Sam Dubeau On Living Playfully

PapirmassARTISTS, INTERVIEWS

Designer Sam Dubeau knows a lot about life as a creative individual, and what it takes to achieve a work/life balance. Her passion for life is clear in her beautiful typography, where reminders of life’s simple pleasures are aesthetically announced through phrases like: Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Discussing her practice, Samantha’s enthusiasm is infectious. We hope this interview inspires you to do what you love, get out there, and create!


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Hi Sam! Who are you and what are you all about?

My passion for art began at a young age, exploring all forms of creative activities, from music lessons to playing with my grandmother’s sewing machine. In Grade 8 I was encouraged by my teacher to pursue art seriously, so I applied to Centennial Secondary School to graduate with an Arts Plus Certificate (which basically translates to taking a hefty load of art courses throughout the span of high school, in all areas). This included studies in photography, theatre, and digital editing.

Pursuing a Bachelors Degree in the York/Sheridan Design Program seemed like the next natural step. Over the years, my work has exhibited a strong connection to handmade objects and processes, but my love affair with pixels never faded. Thus began the pursuit to achieve a beautiful balance between the digital and physical.

I have been fortunate in my career to be showcased by respectable figures and media, such as Wedding Bells, Sweet Magazine, and on popular blogs like DesignWorkLife, Creature Comforts, Apartment Therapy, and Swiss Miss.
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Tell us about what draws you to typography and lettering? 

Throughout my university studies, I learned to understand and respect type as an important graphic element that is integral to a successful piece. It wasn’t until years after graduation though, working as a freelancer when I began to explore other handheld type tools like calligraphy nibs and brush pens, where a new spark was introduced to my work. I spent hours developing varying styles of letters and infusing personality into written words. The best part about working with typography is finding interesting ways to manipulate or enhance the message. It’s not always as vague as painting or illustration because words are often interpreted to be very literal, but type artists have the power to play with letterforms, creating unique characters and evoking emotion through expressive treatment, presenting a contrast to mundane text formats we often take for granted in our everyday life.
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What kind of music are you listening to while you work? 

My ideal work day always includes a hearty playlist. The work I do is generally motivated by something upbeat, cheerful, or powerful. I find it really enhances the work, whether it’s in the initial brain-storming stages or during execution.
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Briefly walk us through your process of making a typographic piece… Is there any playtime in there? When does it switch between work and play?  

I know many people who may consider work and play separate activities, and balance their life in this fashion. There is nothing wrong with this separation, and it can be a very functional and healthy way to live. As a creative though, there has always been a drive to enjoy both the process and the outcome of a project. So you can see how both of these creative acts, to work and play, become merged throughout the process.

There may be restrictions or challenges that hinder the process and the degree to which I enjoy it, as there may be with any business project, but the act of creation is rooted in passion and amusement. So work and play never veer far from one another. And my goal is to keep them as close as possible, and often that is a matter of being selective with projects and clients, to make sure it is fulfilling on both ends.

Especially when it comes to personal projects (those driven without client influence), I like to spend a great deal of time experimenting. Since the act of playing is generally seen as a form of amusement without serious consequences, there is a lot of room to stretch creatively, to see what is possible when introducing new forms, materials, tools. I find my best work surfaces during these times where I am playfully experimenting. I’ll often pull developed methods from these periods and introduce them to major projects with fruitful outcomes.
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What does a good day off look like? How do you like to play? How do you balance time off, with time on? 

A day off certainly includes major down-time, because as much as my work is enjoyable, I couldn’t do it as well without some time away from my desk. This often includes going for walks through the trail behind our home, getting some fresh air and possibly an outing to a favourite food joint the the neighbourhood. When I’m not outside venturing around the city, I’m inside with my husband-to-be and pug, Roxy, curled up on the couch watching movies and shows that we love. That quality time is a must. Without it, my work would feel much more laboured and intensive. I am far more motivated to work after those periods of rest and relaxation.

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You’re about to get married. Congratulations, that’s so great! Where have you found space to play in planning your wedding? 

Planning and designing my own wedding has been a project in itself, but as usual, I have tried to enjoy the process as much as possible, while still recognizing the real hard deadlines and juggling the tasks amongst my other work. Certainly now that it is so close, I can say it has been one of the most challenging projects so far in my career, but also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding. The best parts were those moments spending down-time with loved ones and my fiancé to laugh, smile, and share excitement about the day to come. It has just proven once again that balance is so important to the process.
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We love how positive and joyful your typography pieces are and how they suggest the important of balance and playfulness in our day-to-day lives. Have you any parting life advice about bringing joy and play into our lives?

The joy conveyed in my work is meant to remind myself and others that finding joy is important, big or small, in each and every day. It can be difficult at times, as life certainly presents us with challenges and circumstances we cannot control. But we can control our attitude towards it. More than ever, I am learning to be both grateful and self-aware, and as I work, I strive to share these messages of positivity and thoughtfulness so that others may benefit from them too. Simple little reminders are sometimes all it takes to get us through one day. So whether they see it in my art, or find it elsewhere and make it their personal mantra, I’m glad that these messages are being shared to help lift one another.

 

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Sam Dubeau is our October 2015 artist. See more at samdubeau.com