Welcome to The Bandwagon’s new feature for 2016 – #InspiringWomen. These posts aim to not only celebrate successful women, but also to encourage others to follow their dreams. Meet February’s lady, Sammi McEwan.
Sammi is a recent graduate, freelance artist, and incredibly talented woman. She designed the banner for this very blog, and has managed to turn her hand to many different projects. I wanted to speak to Sammi about her journey, and discover what advice she has for others.
What made you want to become an artist?
This is going to sound very cheesy, but I’ve never not wanted to be an artist. I’ve always loved drawing and as I’ve grown older I’ve been striving to make a career out of it. I really believe that you should do something with your life that will make you happy, and art is the thing that makes me happy.
What challenges have you had to overcome in order to get where you are today?
I fell into that trap after uni where I felt that I didn’t want to pursue my degree. My Animation degree was great and I had a good time but in all honestly I’m more of an illustrator/painter. I’m still working in retail to support myself while I get things off of the ground and so far the biggest challenge I’ve faced is making sure I draw or paint for a bit every day. Perseverance is a very hard lesson to learn and it’s probably the most important thing you need when it comes to getting a job in any creative industry.
What does being a woman mean to you?
I was never subjected to gender expectations growing up, so I was able to experiment and learn what being a woman meant to me in my own time. I’m still on that journey now but to me, being a woman is just being a human being. I suppose I feel that way because we’re not held to the same restrictions as the generations that came before us. I feel very lucky to be a woman in this day and age.
In what ways has your gender helped or hindered you in your industry?
I am very lucky and I feel as though my gender hasn’t really affected me so far. As I mainly get my commissions online, I let my work speak for itself. I feel that in the creative industry it is your skill that stands out, not your appearance.
Name some women who inspire you.
The main woman who has always inspired me is my Mum. She was a great role model. She worked so hard to bring me and my sister up on her own, and she never complained. When it came to art, she couldn’t paint to save her life, but she always believed in me and supported my decision to follow my artistic dreams.
What advice would you give to young women who want to go into your industry?
As far as advice goes, I will say what everyone has said to me, and that is: don’t work for free. It is very easy to get sucked into doing things for “experience” or for “your portfolio”, even for family and friends. Any reputable company will at least pay you a small sum for travel/expenses. You have a unique skill and you could spend 10, 20, 30 hours on something. If they respect you as an artist, they will be willing to pay you. Feedback is also extremely valuable. Just remember not to take things personally.
You can find more of Sammi’s amazing work on her website, or follow her on Twitter, @McSammi.