around the world with sam farrar: love letters & samaps

Bassist for Phantom Planet and Maroon 5 multi-instrumentalist, Sam Farrar has been making art and playing music all his life. His mother and father, both musicians, made the move from Australia to Los Angeles in the mid 1970s where Farrar grew up surrounded by music, creativity, and people with big ideas.

“Obviously LA is just full of people who are big dreamers and creative and I think to be in a band like I was in the early ‘90s in Los Angeles was pretty amazing. I wouldn’t necessarily say that LA affected my art style, I think that was a little more personal but being a creative person here is pretty great,” Farrar said from his Los Angeles home.

While music didn’t necessarily take over until Farrar was 11 or 12, he had always been interested in art-making and took art classes with friends growing up. He was always drawing and sketching, and remembers keeping a journal full of doodles and ideas would be a mainstay through his high school years. 

photo provided by the artist

photo provided by the artist

“My earliest influence as an artist… Doctor Seuss probably. Funny right? M.C. Escher was my hero for a long time but Shel Silverstein and Doctor Seuss are probably the earliest I can remember thinking ‘I really like this weird, playful style’.” When I got into M.C. Escher, that's when the surrealist, angular, black and white look took over for me." Farrar said.

As his focus shifted primarily to music over the years, Farrar kept sketching and while on tour with Maroon 5 in the late 2010’s the idea for SAMAPS was born. Backstage before a show in Nice, France he grabbed a map of the city and started sketching over it, letting the intersecting lines and shapes become something completely different. That map led to more maps, and soon he was finding something new in the cartography of every city he toured. 

“My approach is to look at the maps the way you look at clouds and see images so I would use the street lines and contours to see something. Sometimes weird characters, sometimes buildings, sometimes animals and abstracts. It developed organically backstage and someone said it looked cool so I did it again and posted a photo and that started a whole tour of finding a map and drawing on it.” Farrar said.

map of bucharest, romania embellished with paint and ink by sam farrar

"Bucharest was maybe the third or fourth one I did, and that’s when it got really interesting and I started adding more detail and having more fun with it. These were all done during the first (Maroon 5) European tour in 2017 and then in 2018 we did a US tour and I did one for every city for two months. It was exhausting but it was really fun and I still do it to this day," Farrar said.

Being a frequently touring musician means Farrar’s creative environment doesn’t look exactly like that of a typical studio artist. When he’s at home with his wife Stephanie, his kids Vesper and Fynn, and their two golden retrievers he works where the light is best. At the time of our interview that just happened to be in his wife’s office but frequently it’s the back of a tour bus, backstage with the band, the entryway of an arena, or mid-flight headed to the next show. 

“For the first run I would just go sit in the back of the bus and draw every single day, it was crazy that I actually pulled it off. I would get a map and stare at it for like, 20 minutes or 3 hours or sometimes overnight. I was looking at the maps and seeing faces, shapes, buildings…sometimes based on where I was, like in Amsterdam I saw the shape of the streets looked like an ear which was appropriate because the Van Gogh Museum is there,"  he added.

While Farrar said he doesn’t like to have rules with art, he’s made sure that almost all the maps he’s worked on have come from the city he was in at the time. Sometimes it would take anywhere from 2-3 hours, sometimes two days but he always tried to finish the piece by the time he left the city they were playing in. 

“Completion is an interesting word… I think about this a lot and I’ve messed up works because I should have stopped and I didn’t. I think that’s the hardest part about being an artist is knowing when to stop. I’m still figuring that one out.”

As a multidisciplinary artist with a family and a full schedule, stopping isn’t often an option for Farrar. Music has been his dominating force, and he’s spent a lifetime working with other people and musicians writing, producing, and touring. Art-making in a different way has been an opportunity to enjoy working on something entirely for himself. 

Copenhagen by Sam Farrar

When it came to following a specific artistic concentration, Farrar was inspired by maps as a fading practice. With navigation to anywhere in the world accessible in an instant through our phones and other devices, why would anyone bother with a map? 

“There are a few artists out there who do really cool map work and I think we all do it for the same reason which is they’re not going to be around for much longer, so why not put some weird personality in them? Maybe I’m trying to immortalize them.”

Love Letters - Set of Four Prints by Sam Farrar

In addition to his map work, Farrar also released prints of cards he originally made for his wife, Stephanie. Each of the four in the series revisit themes present in Sam’s other works, drawing inspiration from those early artistic influences like Silverstein and Seuss. Simple houses, structures with single windows, large trees with swings hanging from their branches.

“You only have control over what you create so you have to do your thing, make your thing, and then set it free and see what happens. You don’t have any control after that so there’s no point in worrying about who's gonna like it or who’s not gonna like it. Make yourself happy. Make something you’re gonna like or think is pretty or cool or interesting, and then let it go and see what happens." 

Currently on tour with Maroon 5, you can keep up with Sam Farrar via his instagram page, his website, or his Youtube channel. Stay caught up with new releases from this multitalented moonlighter by becoming a moonlight insider and enjoy perks like exclusive access to shop last-chance items, first dibs on early access limited editions, concierge services, and more.  

Shop Prints & Original Artwork by Sam Farrar

follow sam and find out the latest:

Instagram: @samfarrar
Youtube: @meandthemcp

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