Sam Wagner is a New York-based artist who focuses on shape and harmony of composition. His work attempts to stray away from the expected use of value and perspective to draw a childlike wonder from the viewer. Sam’s fascination with bold lines, hard edges, and technology can be seen in his primarily geometric abstract, and Suprematism works. He hopes to create structure and clarity often unavailable in daily life.
1) Which art movement do you consider most influential on your practice?
My art pulls from a variety of influences but if I had to pick one it would be Neo-plasticism. I work a lot with strong geometric shapes, but I incorporate modern techniques and mediums that were unavailable in the early 1900s.
2) Where do you go and when to make your best art?
My studio in Connecticut. Big art does not fit in a tiny apartment in New York City.
3) How do you describe your 'creative process'?
My creative process is still evolving, I’m paying close attention to patterns in my process. It happens most often when I am not trying to create anything, with ideas often coming to me during my morning meditation, or seconds before I fall asleep. During that silence, a brief moment of clarity reveals itself...often and in an instant, the painting comes to me almost fully formed. The color, shape, size, texture, and perspective as if I had already created it. I scribble it down in the hopes that tomorrow I will be up to the challenge of creating what I saw.
4) Which artist, living or deceased, is the greatest inspiration to you?
It may sound a bit cliche, but Jackson Pollock. I grew up in New York, and after my first museum visit, my dad bought me a poster of Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950 that we had seen that day. It has fascinated me. Something about it still, to this day, captivates me, and I take inspiration from that feeling every time I paint. I aspire to create the same emotional attachment in my work as his work created for me.
5) If you weren't an artist, what would you do?
I worked in marketing for startups before becoming a full-time artist, so I probably would still be doing that. Yet, if I had a dream job outside of being an artist, It would be working on product design for bleeding-edge technology.
6) What do you listen to for inspiration?
I’m obsessed with audiobooks. I primarily listen to non-fiction, I enjoy learning about other perspectives and life philosophies. I also enjoy reading about design and the invention process of things we consider everyday items that were merely fiction just a few years. Often this information bubbles up while I create and ends up influencing my art. However, I paint in silence.
7) If you could own one artwork, and money was no object, which piece would you acquire?
Julie Mehretu - Empirical Construction, Istanbul - 2003 This piece is stunning. Something about its size, composition, and palette just creates that sense of childlike wonder that is hard to describe. She is a massive inspiration to my work.
8) If your dream museum or collection owner came calling, which would it be?
The New York Guggenheim Museum, I have always been fascinated with Solomon R. Guggenheim and the museum’s architecture and history, even going so far as to write extensive-term papers in high school and college on the subject.
9) What is your key piece of advice for artists embarking on a fine art or creative degree today?
As a young artist, you are forced to make tough decisions, you must push forward on your own path, using your best judgment and wisdom from your mentors.
10) What is your favorite book of all time (fiction or non fiction)?
Hard to say; it can change depending on my mood. Yet if I had to pick one of each (I know that was not the question, but I can't decide) Fiction: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, this book has so much creativity, and world-building, it feels tangible. If you saw the movie, I’m sorry. Non-fiction: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, a must-read for those searching for balance.
11) If you could hang or place your artwork in one non traditional art setting, where would that be?
I have many ideas about ceiling art and sculpture; people don’t look up enough but don’t worry, I’m working on some.
12) What was the biggest lesson your university course or time studying taught you?
If you are told “you must do” something, ask why. I have learned more from the answer to that question than I have by the lesson.
13) And finally, if we were to fast forward 10 years, where would we find you?
Hopefully, you can’t find me; only learn where I was the previous day, week, or month—skiing when conditions are right, painting when inspiration strikes, and traveling around the world to learn from masters in a wide variety of fields.
Learn more about Sam and discover his collection of paintings.