<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Southampton illustrator Sam Hiscock

PUBLISHED: 12:02 02 August 2017

Artist Sam Hiscock at work

Artist Sam Hiscock at work


Home is where the heart is for illustrator Sam Hiscock and that means Southampton. It has allowed him to learn and grow as an artist and have his work exhibited all over the world, as he tells Sandra Smith

Minutes into this month’s interview I encounter the sort of psychological paraphernalia which stokes my fascination for dissecting behaviour and analysing motive. Obsession, OCD, hoarding – what a dream trio, a troika of actions and attitudes. Oh, how readily distraction beckons. Yet I stick to my remit, soon appreciating that, intrigue for the onlooker aside, such fixations are responsible for wider repercussions which shape the everyday life, and lie at the heart of Sam Hiscock’s work and career.

“I’m obsessed with drawing,” the 23 year old says. “I am inspired by most things. I’ve lived in the same house since I was born; my family would entirely agree with me that we are hoarders. I grew up being tidy and was always interested in why you would have things without a reason. I became obsessed with the idea of objects, and collections, owning an object many times when you don’t usually need more than one.”

Sam’s openness is endearing. He is articulate, a stranger to prevarication and animatedly discusses illustration. His artistic journey, however, wasn’t as straightforward.

“At a parents’ evening when I was young a teacher told them, ‘One thing’s for sure, Sam isn’t going to be an artist.’ I didn’t give this much notice but I was never very good at sport like most boys; I used to watch cartoons and read books, seeing things visually as well as enjoying the stories. I’m inspired by Quentin Blake and love children’s books. I’m definitely a child at heart.”

After studying Fine Art, Graphics and Photography at A Level, university held little appeal, partly because of a reluctance to move away from Southampton. He chose, instead, a Foundation year at Eastleigh College - a ‘brilliant” experience’ - before embarking upon an Illustration degree at Solent University. Despite oozing praise for the lecturers, he was half way through this course before feeling settled.

“The course suited me and I could still live at home but I struggled at first. I wasn’t convinced it was where I wanted to be; everyone seemed a lot more enthusiastic than me. I talked to my lecturers who said, go if it’s not for you. I stayed and in the second half of the second year I found it was what I wanted to do and became excited by the idea that, as an illustrator, you often work for yourself so you’re in charge. That appealed to me. I developed relationships with my lecturers and asked the right questions, become more involved. Then in the final year I started talking to agencies and galleries.”

This proactive approach soon bore fruit. The day after submitting an application to The Bright Agency, Sam received a phone call inviting him to meet them. One week and an interview later he was on the company’s books. An exhibition in London followed then an international residency at Solent which resulted in a travelling exhibition (taking in France, Holland and China) in which his autobiographical images are shown alongside work by artists of genres as diverse as architecture, fashion and sculpture.

Examples of his varied creations Examples of his varied creations

Meanwhile competition success resulted in Sam, sponsored by Solent, painting a zebra as part of Marwell Zoo’s Zany Zebras conservation project which raised money and awareness for the conservation of an endangered species.

“There were 100 fake zebras and a number of spaces where they were painted, five or six artists at a time in this crazy, weird room full of fibreglass animals. I was next to someone doing a mosaic. My design came to me in a few minutes. I did some research on the Grevy’s zebras which are predominantly found in Kenya and went with the idea of lots of tribal masks. I used collage and mixed media. I don’t often use paints but the zebra had to be painted with something like a boat varnish in order to withstand the elements. The animals, sponsored by different companies, were dotted around Southampton. This was a great thing for me to be part of.”

When the zebras were eventually auctioned Sam’s, which is now located in The Spark at Solent University, raised £1,200 with a smaller, exact copy, fetching over £500. He smiles at memories of the sale. “I wanted to keep the small one. My mum bid until the price went above £50 when she stopped!”

A fondness for animals infiltrates many of Sam’s illustrations. He recalls attending country fairs with his grandad, retains an interest in nature, owns a pet tortoise and watches wildlife programmes. But he can’t be pigeon holed. While feeling compelled to draw a couple of “ugly” ceramic cats, a row of pencils is just as likely to be captured on paper as old suitcases or spoons. For drawing is a vital way of communicating, recording periods of this artist’s life. And others’ too.

