Meet Local Artist Sam Wiebkin

Eastern Bluebird, Oil on 6 x 6 Wood Panel

Multi-Media Artist

Every week I highlight a local Upper Valley artist or maker. I give them a list of questions and they choose to answer as many of them however they'd like. I hope you enjoy meeting our local artists! 

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This week I'd like to introduce you to Sam Wiebkin, Multi-Media Artist

Sketchbook, ink pen

Bio and History

My name is Sam Wiebkin, I'm 25. I grew up in Lebanon and returned after finishing college. I'm a little all over the place with my art. I paint and draw, but also sew and embroidery for my Etsy shop, and even dabble a little in printmaking. I love having differing projects I can jump to when something gets tedious. I'm inspired by music, nature, anatomy, and scifi/fantasy imagery. 

How did you get started with art? Have you had any training?

Just like anyone else you'll probably hear from, I've been drawing since I was a child. Even at an elementary school age I had always considered drawing to be the only thing I was actually good at, so I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2014, where I studied Illustration with a minor in Creative Writing and received my BFA.

When did you first define yourself as an artist?

Probably in high school, although I don't know that I truly believed it until my senior year of college when I started to consistently make work that I was proud of. By that point I felt like I was finally getting a grasp on the techniques I had been taught and could execute them in a way that felt right for me. 

Do you make art for a living? If you don’t make your living doing art, what do you do in “real life”?

Unfortunately I don't. To pay my bills I work as a receptionist at DHMC and at the Lebanon public libraries as a circulation/reference sub. 

How much time do you spend doing art?

Not enough, or not as much as I would like. My schedule tends to be pretty busy, balancing two jobs and all other matters of daily life, but I try to fill a page or two of my sketchbook every week or find two or three hours to work on a painting or commission. 

Where do you work? What is your studio/space like?

My apartment is really great and has an office with plenty of natural light that I use as a studio. 

What are your passions outside of art? What’s something non-creative that you do to balance and recharge?

When I get the chance I read. As someone who works in a library you'd think I'd read more than I actually do, but I've always loved reading. I find that, especially when I'm having a creative block, reading or experiencing someone else's creative work can spark some much needed inspiration. 


What medium/media do you use? Why do you like it/them?

I can get bored if I've been working in a particular medium for too long so I like to switch things up. Lately I've been painting mostly in oils on wood panel but I enjoy gouache, acrylics, and drawing with pen as well. I also love embroidering because it's so radically different from some of the other work I do. The tactile nature of fabric crafting is appealing and often therapeutic for me.

White Moth, Embroidery, 5"

What medium have you tried that you don’t like?

In high school and college I tried making ceramics and working in clay but I really can't stand having my hands that messy and I was terrible at it. 

If you had only one kind of art supply to use for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I would probably pick something simple like a black pen for drawing. 

What do you do with pieces you don’t like?

If it's really bad or I can't salvage it I'll toss it (I'm sure this comes much to my mother's dismay). I don't really have room in my apartment to keep things I don't like and I've usually learned what I can from the piece by knowing it didn't turn out the way I wanted. 

Creation and Inspiration

Where do you get your ideas? How do you get started on a piece? How do you know when you’re done?

A lot of the work I do in my sketchbook is inspired by song lyrics or music I'm into at the time. I'm also really inspired by tattoo line art. My embroideries gravitate more towards my love of nerd culture, whether that's films, TV shows, or books, but has grown to include more nature elements. Lately most of my paintings are of things I haven't had much experience painting before, a lot of flowers, skulls, birds, insects, all from reference. Everything starts out as a sketch so I can figure out composition and then builds from there. As far as knowing when something is done, if I'm sick of looking at the piece it's probably time to call it quits.

What’s the best thing about being an artist? What’s the worse?

For me the best part is how cathartic it is to create something. The worst part is pricing my art, trying not to undersell yourself but also knowing that some people don't understand why you should get paid for something you like to do. 

What makes you unique as an artist?

I'd like to think my versatility is unique. I'll try anything once. I've had commissions range from portrait embroideries of couples and pets to altering Magic the Gathering playing Cards.

How do you get past a creative block?

I'm of the belief that not all seasons are for creating, so I try not to beat myself up if everything I make comes out terrible for a time. Consuming other mediums helps me. Listening to music, reading, seeing a film is so beneficial to me. Traveling is great too, just getting out of my standard environment can work wonders. 

What is your dream project?

I'd really love to write and illustrate a graphic novel. 

What are your fears as an artist?

I used to have a fear that no one would like what I make but I've since realized that that doesn't matter. 

What’s the best piece of advice (or a quote) you’ve been given regarding art and creativity?

"The rules on what is possible and impossible in the arts were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them." - Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art commencement speech from May 2012

Summer Skull, Oil on 9 x 12" Wood Panel

About Art and Artists

What do people not realize about being an artist?

A lot of it is trial and error.  I think some people assume there is one "right" way to do something but just like most things in life we often just wing it and hope it works. 

What do you think are the qualities that define an artist?

Anyone who creates something meaningful, even if it's only for them, is an artist. The effort is what's most important. 

What do you admire in other artists?

I'll always admire someone's drive to find time for their passions and interests, along with their desire to share their work with others.

Is there an artist you particularly admire/emulate/enjoy? Why?

I follow a bunch of amazingly talented artists on Instagram/Youtube but one of my favorites is Fran Meneses. She's a Chilean illustrator who currently lives and works out of Hastings, UK. Her day-to-day comics are so relatable but what I admire most about her is her work ethic. She's not afraid to admit when she's taken on too much work or is feeling stressed out, her ability to be honest about what she does is something I can empathize with. Fran's Instagram: @frannerd

Sharing Your Art

Do you accept commissions? What is the process for working with you to create a custom piece?

I do when I have the time. The best way to get started would be to contact me, either through email, my artist's page, or Etsy (whichever is easiest for them). From there it's just a back and forth conversation about what they're looking for, time frame, and cost. I like to keep people in the loop, give them updates and pictures along the way to make sure everything is coming along the way they'd hoped. 

Where is your favorite place to take a class/workshop (locally or otherwise)?

I've taken a handful of classes at AVA since growing up in Lebanon, and I've gone back as a walk-in in recent months to their figure drawing sessions. 

Where can we find you/your work? 

I update most frequently on Instagram but also have an artist Facebook page as well. My Etsy shop is where I sell all my fabric and embroidery crafts.

Lillies, Embroidery, 5"


Would you like to be featured in "Meet the Local Artist"? Email Amy at RVCAmy at gmail dot com 

Did you enjoy this interview? You might also like:

Last Week's Interview - Robin Nuse, Pastel and Oil Artist

Next Week's Interview - Nancy Roy, turning memories into totebags

Want to see more?  Subscribe

More about the author, Amy Fortier: Her Artist Interview 

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