Author: Sam Spicer

I'm a Cambridge based illustrator and I like cats, fantasy novels and Star Trek.

The Phoenix

The phoenix is a symbol of rebirth, of new energy rising from the ashes of the old.

This piece was joint winner of Pop My Mind’s February Invention Award. Thank you Pop!

You can find the other winner here [autoplay warning]

Created as a response on Pop My Mind to Rebecca Freeman’s piece New Life, which itself was based on the prompt of ‘New Beginnings’. I wanted to explore the idea of a new start coming out of the old, and drew on elements from Rebecca’s work to inspire me, particularly her bold and lively colours (something I don’t use often in my ink works), and her imagery of the bird emerging from the egg. This was a really fun piece to work on, and a large one too – the original artwork is A2 sized! I know, I know, that’s not that big, but it’s big for me, when I usually work A3 at the largest and like making little tiny ink drawings in my sketchbooks.

I think, out of all the pieces I’ve made for PMM, this one I feel like I drew on the piece I was inspired by the most, while still changing and taking my own route with it. It also makes me want to try out some more fantasy creatures in this style, see how they turn out. I’ll add that to my neverending art to-do list, and get to it sometime in the next decade.


Storm Witch

Let me just preface this with the fact that I didn’t intentionally follow up my first painting of a fiery demon with a water-themed witch. The elemental theme was entirely accidental but I’m gonna roll with it.

Once again I set out to challenge myself and learn new things with this one, and once again I succeeded and fought my way to finishing this. Painting water is hard, you guys. Like, really hard. Even more so when you’re using multiple unnatural light sources. *makes mental note to acquire coloured lights for reference-photo purposes*.

I’m happy with how much I learned from doing this, though, and the next time I have to paint water I’ll be a little more prepared. This one is closer to the way I want my paintings to go – this kind of semi-realism, painterly-but-not-overly-so kind of thing. Not 100% where I want to be yet, but that’s half the fun of making these.

You can get notebooks, stickers, prints etc HERE and HERE

Out In The Void

While I was making We Can’t Be Alone Out Here, I was playing around with a bunch of ‘eyes in the void of space’ concepts, and I liked this one enough to clean it up into a finished piece! The horrors of deep space are neverending, and always inspiring.

Roll For Romance

I love D&D. Like, a lot. Really it was only a matter of time before I made something related to it, and here we are, just in time for Valentines Day. And of course I had to make a bunch of LGBT flavoured versions as well because A) well duh, and B) the pride flag colour schemes are awesome.

As always, if you want to get any of the above as a gift for yourself your loved ones this year, they’re available in their own collection over at my Redbubble store.

The Daemoness

First painting of the year finished! This one is of my Daemoness character, who is just a warmongering, bloodthirsty warrior queen, travelling the universe to destroy planets and burn the remains. You know. Happy fun stuff.

And know for the process stuff. With each painting I do I want to try at least one new thing to push myself, and the main thing I wanted to try with this was a more complex perspective than what I usually do. Fifty photo references and a few hours of drawing later, I managed to get it down, and then spent the next two weeks fighting with the painting. What I want to do is push my flatter digital illustration style (the way it is in my fairy illustrations from last year), and this painterly style closer together. This one wandered way over into the painterly style, which is great because I’d love to get better at it, but also frustrating because I want to be pulling the styles together, not going further in one direction. Not sure whether the frustration is from how long this style currently takes me because I’m not that strong at it yet, or because I want to pull away from super painterly.

Other lessons learned: use reference. USE REFERENCE THE ENTIRE WAY THROUGH. I kept getting stuck and spending frustrated hours achieving nothing but muddying the canvas, only to realise that all I needed to do was grab my camera and snap a couple quick pictures, or grab a style inspiration pic from the many I have saved. I know I need to do these things, but it seems so easy to forget when you’re in the middle of a two-hour ‘let’s glare at photoshop angrily and wait for the painting to paint itself’ session.

I was going to put a process gif, but I realised I forgot to save any painting stages between ‘flat colour’ and ‘fully rendered’. Whoops. The initial sketch is up on my instagram, if you want to do an extreme before and after, and she’s up on my Redbubble if you want her (and will probably be up on my other stores at some point over the weekend)

Onto February! I have no idea what I’m going to paint this month, but I’m sure it’ll be fun.

You’re The Swan That I Want

Hey Sam, a distance voice cries, will you ever just quit it already with the bad animal puns? To which I lovingly whisper my reply: absolutely not.

I know, I know, it’s still January but Valentines Day isn’t that far off, and that’s as good an excuse as any for yet more heinous incredible puns! So here’s this year’s collection of animals, which you can check out in my Redbubble Store, and purchase to inflict upon your loved ones this year. That being said, if anyone has any evil pun ideas they’d like me to inflict upon the world, then hit me the hell up because I am down. Also because every time I do one of these I get to experience the pain of learning to draw yet another animal, and if there’s one thing artists love, it’s constantly trying to draw things they have no idea how to draw.


We Can’t Be Alone Out Here

This piece was created as a response to a work on Pop My Mind by Drew Burrett

The Fermi Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial life, and the high probablity estimates of its existence. In other words, if the universe is so big, then how can we possibly be alone?

Do they communicate in ways we can’t detect? Are they avoiding us? Are we simply in an out-of-the-way corner of the galaxy? Did humans evolve too late, and everyone else is already dead? Or is it exactly as it seems – that in the infinite vastness of the cosmos, we are alone.

I’ve wanted to make something with a circular crop for ages and with this piece the stars – if you’ll excuse me the pun – finally aligned. I used india ink and white acrylic with this one, instead of the usual quink and pencil, and added some details digitally. The keen eyed among you may notice that the monsters are similar to the ones I used for Journey Into Mind. I’m liking them as a part of my visual language at the moment, so no doubt they’ll pop up again later. All in all, I’m satisfied with how this one turned out, and as it’s the first piece I’ve finished in 2018, I’ll take that as a good omen for the rest of the year.