It’s my pleasure to introduce everyone to artist Sam Pletcher! You can check out Sam’s Etsy shop and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and check out her website!
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?
Art is something that I’ve always done, even before I knew what I was doing was considered art. It sort of just pours of my ears, even when I’m not really paying attention, I’ll find myself sketching or creating some random rearrangement of the things around me. I tell people a lot of my practice comes from not being able to sit still, and that is one hundred percent a true fact. My embroidery work began out of a desire to make my mark onto clothing but to also give my hands something to do while relaxing, (which sounds a little backwards) like watching a movie or talking on speakerphone to my mom. And before embroidery, it was doodling, and before doodling it was friendship bracelets and before that, it was making lanyards at camp. (It is no shock that I have given many homemade gifts over the years.) So armed with all of this energy and love for making, I entered college where I studied art, and was taught the importance of segregating art and craft, which just generally confused me. A lot of what I create in my art is based in my knowledge of crafting, as I think is pretty common for most artists, particularly female artists. Craft is an accessible form of art, in my opinion, so it seems pointless to exclude it from the conversation.
What is life like in Portland, Oregon? Any favorite spots that get you inspired?
Portland is an awesome place to live for artists. The rainy times can make for some great introspective creative moments, especially in the winter because the rainy gray season does provide kind of a natural “hibernation” almost, where you can kind of hunker down and get really focused on your art. That may not sound super exciting but the best part about rain is that it literally makes Oregon so green. The trees, the grass, the flowers (the roses in particular) everything grows like crazy thanks to the rain. And once the winter is over, you can really see how beautiful this place is. Being born and raised in the Midwest, the most magical thing about living in Portland is that I can drive to the ocean in less than two hours. It’s magical, it’s healing and it’s very cold.
As far as in town, it’s so hard to pick a favorite place to get inspired because I find new exciting spots all of the time. The City of Portland has an amazing public art program, so there are murals and sculptures and interactive pieces of art all throughout the city, some of which are gigantic and hard to miss and others that are only three inches tall and only available to the most observant. Downtown Portland houses America’s seventh oldest art museum, the Portland Art Museum, which is filled with wonderful works and is always worth spending the afternoon in. I could keep going on about Portland, but I’ll stop myself there. It’s obviously an amazing place to live and I’m glad I’ve found it.
My first solo show was super fun and definitely nontraditional as far as most art exhibitions. The venue was at an awesome vintage candy store here in Portland (Candy Babel on NE Alberta St), that features lots of different bright colors of candy in glass jars among cool unique vintage furniture pieces. And somewhat unsurprisingly my artwork fit in really well with the décor, since both are quirky and colorful. There was great feedback from friends and strangers on my art during the opening reception and throughout the entire month my show remained up. I can’t wait for more exhibitions, I definitely have plenty of ideas.
What are some of your go-to art products?
My favorite paint to use on fabric is Jacquard Fabric Paints, specifically:
Textile Color, a nice semi-opaque fabric paint
Lumiere, a pretty metallic sheened fabric paint that covers dark backgrounds
Neopaque, a fabric paint like the Textile Color, but goes on dark backgrounds
What is your like process for creating your hand-painted t-shirts?
Each shirt is totally unique, since I hand paint every one. Currently, I’m choosing to paint a one of a kind set of images on each shirt, which is time intensive but very rewarding. The way I approach creating the designs is very similar to doodling out a train of thought. I’ll pick out maybe four or five colors of paint and then I stand over the shirt and think. Starting the piece is always difficult, since you need to come up with that first image to paint. I don’t like to begin with a specific idea or theme or train of thought in my head, because it doesn’t feel as organic as when I let my brain roam freely in my associations of different objects, just thinking about and picking one at a time. It is such a small difference, I know, but I really enjoy stepping back once I finish a shirt and finding the common thread or small narrative I created through my painted doodles. I think someday I may paint shirts that are not all one of a kind, and maybe focus on one image on many shirts, but for now I am enjoying my slow process!
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