SKGN in conversation
Artist, Designer and Ex Track Athlete Sam Nicklin takes some time to talk us through his work, the reason it exists, his process and what the future of his work looks like.
We’re a huge fan of Sam’s aesthetic. The ambition to represent everything in it’s purest form, has led to his visual subjects being represented as line-work. The duality between the running lines of a track, referencing Sam’s athletic history and the comparison of running with his design process has us super excited. Enjoy!
O; Sam, Talk to us about your hand style, Is it fair to say it takes discipline & control?
S; Oh 100%, but patience is key. With any form of art patience plays a huge role in the process. Most of my designs are a final version of several ‘test runs’, but I’ve been drawing in this style for a little while now so it has got easier! You also have to learn when to stop. Honestly there have been a few occasions where I’ve been redoing a design several times to then realise that it has barely changed! I guess the control just comes with practice, and after plenty of mistakes!
O; What is it about a reduction in colour that appeals to you?
S; Don’t get me wrong I love colour, but I love the simplicity of black and white. I sometimes throw out the odd colour but I think with black and white artwork it allows you to concentrate on the actual lines better. And it also allows the work to be pretty universal which helps! Minimalism has always been a favourite style of mine though, I just appreciate taking complex things and making them more simple. I’ve described my line work as ‘very organised chaos’ before. I’m gradually adding more colour to my pieces, or sometimes I work with a single colour like red or pink to stand out.
O; Your hand style looks strong enough to stand alone, so why was it that you started combining it with trainers?
S; So I actually get asked this question a fair bit. I started drawing mainly the human form (mostly female) because I think it’s so interesting, but I’ve always wanted to explore architecture and product design so I started playing around with objects. I’m a sneaker head at heart and love trainers, so I thought I might as well give it a go and I guess I liked the turnout! I also quite liked reimagining fashion in my own way, and the way trainers are made has so many ‘lines’ that go unseen, so I gave myself the job of finding them!
O; Could you talk us through one of your favourite pieces?
S; It would have to be one of my latest pieces of work, the beginning of my “LACES” collection where I create my single line style out of actual shoelaces. My favourite trainer by far is the Nike Air Force 1, so obviously I had to start with that. Initially I had to do what I always do and draw out the shoe with a single line. Normally I would then just clean that up and post up, but instead I would use that as a template and begin pinning down the shoelaces over the lines. When I decided to do this it seemed a lot easier than it actually is, but after several hours and many small pin injuries (in future Sam use a thimble or something you idiot) it turned out pretty well! It’s a solid start to a new collection!
O; We noticed you took your work onto a real trainer, talk us through the transition into the physical and the 3D, has it changed how you work?
S; Initially the transition threw me off completely, I knew it would be a different process but I did have to take a few steps back and revaluate my ‘typical’ process. Drawing out the actual design to put on the trainer is relatively easy as I draw up the design and then Photoshop it onto a photo of the real shoe so I have a reference to work from. The main issue is that I paint on the shoe rather than draw it on, which is something I’m not the best at I’ll admit. But with patience and practice hopefully I’ll get the hang of it soon enough!
O; Both running and designing have an element of meditation and escapism about them, do you find that in your work?
S; Well being an ex-athlete I completely agree. I used to run track and sprint professionally before I went to university and loved the discipline combined with complete freedom that came along with it. When I really started to pursue my art I found that it became second nature which reminded me of running so strongly. It’s a very calming process, the way I draw, it doesn’t feel like I’m working at all really.
O; What can we expect to see from you in the future?
S;There is A LOT in the pipeline. I’m the kind of person who likes to keep lots of projects on the go constantly, I couldn’t hack doing the same thing day in day out. I have a huge portrait collection that I’m constantly adding to, and I’ve got so many concepts for trainers to do in the future. I’m really looking forward to showing more of my work to everyone, when it’s done.