Meet Sam Little…
Photos by Greg Moyano
Growing up on the coast in Devon I have always been immersed in surf culture so naturally it has made a huge impact on my life. I grew up within a family of surfers including three brothers that were surf mad, and a dad -Steve Daniel who has always been a pioneer of the British surf community (British Champion and 40 years in the surf business). From a young age I was always sporty and loved drawing and painting so I suppose it was pretty fated that I combine my passions and create my future.
My parents have always been super supportive of my art and pushed me to continue my artistic education, so I went to London to study for my BA Hons in Fashion Design. After gaining my degree I left to surf, travel and design in Australia, California, Hawaii and Canada. I came home and worked in the British surf industry for a few years and freelanced with Xcel Wetsuits for a time but eventually moved back to London- this time with adidas, this lead to still one of my biggest career achievements, working on the London 2012 Olympics. I designed Team GB graphics and accessories. I then moved stateside with the brand for another 5 years residing in Portland Oregon, Adidas became like my family; the people I worked with and the projects I worked on were out of this world. My last role there being Design Director for Sport Performance graphics, I then realised anything is possible and hard work really does pay off. I really can’t thank adidas enough for all the opportunity, growth and support they gave me.
I surfed and snowboarded in Oregon but this was limited to weekends as it was 1.5 hours either direction to either the mountain or the coast, My jeep became my beach house and I spent many a weekend sleeping that thing. I also managed a few trips south to California and Mexico… But after 5 years in America living closer to the ocean home were calling. One year ago I decided to move back to this side of the globe, I wanted to be near my family and the surf again, I now work for a major surf wear brand in the southwest of France. It has given me the freedom to surf 3 times a day in summer including in my lunch breaks and make some really close girlfriends who surf too, one girl in particular Charlotte Williams (a fellow brit) is always up to charge the bigger surf and pushes me to go in even when I’m super nervous, together we have had some of the best sessions of my life. I mainly shortboard but have the few days where I still love to take my log out, I don’t know any other sport that can make you smile as much as longboarding; for some reason every time I go out here I have a permanent grin on my face.
Is it nice to be a little closer to your home?
Yes its awesome, my family has been here to visit me a few times this year which is great as it was a lot more difficult for them when I was in the US. This summer I had some epic surf sessions in Les Landes with just me and my dad out which was priceless.
Has the move allowed you to focus more time on your artwork?
Not really more time; but I’ve found my focus, I was always doing my artwork but previously I was doing so many different things- I was really into seascapes and skateboard deck designs but I think this year I found my my niche and something I really want to continue and expand upon. The characters are just super fun to work on, and I love adding the humorous element to the animals it just makes everything a little less serious. I’ve also had some great support from my friends at Shaper House in Biarritz who have have my art up in store. My boyfriend Beau is also super supportive of my art and he’s encouraged me to just go for it, he always has so many projects in the works and I’ve realised you really just need to make the leap and dive straight in, as no one is gonna do it for you. Hard work has definitely paid off within my design career so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t put as much effort into my personal pursuits. I think so many people hold back from their dreams through fear of failure, sometimes you just have accept thats part of the process and jump right in.
Where do you draw inspiration for your art?
Actually in the line up, it sometimes literarily cracks me up listening to what comes out of surfers mouths, it’s still very much a male dominated sport and the macho bravado definitely comes out when you are in the ocean. I also a big fan of the WSL Tour and the commentators come out with some really funny stuff, I love it. The whole black and white theme came about when my brother Stefan asked for a drawing of his favourite surf break, he was pretty specific about it being black and white and I just really enjoyed pulling the highlights out of the negative space, almost the opposite way to most drawing.
Has art always been in your life?
I suppose I have always been an artist even from a young age; I was drawing and painting and I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a child I think they really encouraged me to draw… it’s quite funny that looking back it was probably just a ploy to to keep me occupied and out of their hair but it ended up making me a career and a passion; and although no longer here, I think they would be proud of me. Having a career that stems from a passion is a blessing and I can’t be thankful enough for everyone that encouraged me along the way especially my mother Amanda who is always my biggest supporter and rock.
Where can people view/purchase your artwork?
My art can be seen at my instagram: artbysammylittle
and I now have an online store artbysammylittle.bigcartel.com
I also have lots of work up and available to buy at Shaper House in Biarritz