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Starving Artist Interview #1: Sean Samoheyl
November 17, 2009, 1:37 am
Filed under: art, interview | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sean Samoheyl is an AWESOME puppeteer and multimedia artist who lives and works in Twin Oaks, a worker-owned farm community in Louisa County, Virginia. Our friend Leeyanne Moore asked him a number of questions about what the term ‘starving artist’ means to him, as a below-poverty-level (and somewhat outsider) artist. This is the first in a series of Starving Artists Interviews to be posted in the coming weeks.

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Sean Samoheyl, makin' art

1) When you use the term “starving artist” in relation to yourself, how literal are we talking in terms of actual starving? What would you count as part of the territory that comes with being a “starving artist” and what would you disallow?

I’ve gone hungry for art although usually forgetting to eat out of stress or whatever. But I’ve opted for sure for some crap burrito with nothing on it to save or just getting, say, soup and then bringing my own bread. Recently for a long train ride to an opening in Cleveland, I brought 4 sandwiches and homemade granola and 3 apples. The sandwiches got sort of old and were cheese and pb n j. All homemade bread and jam with our own fruit. But I was determined not to spend any money when I know it’s a gouge.

I can be frugal but then have very little sense when it comes to things like antiques and junk I don’t need. I’ve been poorer when I wasn’t making any art at all, I was just broke. I do try to disallow too many sweets. In Europe I tried to get by on sweets and once in Chicago, I tried to live on sugary cereal for like a week, and I would get sick every time. So it’s better to just fast and drink water, I think, than to try to eat sugar or a ton of cheese curls or, worse, trail mix or clif bars.

2) What would you say is your general level of starving as a starving artist? By that, I mean, when you look around you, or think about starving artists in history, how would you place yourself in a kind of spectrum?

I would call myself frugal or living voluntarily below the poverty line. And trying desperately to hide it. I hate how some hippies wear their poorness like a badge and just wear some outfit that looks so soiled a horse would avoid it and insist on going barefoot for some reason. But yeah, I’ve made items that a boutique might sell for $$ so I could have that “cool” edge “look” and just mend my own dang jeans and slap a cashmere sweater on top (donation) and eat at home before the opening to cover my embarrassing lumberjack appetite.

I’m way self conscious about being perceived as really poor which sort of comes from my upbringing which in some ways might have meant we were really poor which is funny. We never had ripped clothes. Which is funny to see rich people wearing dirty Diesel brand jeans.

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