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Meet Sam Gallagher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sam Gallagher.

Hi Sam, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I have been creating art since before I could even walk. As a child, my grandma was instrumental in introducing me to the art world. She has always been the driving force, helping me see all the beauty in the world, and she and I have always bonded over our love for creating. Every day after school, we would work on little art projects together, and I would spend the whole day looking forward to them. Even to this day, she continues to help me grow and will always be my biggest inspiration and mentor through it all.

As I grew older, art became my favorite subject in school. I owe so much to my art teachers, who became my mentors and biggest cheerleaders- encouraging me to keep learning and immersing myself in the world of art. In high school and college, I dedicated a majority of my time to creative opportunities, majoring in art in high school and then majoring in architecture with minors in art and art history in college.

Fast forward to 2020, I moved out to Colorado with the goal of spending time in the mountains, where I love to sketch, paint, and gather even more inspiration for my future pieces. Previously, living in a densely populated metropolis, I could not find the inner source of my creativity. Living here- I find I am finally free to watch my skills grow and spend more time with what makes me happy.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I have been very fortunate throughout the years to have so many people showing their love and support for my art, and for this, I am so thankful. But there have been moments where it has not always been this way. Growing up in New York City, academics were very competitive and I constantly pushed myself in school, thinking I was eventually going to pursue some sort of engineering or other STEM field. When it came time to transition into high school in New York, I was faced with an extremely tough decision. After months of testing, auditioning, and prepping transcripts for schools all around the city, I had to make the choice between attending a vigorous STEM-oriented school, or Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and the Performing Arts, the top-tier school for anyone pursuing the arts across the city. My parents were determined to have me go to the science school, only because in looking out for my best interests, they thought that would be the wisest route. In their minds, pursuing art meant following the “starving artist” troupe. My dreams were shattered. I begged, pleaded, and even tried to persuade my other family members to help my parents understand. Eventually, after ample convincing, my parents agreed to let me attend LaGuardia High School for the Arts, where I spent four wonderful years building up all my skills.

Even after the fight, I had put up to focus on my art in school when it came time to apply to college, I still somehow convinced myself that engineering would be the path for me. About one month into attending UMass Amherst for civil engineering, I realized I had made a grave mistake. My brain was itching for some semblance of creativity, reaching for any opportunity to draw or make something. It was at this point that I realized engineering was not for me. I immediately transferred programs, deciding instead to pursue architecture. Two years into immersing myself in this program and exploring the art foundations that came with it, I still could not get enough art. I worked extremely hard those first three years in college, eventually paying off with the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy. There, I lived the art life I had always wanted- spending hours a day oil painting in my art studios, taking a sketchbook class that led to adventures throughout the streets of the city, and even beginning my senior thesis through the architectural studies I was making of the sites around me.

Nowadays, my biggest obstacles between me and my art have been time management, mental health, and finances. After graduating from college in 2020, I was sent out into the work field, battered from the pandemic and struggling to make ends meet at times. Art can be a very expensive form of expression, especially when people such as myself work across an array of mediums. Working to afford art supplies has led to even longer hours, which in turn has led to less time making art. This vicious cycle is one that I am still growing out of, but each day I continue to make adjustments so that I can have time for the things that I love and that bring me joy.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I do a little bit of everything in my art! I work with drawing, painting, signage art, graphic design, architectural studies, jewelry, model-making, and printmaking. I would say at the end of the day, however, I am most consistently a sketchbook artist. For the past nine years, I have been flying through sketchbooks, carrying them along with me every day as a means of experimenting, processing, and practicing. Oftentimes my larger-scale ideas begin there, through sketches, concept work, and a lot of trial and error. Collecting sketchbooks has been a wonderful way to track my work throughout the years and makes it so rewarding to see all the progress I continue to make.

Outside of my sketchbook art, I am most proud of the work I continue to make using various paint mediums. Primarily I use watercolor, but I have started experimenting with gouache this past year, and I am already loving the results. Additionally, my older pen and ink work is something that I am very proud of. With my architectural background, this medium is one that I am particularly fond of since the foundation of most of my architecture work began there. It is definitely the medium I feel I am able to express myself most fluidly through and furthermore, bring out the most detail.

In terms of pieces, my two best works would definitely be my master copy of Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Judith Beheading Holofernes” and my landscape painting, “Evergreen.” In both of these, I feel as though my style is able to come through most coherently. Within them is a clear homage to many of my favorite impressionist painters, with small dashed strokes, an abundance of subtle colors, and very soft lines. I believe this style makes my work stand out, as I tend to stray away from photorealism, use particular ranges of colors, and lean into the fluid, dynamic, and loose style the impressionists used.

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
I am still in the very early stages of starting my business, so I know I have a lot to learn in terms of networking. Over the years, I have made a lot of connections with my schoolmates and coworkers in the art community, and they have been an incredible resource for exploring new art methods and entering into the sales world. One of my biggest supporters and mentors has been my friend, Lia De Lyon (@liadelyonart). Lia has been running her own art business for several years now, and with my first festival this past month, at the Denver Botanic Gardens Lavender Festival, Lia was instrumental in helping me put everything together and fully understand the ins and outs of craft fairs.

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