Samuel T. Adams always wanted to be an artist. As member of the ever-growing Bushwick crew, he is hacking out a living with his paintings and collages that display his evolving style. Adams' latest technique involves transferring paint from plastic to canvas. But we'll let him explain. On a brutally hot day in late June, we sat in his studio, drank Budweiser out of American flag cans, and discussed making it in NYC.
You could be in your studio all day and all night creating masterpieces, but if no one sees them, then there's no point.
Did you always want to be an artist?
Yeah, always. When I was a little kid, I would take pottery classes and draw. By the time I was a freshman in high school, I was on my way to being an artist. In 12th grade I was in the AP class. I knew I wanted to study art.
What does success look like?
For me, success is the ability to just keep making work. I work a couple days a week at a gallery on the Upper East Side, but I'm able to support myself by making art as well. To me, that's success. It would be great to have a bunch of shows lined up, but I don't. Being in [Bushwick] is a privilege as well because there are so many artists living in this building. I have a lot of good friends. We are able to go to each other's studios and shoot around ideas. I feel pretty good about that.
Is that sharing a formal thing or an informal one?
Definitely informal. Sometimes it's just someone stopping by to say hello and they will see something that starts a conversation. Or sometimes I'll have a group of five artists over. It's still informal, but that's even more of a conversation.
How much time do you spend making art?
On my three days off, I'm in my studio all day, and I'm usually working during the evenings as well. But being an artist is basically a full-time job. If I'm not in my studio, I'm going to openings, seeing stuff, or doing research online. A really important part of being an artist is getting out there, meeting people, and seeing what's going on. That's how you create a community and how you get people to know you and your work. You could be in your studio all day and all night creating masterpieces, but if no one sees them, then there's no point.
How did you develop your style?
My newest painting are made indirectly. I'm painting on plastic, and then the paint is transferred on to the canvas. I studied printmaking as an undergrad, so this is an indirect way of mark-making. I make paper collages on the side. That's my vacation project, but it's something I really enjoy. Aspects of collage are creeping into my new work as well.