Illustrator

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Interview: Sam Larson, Artist

Interview

Sam Larson is a freelance artist and designer based out of Portland, OR hailing from Wisconsin. He’s the creative mind behind Steel Bison, his wildly popular brand of Old West-inspired art and designs that have amassed a huge following on social media. Join us as we talk with Sam about getting inspired, putting in your work, and how his everyday carry equips him to stay creative whenever and wherever inspiration strikes.
What’s a day in the life of a freelance designer like?
I draw and design things from my studio every day. The work varies depending on what projects I have going at the the time. I also run my own online store where I sell stickers, prints, buttons, patches, apparel, notebooks, etc. I design, source suppliers, package, and ship everything myself. That also takes a good chunk out of my daily time.

Your work has a unique, focused feel to it. How did you develop this style and from where do you draw inspiration?
I gather my inspiration from many places. The Western United States plays a huge role in shaping my art. If anyone has ever traveled through it, you will understand why: the people, the landscapes, the animals. It's a beautiful place. I recently moved up to Portland, OR from San Diego, CA. It is such a creative city, filled with incredible artists. I am constantly surrounded by inspiring people. Besides gathering my inspiration from my surroundings and nature, I like old travel souvenirs. Things like postcards, brochures, patches and pennants from the early-mid 1900s.

When you’re not sitting down with some paper and pens, what are you usually up to?
I like to get outside and go hiking and camping. The Pacific Northwest is great for that. Over the last two years I've become pretty interested in basketball (mostly watching, I'm awful). Overall though, I spend most of my time creating in some way.
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What's in your everyday carry?

Handmade Wallet — I made this myself.
iPhone 5 — What I take all my Instagram photos with.
Apple Headphones — Easy for on-the-go music and podcasts.
Beanie — It’s been through a lot and has been stitched back together a couple of times.
Keys and an old copper arrowhead souvenir on a Kimberlin Co. Brass Key Hook
BIC Mechanical Pencil — for occasionally sketching rough outlines before inking
Copic Multiliners — for inking
Copic marker — for coloring
Letraset marker — for coloring
Steel Bison pocket notebook — for notes, ideas, and quick sketches.

Why do you EDC?
Most of what I carry on a daily basis is to have on me if I need to write or sketch down an idea at any point. If I have some time to kill while waiting, I will pull out my little pocket notebook and sketch.
Is there anything in particular you've been meaning to add to your EDC? If not, what's your favorite item out of all your daily essentials?
There is nothing I feel like I need to add at this moment. I'm not that guy that lugs around a 50 pound backpack everywhere. I try to keep things as simple as possible. My pocket notebooks are probably my favorite thing. I've sketched some of my favorite art in those.
Can you tell us about any cool upcoming projects you’ve got in the works?
There are a bunch of cool projects I have been privileged to work on lately. Unfortunately with most bigger product design jobs, they are done a year or two in advance and can't be shared until launching.
I have a lot of new products that I've been working on. They will launch on my online store over next couple months. That's pretty exciting. New pocket notebooks, pennants, t-shirts, stickers, patches, pins. Can't wait to share them with people.
As an accomplished creative with a loyal fan base and strong individual style, what secret would you tell our readers striving for that kind of success?
I feel like there is no secret with art. People think there is. They think things like a certain brand of pen will make their art much better. Honestly, what I think is hard work does and will pay off. People want overnight success. Especially in this social media-crazed world. Put in your 10,000 hours. One of my least favorite comments to get is "I wish I could do that". Stop wishing and start doing and you "can do that", or at least come closer to being able to. Put your time in and good things will happen.
Head over to Sam’s website, SamLarsonArt.com, to find more of his art, his store, and other ways to connect with him.
Images in this interview provided by Sam Larson