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Student Cover Contest winner Sam Parker

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Are you from Atlanta?

I grew up in Minneapolis, Minn. I've been here since 1995.

And what school do you go to?

I go to Georgia State University, in the master's [degree] drawing and painting program.

I heard that you were doing some shows here.

Yeah, I show a lot. I had a show in July at Beep Beep Gallery called Neotony. And I had a show the month before at the Art Department at Studioplex. That show was called Chimera. And I show sometimes as much as four times a month in different group shows. The Neotony show, which is where this piece is from, that was at Beep Beep Gallery. That was a solo show.

How would you describe your artistic style? Who are some of your influences?

It's all over the place. I like underground comic books. I like Robert Crumb and I also like people like Gordon Matta-Clark and Laurie Anderson and Max Ernst. It would be really difficult for me to say like, who is my favorite artist. There's too many of them.

Do you come from a very artistic family?

Yeah, my father's a photographer and a writer. And my mom does origami mobiles, and other crafty-type stuff. So I was always encouraged, you know, when I said I wanted to go to art school, it wasn't, "Oh, God, he's gonna go to art school and do that." It was like, "OK, yeah."

So what age did you start really getting serious about art?

I mean, I've drawn obsessively since I was little kid, but I'd say I really got serious about it as thinking about it as a career or as the thing that would kind of define my life, probably around the age of 14.

Do you find that your style is kind of different than some of your peers?

Yeah, in any master's program, each student is going to be searching for their voice and their audience and figuring out the best way to communicate what it is that they communicate. So everybody's really different. There are gonna be a few trends as far as collaborating with people or being inspired by your peers ... several students work with a particular professor [and there are] certain stylistic or conceptual things that come out in that group of students' work. But everybody's stuff is really different.

What do you love most about art?

I think mostly, for me, it's a way of communicating with the rest of the world. You know, growing up I was real shy or just very socially awkward. So art is really the thing that's helped me come out of my shell. And still, to this day, it's probably my most articulate way of communicating with an audience or with a group of people.

Are you going to stick with doing the galleries and the shows? Where do you see yourself with art in 10 years or so?

I think I'll be showing nationally, internationally. I'd like to travel around the world and show art and sell some art. And just do projects. You know, more than selling art, I'm interested in being involved in interesting things that are going on around the world. Getting outside of Atlanta is my goal for 2010 and just start branching out a little bit more after my thesis show. Stuff like that, and I teach and I tattoo professionally.

What is your inspiration for this piece? Because especially for college, a lot of the pieces that we get are kind of cartoonish and that's usually the inspiration that people take when they think about college and designing pieces for college. This piece is a little bit more intense or engaging or serious.

This is one drawing out of a series of drawings that ... it would be hard for me to put my finger on one specific idea that I was thinking of. I think throughout my grad program, I've been trying to develop a personal language, and so a lot of this I'm borrowing from electronic diagrams and diagrams of chemistry and biological diagrams of cellular structures. But then, also, there's these figures that reoccur throughout the body of work that, um ... I'm not exactly sure what to say about them. I mean, they just kind of started appearing and some of them in other drawings, not in the cover, riding animals and in my mind, I was thinking about agency and environment and things like that. It's kind of ... it'd be hard for me to pinpoint exactly my thought process. It kind of goes this way and that way. And I think that shows in the drawings that it goes this way and it goes that way. It's not one set thing from the beginning that plays itself out all the way through all of the drawings. Even though themes continue to reoccur through all of the drawings, there's about maybe 25 drawings in the series so far.

So it doesn't relate to your college experience at all? What was your [undergrad] college experience like?

Well, I started out at Minneapolis College of Art and Design, which was very, very conceptual. And I was just kind of lost, and I finished at Kennesaw State University, where it was much more technique-oriented. Or at the least, the professors I was working with very closely were technique-oriented with classicism and drawing from life. So [the cover] definitely has elements of that. I mean, there's figures in it and I rely on my ability to draw. I mean, that's my strongest quality, that I'm a very super-confident illustrator, so I always rely on that ability, but you know, I'm trying to branch out in different ways. Conceptually, I don't think these pieces rely on the concept, but I'm trying to infuse them with more concept than some of the work that I've done in the past.

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