Sam Octigan is a Melbourne artist/illustrator with somewhat of an obsession for recording his ideas and sketches. His workspace is lined with books full of the evidence of his constant thought processes, with pages upon pages of his figurative works in progress. Naturally, he was a perfect choice for our Take Note series. Presented by high-end stationers NoteMaker, the feature series sees us give a number of local creatives a Moleskin and a collection of pens and other tools. We then revisit them in a month to see the fruits of their creative labour and talk to them about the importance of ‘taking note’.
Sam’s detailed figurative works walk the line between fine art and illustration. The images could be at home on a band flyer as much as they could sit comfortably on a gallery wall. This comes as no surprise given his own ties to music. To celebrate the second feature in the Take Note series, NoteMaker are giving away Sam’s customised Cahier notepad (pictured in the spread) and a one year subscription to ACCLAIM to a lucky ready, head on over here to enter.
How would you describe your creative practice to a stranger?
It depends who I’m talking to, but generally I’ll say I’m an artist illustrator and I work over a pretty broad range of styles and mediums. Mainly traditional media so lots of painting, drawing etc.
At what point did you realise you were going to pursue a career as an artist?
Like most creative types I always knew that I wanted to do something creative but it wasn’t until I studied illustration that I realised that being an artist, illustrator/freelance creative, call it whatever, was going to be the best and most satisfying way to go about creating the work I wanted to create.
What are some of your main weapons of choice?
What are some things that trigger your creative process?
It can literally be anything, but most commonly seeing other great creative work in all different disciplines. Weather it’s another painter or illustrator, or a filmmaker, photographer or a great band etc, something will fire in my head and I’ll need to get an idea down either in a notebook or on my phone depending on where I am. It always follows with the need to get back to work though, haha.
When do you feel most creative?
I guess when an idea or image is coming to life and it’s working. Other artist’s can probably relate but that feeling when one good idea leads to another and you turn a corner on a visual problem or an image that isn’t quite working.
When you figure out what it needs and everything just starts coming together without the feeling like you have to work for it, you know the image is working and you’re just in the moment letting it unfold almost unconsciously.
Describe your creative process, how does one of your artworks begin?
Like I said earlier, everything starts in a sketchbook usually as a very rough thumbnail or scribble. Each piece goes through a few stages of sketching, with a different level of detail usually depending on how much time I have or how involved the project is. Once things like composition, color, design etc are worked out I try to keep the momentum going with the final product.
How important is getting ideas on paper? How do you formulate ideas?
Pretty crucial. A lot of my work can be quite detailed or incorporate different elements so it’s important to make sure an idea works in the sketch stage before you go investing hard hours on a canvas.
How do you feel when you first start a drawing?
It depends on what kind of drawing it is. If it’s something that’s pretty detailed or is going to take quite awhile and I know I’ve done the development work, then I feel great. Then some pieces need that spontaneity, that natural energy that comes from just drawing without knowing where it’s going, which is a different kind of positive feeling. Two different ways to enjoy creating art.
If you get an idea on the go, how you do you record it?
Most of the time I’ve got a sketchbook with me, or if I not I’ll write down a note on my phone.
Where do you seek inspiration on a daily basis?
Either on the net or in a book/magazine.
Describe your workspace? Where do you feel most comfortable creating?
Well, I’ve recently set up my studio back home after I spent this year sharing a space (615) with a group of other creatives. Both situations have their pros and cons. It’s great having people around you while you work, you get to feed off their energy, bounce ideas around and collaborate on projects etc. On the other hand I find there are times when I do enjoy the solitary side of creating, being totally focused with zero distractions.
What tunes are on heavy rotation when you’re at work?
All kinds. Lately, Chris Bell, Cocteau Twins, Inspiral Carpets, Soul Search, the new Killer’s record. The man Mike D put me onto Lapalux, which is good to work to.
Are there any particular subject matters that you always seem to be drawn to?
I guess if I had to pick, I’ve always been drawn to figurative and portraiture work, though I really like to explore all kinds of different areas and feel my work and the subjects within it are constantly evolving.
What is your typical day?
Get up early, breakfast and coffee while catching up on emails and blogs etc. Work, work, work. Exercise in the evening, dinner, kick it with my housemates, movie, then bed!
If you were not an artist, what would you be doing?
I’d probably have more to do with music.