Samara Shuter’s hand should hurt. Signing your name 100 times would cause the average hand to cramp, but not hers. The Toronto-based artist’s hand has been making its mark on the art world with her unique brand of menswear-inspired paintings. Now she’s signing 100 prints of her latest work, a piece that features a tie that she designed together with Black Lapel and New York-based menswear accessories brand, Everett. One hundred stylish art lovers will be able to add both tie and print to their collections in a limited edition set. For fans of Shuter’s work (if you aren’t a fan yet, check out her work at www.samarashuter.com and you WILL become one), this is a chance to step into one of her paintings.
One such fan, Black Lapel co-founder Derek Tian, got this collaboration started when he first discovered Shuter’s work and began a conversation with her. “I saw Sam’s work on Art & Hustle,” says Tian. “There was one in particular with a man in braces with his sleeves rolled up with a mass of tattoos over his arm. I spent about 15 minutes looking at that one on my laptop screen. I was so enamored with it I reached out to Sam and asked where I could find more of her work.”
The conversation eventually grew into a partnership as Tian and Shuter discovered a mutual interest in each other’s work. “It’s easy to see how readers of The Compass and the men who get custom clothes from Black Lapel would be attracted to Sam’s work, so we decided to bring the two together with a co-designed tie. That’s when I reached out to our friends over at Everett.”
“Art and artists are constantly pushing boundaries, and we strive to do the same,” says Everett co-founder James Brooks. Everett’s line of non-traditional fabric accessories, which includes ties, are already heavily influenced by art. “Fashion is a form of art and the medium is our fabrics,” says Brooks. “Our line has three main overlying themes and each one has a different source of influence. Our influences range from French-inspired damask patterns to the bold colors and designs of contemporary art.”
Still, this was the first time Brooks and the Everett team worked directly with a fine artist to design something. “I knew, when we went to Mood Fabrics in Garment District, that Sam would have a great eye for fabric hunting.” The process took some trial and error as Brooks worked with Shuter and Tian to get the product just right. “We opted for one of our damask prints for the front of the tie and went back and forth for almost a month to find the right tail” says Brooks who fell in love with the final product. “At the end of the day we had put together a very eye-catching tie.”
When it comes to wearing the tie, if you are one of the lucky few who is able to grab one of these limited edition sets, we’ve got some advice for you. “Tuck the assertively colored tail into the loop or keep it out to let it swing freely and grab some attention,” says Brooks. “It’s definitely a statement piece,” says Tian. “It’s not the kind of tie you wear once a week. That’s sort of the fun of it. You’re not just wearing an everyday tie. You’re wearing a work of art…and oh yeah,” he adds, “it looks fucking beautiful.”
Three Questions for the Artist:
Black Lapel: You have a very strong color palette in both the foreground “figure” and the background, where do you draw inspiration for your choice of colors?
Samara Shuter: Finding the right color-balance in a piece is an important part of the process for me. Much of my inspiration comes from a combination of colors that will inspire an idea. When I come across a textile, a color swatch, a certain outfit or image…a lightbulb goes off and I can visualize my next piece. There are times when I will begin with the drawing in mind first, and then I will work on the canvas until the color energy feels right. I know a piece isn’t finished if it feels too bright, or too dark, or I’m not embracing the work as a whole.
BL: Is there a correlation between the outfits and the geometric background in your work? How do you marry these juxtaposing styles?
SS: You know, this isn’t something I’ve ever been asked before, and I almost wish I hadn’t become aware of it. There has never been a conscious correlation, no. Looking over some of my work, I recognize that I am expressing a certain mood in each piece that may, in fact, have something to do with the outfit/garment drawn-and I seem to have found ways to express that energy and share that message in the form of shapes as well. It’s as if I am sharing their personality and/or intentions geometrically. I’m experiencing a bit of a lightbulb moment here. It’s funny how we express ourselves. I think you just helped me with my “artist statement” (laughs). I always wondered what attracted someone to one piece vs. another…and I couldn’t find similarities on the surface. I can’t, at this time, say for sure what it is in me that clicks and decides “this will be how this comes together,” but I will work on it. Knowing is growing! And then it makes you feel small all over again.
BL: Men’s style (and not just suits) obviously plays a very big role in your paintings, is there a specific avenue you go through when choosing what styles to include in your paintings?
SS: I’m very into textiles. Though, I am not as into fashion as I am into art. I only know what’s “hot” in the menswear community from some of my followers and the events I attend in conjunction with my work. I won’t paint a certain “look” because it is what’s being advertised this season. I don’t pay much attention to that, but I can admit that the seasons themselves do affect the flavor of my work. I was shacked up in Florida one summer and I realized all of my art was sort of bright and fresh with the use of neons and pastels. And now, being back in the city, Toronto, over the holidays, I have some new pieces in mind that are much bolder with warmer tones. In regards to the suits specifically, the choice of garment is very dependent on my mood and often the colors I have in mind for the piece. You might notice that they are often inaccurately proportioned, like a Barbie…and I tend to add buttons or put a pocket in places they might not belong (or have legitimate function) in real life. So fun!