“When an uncle passed away he had 97 years’ worth of stuff, different collections, a lot of which we inherited and I drew.”

Common denominators resurface throughout our discussion. The Bright Agency, Sam enthuses, is not only supportive and nurtures talent, a dog in their office on the day of his interview confirmed to him that they must be nice people. He appreciates this relationship so early on in his career, an opportunity not open to every young illustrator.

Similarly, he takes every opportunity to praise his home city’s Solent University. “My course was fantastic. I got on really well with the Head of Illustration, Jonny Hannah. The course encouraged professional practice, networking, learning to make your own money, the need for business cards and a website. Understanding both the artistic and business sides is important. At the moment I run Solent’s retail store, a great project and brilliant job. I think a lot of it. Illustrators can make and sell things in the store. It’s interesting to explain to students about commission and mark ups. Not all creatives in other universities have that.”

Sam captures everything from clocks to artists' tools Sam captures everything from clocks to artists' tools

This positive outlook is an aspect his tutor, Jonny Hannah, recalls. “Sam was a very motivated student, and a great storyteller in his work, partly to do with his interesting job on the side, selling junk and objets d’art, and partly to do with his equally interesting family who seem to buy the objets d’art, making a great setting for Sam’s fun and cheeky narratives. But we soon realised that due to Sam being out there in the workplace on market stalls for years, he had an eye for organisation and business too. So not only was he talented in a visual sense, but equally talented in galvanising his fellow students into doing their London exhibition and making it a great success.”

Given his wide ranging interests, which embrace photography and the humour of children’s books, I wonder whether Sam regards himself as an artist or illustrator. After some thought, he declares, “That’s a good question. I always say illustrator. The only difference is the type of person but you can create the same outcome.”

Sam Hiscock may be single minded about drawing but he’s also someone who sees far more in everyday objects, whether functional or decorative, than most of us. Obsessive? Perhaps. Yet such compulsion is the inspiration behind a captivating body of work.



Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

With her reactive, molecular artwork, Southampton artist Nancy Wood manages to capture a moment in time

Read more
Friday, March 2, 2018

Rural communities throughout the UK could be eligible to receive funding via the Calor Rural Community Fund from energy provider Calor

Read more
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stand-up comic and TV star Ed Byrne thinks our lives have become somewhat spoilt. Honestly, who needs keyless cars and semi-skimmed milk? Viv Micklefield hears more ahead of a return visit to Hampshire

Read more
Friday, February 16, 2018

Let’s drink to Alresford, home to brewers, gin distilleries, and winemakers…

Read more
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Can you identify your clam from your cockle? Natalie French speaks with author of the River Cottage Edible Seashore Handbook, John Wright, to learn more about the art of seashore foraging and what delights we can find on our shoreline

Read more
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Braving the winter weather, wildlife writer Tiffany Francis ventures in to the New Forest to discover more about the work of the community rangers

Read more
Monday, January 15, 2018

Every day life at Highclere Castle isn’t all lights, camera, action. Viv Micklefield meets the real Downton mistress and asks, what keeps her grounded?

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Some of Hampshire’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about the county. Here, we compile some quotes from our interviews over the years

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Still not bought those Christmas cards yet? Then look no further. Daphne Vaughan’s vivid seasonal watercolours of Winchester are just the ticket and proceeds go to charity too

Read more
Monday, December 11, 2017

As much a part of Christmas as presents under the tree, mince pies, turkey and sprouts, Emma Caulton asks what makes the traditional panto so special

Read more
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We announce our 2017 winner of 2017 Hampshire Food Hero at the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards

Read more
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When the Hon Ralph Montagu inherited the country’s most famous family estate and motor museum two years ago, he already felt right at home. Viv Micklefield meets the man destined to be the driving force behind Beaulieu’s future

Read more
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Writer Kathy Lette promises full frontal frankness in her show Girls Night Out, as Faith Eckersall explains

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Once a familiar face on local news bulletins, former journalist Caroline Hall now stands in front of a canvas instead of a camera. Sandra Smith met the woman who has sweeping ambitions for her art

Read more
A+ South & South West
Great British Holidays advert link
Pure Weddings advert link
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search