Artist of the Week: Sam Taylor

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By day Sam Taylor can be found manically scribbling illustrations and by night you can find Sam Taylor... well, pretty much doing the same thing. Through no small feat, he's stacked up an impressive list of clients from Lazy Oaf to VICE and with his out-there graphics and satirical wit it isn't hard to see why. Not shy of a bit of hard graft, we sat down the Leicester native to chat The Simpsons, his love of pork pies and bowling in Elephant & Castle.

For those who don't know, tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

Hello, my name is Sam Taylor and I'm an illustrator. I live in Camberwell, London and work from home. I draw lots of things, for myself and for anyone else who asks.

You've worked with some pretty big names; VICE, Nike, Lazy Oaf... we could go on. Which commission have you been most proud of to date?

I have a lot of repeat clients, like VICE and NME and I'm proud that I've got these relationships that have lasted for years. I have a lot of freedom with them and they basically let me do whatever I want as long as it's to brief. My work for Converse was a pretty big deal so I'm obvs very happy with that but also I did a ten-page comic version of the opera Lucia Di Lammermoor for the Bavarian State Opera's magazine, Max Joseph, recently and I'm stoked with how that turned out. Their magazine is beautifully designed and they take risks with who they commission, so it was fun working with them. They're good peoples.

Your style is really out there. Where do you start when you're beginning a new drawing and where do you pull your inspiration from?

At a very basic, drawing level I always start with the eyes. But ideas-wise I have a sketchbook full of drawings and filter them into my commercial work. I'm always drawing and making personal stuff and I mix it all up. I'm inspired by everything that I encounter in life, like most people. I listen to podcasts, watch films; recently because it's been Halloween I've been watching stupid mid-00s remakes of classic Wes Craven films, they're really funny and gross. I guess I'm inspired by 'the absurd'. Any film where someone's head explodes is worth watching to me.

You moved from Leicester to London to study illustration at Camberwell. What do you miss about the North?

Absolutely fuck all.

Haha nah, I joke. I miss the pork pies, Filbert The Fox, crisps for dinner every night, Gary Linekar coming round and having a cup o' tea, King Richard 3rd and the comforting feeling that I'm in the exact centre of England, furthest from the sea. But I don't think Leicester is Northern, it's in the Midlands.

Which themes do you like to incorporate into your work? We notice The Simpsons crop up quite a bit, what is it about '90s subculture and satire that appeals to you?

I've chilled on The Simpsons stuff recently but I still love it, as a show and drawing fan art of it. I've skateboarded since I was about 13 so I've always been involved in subculture, so it's normal to me to be influenced by that kind of stuff. When I was growing up it wasn't as popular as it is now so attracted a lot more freaks and geeks, I was always cool though. With skateboarding you're taught to view the world differently, that's a key element: Imagining what you can do.

What do you do when you're not drawing? We hear you're a keen skater.

This is true, although I don't skate anyway near as much as I did a few years ago. When I was a student it was all I cared about and rightly so, 'cus it's the best. Now I skate when I can but also play football twice a week and when it gets cold I like to go bowling at Elephant & Castle. I learnt a lot about art from skateboarding and met some great people who taught me things, like Chris Morgan (owner of Science Skateboards) and Fos (owner of Heroin Skateboards). When you're out skating it's not all about doing the best tricks, there's a lot of downtime where you just talk and make up ideas and be silly. But talking of 'doing the best tricks' go on YouTube and search 'Sam Taylor skateboarding' - I've got some sections on there that were very ahead of their time when they came out haha.

Who are the illustrators you're following right now?

Loads of people! All the homies, Kyle Platts, Tom Slater, Jay Wright, Pete Sharp, Loz Slater, Jack Sachs, Charlotte Mei. Legends in the game like Johnny Ryan, James Jarvis, Henning Van Wagenbreth, Jiro Bevis. And people I've discovered in the past few years like Julian Glander, Patrick Kyle and Michael Olivio. I could go on and on and on, I try to just follow artists on Instagram and only post illustrations, 100% business, NO FUN EVER.

What's next on the horizon? Any exciting projects coming up?

Yup! I've got some cool things coming out soon. A board game with ZEIT Magazin out in Germany in a special issue they're doing, that's mental, so stoked on it, and I've got something coming out with the biggest company in the world but I can't say exactly what it is so keep your eyes constantly attached to my Instagram and Twitter feeds for news. No sleeping!!

Head over to Sam's website, or follow him on instagram. Interview by Danielle Morgan.