Chris Maggio captures the unpretentiousness of Sam Barsky who knits world renowned landmarks onto jumpers
For the latest issue of Buffalo Zine, photographer Chris Maggio had the pleasure of photographing social media star, Sam Barsky and his wonderful collection of hand knitted jumpers.
- Jyni Ong
- 5 May 2020
We’re always keen to know what the photographer Chris Maggio is up to. In the past, we’ve covered his oxymoronic series The New Age of The New Age in Arizona, as well as birth country’s “emotional climate”. But now, we’re onto something slightly less political but equally fantastic. A while back, Chris – someone who’s known for his photographic sense of humour and razor sharp focus – came across a pretty amazing set of jumpers.
He wasn’t sure who the creator behind these jumpers were, but it’s safe to say that these jumpers speak for themselves. They are often seen on a smiling man, in landmark locations around the world. And here’s the punchline, the composition on the detailed, hand-crafted jumpers matches the location. From Windsor Castle to the leaning tower of Pisa, to the local aquarium or park, these wonderful jumpers are nothing like you’ve ever seen before.
The person wearing the jumpers is also the creator. His name is Sam Barsky. He’s based in Hampden, Baltimore, and he’s created gosh-knows-how-many-sweaters. Clearly a very talented knitter, Sam has a 50,000 strong following (and that’s only on Instagram) where he shows off his intricate creations against the backdrop of its real life inspiration. Chris recalls how he was known simply as “the sweater guy” when he first stumbled across Sam’s jumpers. Then going on to tell us, “In an age of social media where we’re all media trained and aware of how to perform in front of the camera. Sam’s work is so refreshingly genuine. He is who he is, it’s such an exciting and unadulterated form of expression.”
With many a fan already, one of Sam’s latest is Buffalo Zine, who have featured him in its latest issue. The publication sent Chris and his friend Davis down to Baltimore to hang out with the avid collector of knitted jumpers, and of course take a few photos, too. In turn, the delightful shoot showcases some of Sam’s finest creations, with a little help from his knitting club too. “Sam belongs to a few knitting clubs in the city,” explains Chris, “and a few ladies that knit with him at the Black Sheep Yarn Shop graciously joined us for the shoot (the morning after a blizzard no less.)”
Bringing world renowned landmarks together through the joys of knitted jumpers, we are presented with The Eiffel Tower, New York’s skyline, Stone Henge – not to mention celebrations of owls and alpacas – all in one place. The shoot also features Sam’s wife Deborah, who can be seen posing next to her husband along with some goats in a barn. When they first met the social media star, Chris tells us laughingly, “Sam got his car stuck in a snowy ditch. Davis and I came to the rescue. It was a really funny way to meet initially.” The photographer continues, “it can be hard to find a good icebreaker like that with subjects, especially when it’s someone you’ve followed for a really long time. You’re a little starstruck!”
Ultimately, with this series – which is nothing short than pure happiness in our opinion – Chris’ predominant goal was to capture Sam’s “complete lack of pretension.” A genuinely sincere man who’s just excited to share his work, the matter-of-fact series showcase this at its core. “There is no ulterior motive,” he adds. “I love that he’s a strong advocate for knitting too, I feel like we don’t see nearly enough of that.” For an established photographer like Chris, there is plenty we can learn from Sam when it comes to centring oneself on one’s practice and taking joy in our work. Finally, he tells us, “Sam is always knitting and is able to literally embody his work every day – he wears one of his pieces every day of the year. And a lot of his sweaters have short sleeves so he can rock them in the summertime.”
GalleryChris Maggio: Buffalo Zine
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.