From culinary school to UX design and illustration: the creative journey of Samantha Slinn

With many strings to her bow, Samantha discusses her ever-growing creative journey.

19 November 2020


Illustrator Samantha Slinn is Canadian through-and-through, born and raised in Vancouver and affectionately describing it as “a lovely tree-filled, rain-filled place that I call home.” Despite spending time in the US and the Netherlands for numerous internships, Samantha remarks “I guess I’m a mono-city gal for the time being.” 

Inheriting her parent’s design-focused or artistic sensibilities, Samantha explains that most of her creative energy was focused on a culinary-focused arts career while growing up, aiming to live out her “Iron Chef dreams”. It was only right at the end of high school that Samantha redirected in favour of going to university. “After a couple years of meandering around general studies I found out about the UX design programme at my school and dove into that,” she recalls, “It was a re-intro to art and design in a way that combined a lot of my interests, so I was strapped in for the ride.” 

Samantha’s focus from UX design then shifted again towards illustration after finding YouTube illustrations. Starting to draw again Samantha became hooked, finding herself spending the entirety of her free time behind a sketchbook. “Over time I started to move through different tools and techniques,” she explains, “until I found something I liked and that felt good.” From here, Samantha moved from strength to strength, working on projects for friends before soon working for bigger clients and progressing into animation.

From cuisine to UX to illustration, it’s safe to say Samantha has had a varied ride creatively, but is all the better for it with her real-world experience to draw on and be inspired by. “Things are always moving around for me stylistically,” Samantha tells us, remarking that what remains constant seems to be the use of vivid colour, equally as vibrant characters and a distinctly flat aesthetic. “Usually with some air of old-school Disney vibes,” Samantha adds, “there is a dash of awkwardness or absurdity for good measure.” It is here that lies the charm of Samantha’s illustrations, which have a whimsical air of enchantment and charisma.


Samantha Slinn: Spooky George and the haunted delivery (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)

Continually experimenting with themes, such as her “heavy floral phase”, which she committed to appropriately in spring this year, there is a definite element of play throughout her work. “Without a doubt, people are my favourite thing to illustrate,” Samantha tells us, relishing in the “awkward, underwhelming yet also doomed situations” that she seems to drop them in. Controversially, Samantha is also a fan of drawing hands, explaining that “hands are just the most fun to draw and I love how much you can say in an image with just five fingers, or a certain look in someone’s eye.”

A recent project Samantha worked on was for Hulu’s Your Attention Please, a series featuring numerous animated shorts built around stories of young Black creators throughout their respective industries. “I worked with a director and small team of animators to bring the story of sustainable fashion designer and climate activist, Maya Penn, to life,” Samantha explains, “it was a totally new challenge for me illustrating a narrative of that length and working under a time crunch to go from storyboards to final delivery.” Satisfied with the outcome, Samantha tells us, “I was really honoured to be a part of such a talented and dedicated team.”

Also still committed to UX design, Samantha works Monday to Friday as a digital product designer at a Vancouver-based design agency, working on apps and websites for global clients, pulling out the iPad after work “to moonlight as an illustrator.” Not finding much overlap between the two disciplines of UX design and illustration, Samantha adds that “the style of illustration I do is more editorial leaning and less product illustration.. but I did find that they started having a lot more similarity when working collaboratively on a creative team, like on an animation.”

With her continued work with a magazine keeping her busy, Samantha hopes to have a lovely (and deservedly restful) break over the holidays, telling us “hopefully some more exciting projects to come in the new year!”

GallerySamantha Slinn


Samantha Slinn: Clip from an 'Hulu's: Your Attention Please - Episode 4', Client: Hulu (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Flower lords collecting taxes (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Ctrl freak (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: The weekend (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: I Need a Break From Being a Woman of Color, Client: Medium (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Cortez (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Kids Turned Out Fine (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: G20 (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Sphinxy (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Fairytale of East Van (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)


Samantha Slinn: Happy Birthday (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)

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Samantha Slinn: Back to work (Copyright © Samantha Slinn, 2020)

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About the Author

Harry Bennett

Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.

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