Sam Spratt was brought to my attention through my tumblr feed with this incredible portrait of Katniss from Hunger Games.
It stopped me in my tracks. The intense realism, the depth of the color palette, the destroyed expression on her face… I’m struggling to find words for this. Every once in awhile, I see art that moves me in a big way, makes me feel something strong and tangible. This is one of those pieces and upon further inspection of Sam Spratt’s other works, I found many more. Be warned, this may become as much of a gushing post as Natalia Fabia’s was! 🙂
On Sam’s website, he says that he uses traditional oil painting methods and training with digital mediums. This enables him to achieve the rich qualities of an oil painting very quickly (once completing a piece for an article in 20 minutes!). He’s done over 400 article paintings for Gawker media, hired on for a period of 9 months as their first on-staff artist in 2010. And he’s only 22 years old! He became famous when his realistic paintings of internet memes went viral. Angry Birds creators Rovio have contracted him for a new project and some of the subjects of his realistic portraits have commissioned special prints of his work. Suffice to say that this guy is on fire.
His works are incredibly diverse; I wouldn’t say that he has a concrete “style” but his work is immediately recognizable based on the sheer skill, level of detail and expert use of color. To me, there’s nothing obviously digital about these works, they are simply paintings done in a digital way. He does everything from stunning realism, to wacky caricatures, to lifelike visions of fictional characters, even medical diagrams. When asked by Maxim about what inspires him, what he does if he’s ever feeling dry creatively, he discusses that he doesn’t really ever feel that way.
“Fellow artists always tell me I’m a jackass for this, but I’m just never creatively dry. I have a constant mass of ideas in my head and I don’t think there has been a single moment since I started as a professional artist where I have had to pause to think about what to make. I hate the hippy notion of being one with the world, but it baffles me when people struggle creatively. Look outside your window for a minute and you should see something utterly incredible. Perhaps that goes back to seeing beauty in the trivial facets of life though.”
His relentlousness and enthusiam for art is incredible and reminds me of my own passion for art, why I’m doing any of this in the first place. I love his no-nonsense approach to art, that while sometimes it’s good for art to have meaning and involve physcoanalysis and the like, it’s also okay for it to just happen, intuitively, and be beautiful just because.
His website has a vast portfolio of his best work and on top of that he’s posted a few process time-lapse videos as well. The video belows shows how he worked through his realistic version of the x-all-the-y meme. Basically, he starts with a very detailed black and white underpainting and layers glazes of color overtop of it, occasionally making it more opaque as he sees fit.
Seeing his work makes me want to give tablets a second chance. Perhaps I’ve only been struggling with them since I’m still learning with traditional mediums as well. Every finished piece is a lesson for me right now, and every time I start a new one I bring more knowledge with me. In time, I hope I can comfortably translate that knowledge to digital mediums. In the mean time, I just need to knock through as many pieces as I can and keep growing, learning and feeling good about it all the while.