During my Street Art press trip in Flanders, i had the opportunity to meet Sam Scarpulla at the Kapow Collective in Ghent. Sam is such a creative street artist based in Ghent, and presently one of the most famous artists in Belgium. He kindly accepted to answer my questions for streetart360 readers, whilst we were visiting Kapow Collective workshop and during our walk throughout Ghent streets, on the way to discover one of his most iconic murals.
Hi Sam, great to meet you. Can you tell us where you from and from what age did you discover your love of art?
I live and work from Ghent, Belgium, but i grew up in the Italian countryside. My mother is Belgian and my father American. I studied art in Belgium, and i really like the chill vibe of Ghent, Its a really great place to have a studio. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I remember as a kid keeping my options open, maybe a pilot or a fireman, the usual classics, but even then i knew i would study art, i just had to be realistic.
It’s in my DNA, my father is a painter and i always used to run around his studio. Art is the freedom that I had as a kid, that’s something i would like to keep.
Where was your first mural? Is it still available to see today?
I used to draw anywhere,everywhere and all of the time, mainly tags. But i think my first legit mural must have been in Hamburg visiting some friends. There i met some painters who took me along with them to paint a wall, they pushed me to use spraycans . It was great, i was hooked right away. I especially liked to paint outdoors and the way we worked together on an artwork. It felt very refreshing. I think the piece is long gone just like the picture that was made.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you have a specific intention or message in your work?
I get my inspiration from the struggle we all have in life. I especially like theatrical exaggeration, elements of nature and making yourself free from what society expects you to do such as Consumerism and social aspects. I have broken free from these expectations. I guess its all very autobiographic, plus i am a romantic kind of person, i excepted this. We live in a time with social imbalance, what we take for granted most people wont. The west is sick and brainwashed and spoiled, forgetting where we’ve came from. I like to talk about freedom from consumption, though don’t misunderstand me there’s much positivity in things as well.
Do you primarly paint murals or do you paint on other canvas ?
I paint murals because i like the size, the outdoors, the chance to travel the world. Its a direct line to communicate with the crowds on the streets. But i love working in my studio as well, the solitude of painting on canvas. I am fascinated with old printing methods, especially linocut. I recently made a book called ‘Lightning Guitar’ its all done with linoleum cuts and printed with a 200 year old printing press. I like to do everything by hand, i love the old school way of working, things just take time, and that’s ok for me. People tell me i should use a computer in my artwork, but i figure if i really need it i will hire somebody to do that for me so i can just paint and draw. I never use a computer except for social media and email.
Why do you paint most of the time in Black and White ?
Working in black and white gives me an extreme form of contrast. I used to work with a 1001 different colors, but i got sick if it. I figured that adding colors makes painting easier on the eye. And i wanted to make my work more difficult, I wanted to give myself a challenge. Black and white works good on linocut. No need for extra colors. Sometimes i get asked if i will add color, and when my answers is no, the reaction can be negative. colors are beautiful i cant deny that. But for the moment i try to get the beauty out of those two colors.
Do you have future projects? Exhibitions? Art fests?
My brain is always thinking whats next. I am working on an exposition for next spring and i hope to sell a lot of works so i can continue making art and staying free ! Things have been getting better and better, giving me motivation to continue, because in all sincerity there is no other option for me than having artistic freedom. I hope to continue to travel around the world thanks to my art, enjoy life and paint huge murals in combination with studio work. My goal for 2018 is to find a manager i can trust, because its hard to keep track of everything that’s going on.
What is your personnal favorite artwork ?
I don’t have a personal favorite. That’s impossible for me, i admire people that’s all. There are so many great artist out there.
Where can we discover your murals around the world ?
I have traveled to almost all the continents to paint, but i especially like the places that are not to excessible, free from art snobbism.
Do you have a “favorite” city where you love to paint ? Is there a dream place around the world you would like to go for a mural artwork?
This winter i will be doing a residency in Athens for a couple of months. Its a great place to paint on the streets, they have a lot of problems there, but i believe that destruction makes a place very fertile for art. There is no other option than to be creative in such an environment. I cant wait to go.
You create Kapow collective in Ghent i think, can you tell us a bit more about that ?
Its an art collective made up of different disciplines, painting, dancing, music, film, and many others. A very positive movement. We all work together to broaden our horizons. Thanks to Kapow i got to make films which i would never have had the skills to do on my own.
We are located in Gent, but we try to work all over the world, meet artists and invite them to Gent, where we offer a residency space for them to work and expose their artworks, by leaving a piece of art on the streets of Gent. Its a good way to get to know new people from all around the world. The collective is not that well defined, as it may become boring to repeat the same thing over and over. You can follow us on facebook and instagram @kapowisnow
What are the future Kapow projects?
We are taking a little break from opening to the public, do some work in the space, knock down some walls to make it bigger and reopen after the winter.
Would you like to say something in particular to Streetart360 readers?
Keep following the artworld, buy original art, don’t be scared to ask questions. I hope you can see my work somewhere near you, in the meantime you can follow me and my work on @samscarpulla
Thank’s a lot Sam.
Sam Scarpulla Artwork Gallery: