Simplifying Fabulous! with Sam Simon
ABOUT I met Sam Simon at a showroom party and instantly knew he was fit for a Fab Friday feature. (When the conversation revolves around glitter, bling and Tokyo “everything is so designed…even cheeseball packages!”, you just know.) Sam is an artist and designer who “primarily creates magical hand painted murals, paintings and graphic patterns.” Although he sticks his fingers in many creative outlets, he’s most known for his work in children’s spaces and nurseries.We asked Sam how he simplifies his fabulous at work and home. His answers? Fun, inspired and fabulous…just like him!
RB: What are you working on right now?
SS: Currently in my studio there are three large scale projects going on. (I’ve had as many as 26 separate paintings going on at once.) I’m sketching wildlife for a six-piece collage of paintings for a home in Greenwich, CT. I’m also working on a 6×3 ft underwater landscape for a penthouse in Tribecca. But what is dominating my Brooklyn studio right now is an epic 15×8 ft piece on un-stretched canvas for an event I’m part of next week at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. It will be chinoiserie-inspired, yet filtered through my lens. The branches are fluid and calligraphic, sprouting almond shaped leaves in several tones of fresh green and shimmering oyster finish paint. Sitting on the branches will be a menagerie of my animal characters, all painted in my super cute style. I just LOVE animals! When the painting is complete it will be finished with a gorgeous layer of tiny swarovski crystals. Who doesn’t love a little bling bling!
RB: What project in your portfolio are you most proud of?
SS: This summer I finished a huge unicorn painting for the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the east village which turned out pretty amazing. I’ve also started making these wall sculptures and encrusting them in pave swarovski crystals. It was painstaking, over 24 hours of straight bedazzling…I made my mother Zelda do most of it. (Keeps her busy and out of trouble at the retirement community!) They are my versions of Judith Leiber bags: I love them but hate the fact that 99% of the time they probably sit in the felt drawstring bag they came in. Those gorgeous creatures should be out in the open to enjoy every day!
RB: Your known for making art for children that adults can enjoy. What do you find is the biggest challenge in making art with this type of audience.
SS: The art I create is mainly about composition, strong rendering and the highest level of craftsmanship. My goal is for the work to look just as good from across the room, as when you get right up to it. I live for the tiny details like eyelashes on rabbits. Many people notice small details within the work long after they go up. I like to think they will hang on your wall for as long as you like, but hang in your heart forever.
I would say the biggest challenge, and this is a touchy one…. In my experience most parents sexualize their children before they are even born. I fully understand the notion that most people think pink is for girls and blue is for boys. It is part of our culture. FACT: Pre-WWII, blue was for girls and pink was for boys. Check it.
The thing that really picks my peas is when a parent takes it to the extreme and will ask me questions like “are monkey’s too girlish for my son?” I just think our children would be so much better off if we let them stay children as long as they can, and not put them in these roles of , “you’re a baby boy, you must love sports!” “you’re a baby girl, you must love pink!” I just say, do what looks nice, and break the rules. Children need not be cool, or grown up, there’s time enough for that.
RB: What inspires you?
SS: I get inspiration from all around me! Artistically, I’m very influenced by illustrated books from the 1940s-70s, everything from Golden Books to work by Charley Harper and Mary Blair. I love the backgrounds from mid century Walt Disney Films like Peter Pan and Snow White. I LOVE Art Deco, Pop Art, and Rock Music, and dishes! I get some of my best ideas from dishware. Look up Ben Seibel, he was amazing!
RB: What types of things can parents do themselves to enliven their kids bedroom
SS: Well, of course the easiest thing they can do themselves to enliven their kids bedrooms would be to call me, my number is 212-358-3435. I will do the rest.
If they REALLY REALLY want to do something themselves, I would suggest COLOR! Paint is so inexpensive and easy, and makes such a jumbo, mondo difference! Paint one super graphic stripe that runs around the entire room horizontally in any color you like, or take one area like a soffet or a closet doors and paint them a bright fun color. A little color goes a long way! Find a silhouette you like, for example an elephant and paint it HUGE on one wall in a bright color or just a tone darker then the wall color for a more subtle look.
RB: How would you describe your home’s decor?
SS: I live by my motto, that good style comes from within, not a price tag. I live in a smallish space in an old ice cream factory. I keep my color palate soft and well edited with lots of beige, brown, and baby blue. My home décor is very personal. Every piece has a story. I have my father’s mid century modern desk, and pyrex mixing bowls and measuring cups from my Bubbie Minnie. I purchased this convertible coffee table from Ligne Roset which has been a life saver, it converts from a low table to a dining table big enough for eight! I have about five sets of dishes, all vintage and charming. I love to set the table!
RB: What design elements in your home have you personalized?
SS: When I moved in I ripped out the old closets, and made them much larger. Solid wood doors for these new giant closets were going to be very expensive so I designed Mondrian inspired doors which utilized smaller cuts of wood and panel, and cost much less. The look is great, and feels like a big modern piece of art! I paint the squares every so often in new colors to keep it fresh. I added a smart pattern of horizontal variegated stripes to one wall in shades of beige, cream, white, and shimmering oyster. It looks like a big wall paper print, but there is no repeat- I think its pretty glam.
RB: What do you love most about your home and why?
SS: There are a few things I really love. First, I love my art. One of my favorite pieces is a black and white drawing my niece Lucy did when she was four. The piece is very sophisticated and modern actually. It depicts all these rich thick black swirl lines on a square piece of paper. When I asked her what it was, she replied, “It’s a butterfly in the middle of a curly forest!” She pointed out a tiny butterfly she drew in the middle of all the curly lines. I wouldn’t have ever noticed it. I saw a little of myself in her, and to this day it makes me smile.
I also love about my home that it is mine and it is quiet! I started with nothing, making chalk drawings on the sidewalks of Boston. From my artwork I was able to buy a home in NYC! Amazingly enough, my apartment is stick quiet in the middle of NYC, and I have awesome water pressure. Finding those two things in one apartment in Manhattan is like finding a unicorn.
I created my life, and get to be creative almost every day. I love that my home is quiet, and filled with love, lots of snacks, edible glitter, and fun things to look at. I think people expect to walk into my home and find themselves in Pee Wee’s Playhouse. While there are fun elements to my home, I think it is actually pretty chic.
Each Friday Simplifying Fabulous! presents Fab Fridays, an up-close-and-personal look at how one of our community members simplifies fabulous in their own life. Is there someone you’d like to see featured? Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.