All illustrations by Sam Hinton

Work / Illustration

Nature boy: illustrator Sam Hinton’s work will make you want to embrace the great outdoors

Cider and Ikea played starring roles in illustrator Sam Hinton’s semi-rural upbringing. Life in Wellington, a sleepy market town seven miles from the metropolis that is Taunton, Somerset, was reassuringly quiet. Bus trips to nearby villages took up his days, and his evenings were spent ambling into off-licenses and around playing grounds.

Life moved slowly in Somerset, but that seemed to suit Sam. “I am always influenced by natural forms and I approach my characters and colours with a lightness and positivity that I believe is a reflection of my own personality,” he tells us. “All thanks to a simple childhood in a kinda rural town!”

We’ve been captivated by this recent graduate’s bright and charming illustration work since we first came across it; Sam’s world, much like the one he grew up in, is fresh-aired and open-skied, pinks, yellows, blues, and the kind of greens that cut through the reassuring mundanity of train journeys up and down the length and breadth of England. “I think that our initial surroundings are engrained into who we are as individuals and looking back on the 16 years spent in Somerset starting from the age of two, I can clearly see the aspects that have rubbed off on me the most in terms of my creative practice and influence,” he says.

Neither a peddler of the soppy cliches of rural romanticism that threaten to turn the countryside into little more than the backdrop for a Hunter welly wearing Instagram influencers’s weekend retreat to a bolthole in Suffolk, nor a student of the folk-horror school, Sam’s work comes on like a series of uber-friendly travel guides published by Nobrow. Which is a good thing, obviously. Seen through Sam’s eyes, the beautiful and the bucolic reign supreme, making for work that positively hums with pure pleasure.

He’s not afraid to admit that the venerable London-based press is an ongoing influence on his practice, with names like Little Gestalten, Wide Eyed, and the dogs Drawn and Quarterly themselves popping up when we question the former Falmouth student about who and what keeps him inspired. When asked to pinpoint one recent work that really gets him, well, worked up, Sam flashes back instantly with Anton Van Hertbruggen’s The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have the 2015-published, award-winning tale of what happens when fantasies manifest themselves in the real world.

Having only left the comforting bosom of academia just months ago, Sam admits that “panic, self-doubt, and determination,” make up the bulk of the “definitely multiple stages you go through after graduating,” which “often happen in multiple different orders, multiple times a day, multiple days a week.”

A self-motivated illustrator who often embarks on self-initiated projects inspired by editorials in the likes of National Geographic, and The Rolling Home, Sam is also a prolific sketchbook filler, and evidently has both bags of ability, and oodles of work ethic. Which tends to be a winning combo.