make a post and reflect on some things I’ve learnt on my short time on Earth. These are my views only and may not apply to anyone else so please take with a grain of salt! This post is more advice for myself as much as anyone else too.

Spend more time doing the things you love.
It seems simple, but the reality is that it’s hard to find time to do these things sometimes! Working, social life, recreation, menial tasks & errands always seem to get in the way. Make time for YOU. The guys over at Good Fucking Design Advice make a point of “Do it for your fucking self” – Word. Have ‘Passion Projects’. Projects that are self initiated, and you do them because YOU love them. Not anyone else. Your enthusiasm for your own self motivated projects will also spill over into your other work too. Start Now!

You are what you do. Not the things you own.
It’s easy to get caught up in the material world. Guilty. But owning nice things doesn’t change who you are. Sure it might change others perception of you but does it really mean anything? Think about anyone ever great in history,
whether it be good or bad. You remember them for what they did and how it impacted the world, not what house they lived in, what car they drove, or what shoes they wore.

I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to not buy things I don’t NEED lately. And the questions I ask myself before buying are ‘Will this help me to advance my skill or learning?’, ‘Do I need this for work?’ and ‘how much will I use this?’.
That being said, sometimes I treat myself sometimes. I’ve started buying art that I like too, just because I think as an artist, you know how hard it is to make a living. And it’s important to support the community (And it’s helped to make some cool friends interested in the same thing)

Don’t be a dick.
Seems obvious really. You can go through life being a dick, but it’s not to anyone’s advantage – except maybe your own. But what’s the point of being alive if you are only looking out for yourself. Respect the people around you! Be nice. I often hear the saying, ‘Nice guys finish last’ or ‘You can’t be nice in business’. Bullshit! Why not? Befriend your clients and they will come back to you. There’s no reason why you can’t be nice and still do okay. Unless you have no soul and are willing to cut people down for your own success.

Set goals.
In no way shape or form am I really successful yet, but I think I’ve made the first steps to where I WANT to be. And I think it’s because of goals. Think about them. And also, I think it’s been really important that I never had a monetary goal/objective. My only aim in life is to make a living doing something that I love. And now I’m the happiest I’ve been. Make a living is subjective – to me it’s not exactly about being super rich, just enough to survive and be comfortable while loving what I do day to day – Think about it, the average human spends 22% of their life working. It’s pretty hard to think that you could be unhappy at work for a quarter of your life. So dream big!

Don’t be afraid of failure.
Heard it a million times before? It’s true. It’s almost been exactly a year since I started working for myself. Before I resigned from a full time position, I battled with myself for weeks / months on end toying with the idea. I could’ve done it a lot earlier, but why not? I was scared of failing. Don’t listen to people who will tell you that you can’t do it.
In reality, the fear of failure, is much scarier than the actual failing part. In reality, if you don’t succeed, you won’t die (unless your passion is sticking your head into a shark’s mouth or something). And as soon as you remember that failing does not mean death then the world is not such a scary place. I told my parents ‘I’m going to try my hand at going freelance, I’m not sure how it will go, so if I fail and don’t make anything, is it okay if I come back here’ And I think that took the edge off making the plunge. Sure, I have my quiet and busy periods, and it’s not an easy life not knowing when you’ll next get paid. But it’s the most fulfilled and happiest I’ve ever been.

Value your friends.
When you’re young you want to have a lot of friends, but as you get older you value the closer friendships you do have a lot more. Remember when you had 10,000,000 myspace friends? Then you grew older and had 500 facebook friends. Then you realised that it still sucks and you didn’t need facebook at all in the first place. Your real friends know how to get in touch with you.
Surround yourself with positive people and people that have similar & different interests to you. Don’t be around people that will bring you down and make you have less self worth. We don’t have enough time here on earth for that.

Anyway, that’s all folks. There might be more which I’ll add later If I think of anything else.

Thanks if you read that!

In other news, I decided to start on a birthday self portrait. It’s actually a bit of a joke (I’m not THAT self absorbed) I’ve been learning to paint while I haven’t been working on client jobs, and following online tutorials. So thought I’d try do this self portrait to try painting in a more classical style.

Here’s some progress on the underpainting. Hopefully when it’s done I’ll frame it in an obnoxious gold frame.


Is awesome. I went to the museum a few weeks ago and drew some of the taxidermy animals they had on display in the natural history section.

Click for larger image.

Red & Blue

Been teaching myself to paint with oil lately.