London based impressionist artist, Sam Shaker attains his inspiration in the subject matter he paints which includes superstars from the worlds of politics, music, film and royalty. Many of his art patrons are the people that he paints including Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty and many more. After training at the Leonardo Da Vinci Academy of Art and working as a street painter in the Montamartre Paris, Shaker took a twenty year sabbatical until a fateful conversation he had with Kate Moss inspired him to return to his first love of art.
Haya Zoubi: When did you first realize that you were an artist?
Sam Shaker: When I was 12 years old I used to help my uncle to do his art in this way I learned & developed a love of art. During the school break I used to do some paintings of still life and landscapes to sell to furniture showrooms to help to survive in Egypt.
HZ: Can you tell us more about your paintings?
SS: My paintings are done with oil on canvas mostly portraits of celebrities.
HZ: You use contemporary celebrities as your subject alot, can you tell us why?
SS: After a conversation with Kate Moss in May 2006 when she visited Jazz after Dark in Soho with Pete Doherty she was impressed with my work, she encouraged me to continue painting and commisioned me to do her portrait, she said word of mouth is the best form of advertising. By this I was inspired to paint contemporary celebrities. I also feel I can relate to these people.
HZ: What artists have influenced you and why?
SS: My greatest influence is Renoir, his ability to capture the human being never failed to amaze me.
HZ: How do you handle the business side of being an artist?
SS: I’m semi retired so I have time on my hands I must admit I get lots of help from my partner.
HZ: Do you have any funny Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse stories?
SS: Yes indeed Pete used to play here every Thursday with the Libertines about 5 years ago, Pete was very noisy so our neighbor (Danny La Rou & his boyfriend) always called the police and the noise patrol and the more Pete would see the authorities the more noise he created. It became a weekly routine every Thursday. In May this year Amy was here with Mark Ronson rehearsing for the Brit awards when she went to the ladies, a French girl decided to follow her to get her autograph – to her amazement Amy was pucking in the toilet with the door open & her knickers around her ankles needless to say it was bad timing for autographs. The funniest and coolest story of all was when Pete and Amy turned up at Jazz after Dark at 4am calling out: “Sam open the door!” followed by around 50 paparazzi flashing their cameras. We had closed at 2am I was very disappointed to have missed them.
HZ: What advice would you give to an artist who is just starting out?
SS: Be patient it takes a lot of effort & energy to succeed in this business, if I never met Kate Moss I wouldn’t be painting now as I didn’t think it was worth while and before that there was no recognition of my work.
HZ: Your favorite color and your favorite flower:
SS: Red – Rose
HZ: What characters in history do you most admire?
SS: Leonardo Da Vinchi
HZ: What’s your motto:
SS: My motto at the moment is to paint Britney Spears in the nude ha ha!