The Artifact Collective | Q&A: Photographer Sam Stoich
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Q&A: Photographer Sam Stoich

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Interview by Lourdes Sukari

How did your journey with photography begin? 

It began at a young age. I come from a family of artists, specifically some very talented and well established photographers, so having that influence encouraged me to learn how to find my own voice from behind a lens. I was making films and taking photos as early as age 10 and I have been relentless with it ever since.


What inspired you to create conceptual portraits? 

It’s a means of escape. When I’m creating that kind of work I can totally check out and just indulge in my own fantasies and dreams. It’s therapeutic. I’m also a huge admirer of surrealist painters. The whole idea of surrealism is to join together two objects that don’t have anything to do with each other (i.e. bathing in strawberry milk) and create something new and unreal. I love doing that kind of work.


You have a great range of work from nudity to vintage esque to portraits, which approach is truest to you as an artist & why?

There isn’t really one specific approach that I’d say is most representative of me. I think to get a good idea of who I truly am you have to look at the culmination of everything I do. I’m trying hard not to pigeon hole myself so I can continue to have the freedom to keep a wide range of subject matter as my career progresses.


What do you think art/photography does for you that people can’t?

Well actually it’s the connecting with people that I love the most. It takes a certain openness to allow you to be the subject of someone’s art. I’ve made some incredibly strong relationships with people through my work. I love that.  It’s also great to share my work with all sorts of people online… So I think one of the best parts about art/photography is the people.


What are some challenges you face as an independent artist? How do you work through them?

Well I’m young and totally okay with flying under the radar for a while. Maybe eventually I’ll find commercial success and be able to make a killing off of my work… But regardless of whether that happens or not, I’d still be doing what I do. It’s a blessing to be able to have this craft so I really don’t mind if I’ve “made it” or not. I’m enjoying the lack of constraints and pressures being a “successful” artist come with. There’s a certain kind of freedom I’ve found in doing it for my own pleasure.


Who are some of your favorite local & renowned artists?

My cousin Michael Garlington is a huge role model for me. I’ve watched him since I was a toddler develop into the artist he is today. I really appreciate that he has never compromised his vision for anything. He’s now doing amazing things, working with Susan Sarandon, preparing for his Art Basel exhibit in Miami… I’m very lucky to have a mentor like him.


What effect do you hope to have on viewers or patrons of your work?

I know that my work is going to resonate with everyone who views it differently, so I try not to create with the viewer in mind. All I think about when I’m taking photos are the parts of myself that I’m putting into the process and the story that I am telling. If people appreciate it, cool… If not, cool! If anything I would just love to inspire people to start creating their own work.


How do you want to be remembered?

I’ve endured some tough situations in my lifetime. I was born with a cleft lip and palate and then at 19 I was diagnosed HIV+. I don’t necessarily want to be remembered for those things, but rather how I ultimately persevered despite the roadblocks I’ve faced. I want to be remembered for creating something beautiful, something empowering from situations that were extremely painful and traumatizing… Maybe, giving hope to others who are going through similar struggles. I want to prove that that a life wrought with hardship doesn’t need to be hopeless. I want to be remembered for how I translated that pain into my work and found strength through vulnerability.