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  • Writer's pictureHelen Colebrook

Interview with Samantha Dion Baker

I am so excited to bring you the very first of an inspirational series of interviews, with people from the journaling and creative community. This is something I've been wanting to do for ages and I've finally got on with it - yay!

Samantha Dion Baker
Samantha Dion Baker

I was so happy when Sam agreed to be my very first interviewee. I've followed Sam on Instagram for ages and think her work is just beautiful. She has such a wonderful way of documenting and illustrating her everyday life. I hope you find her story just as inspirational as I have.

In my recent blog post about my favourite journaling books, you will see that Sam's book is one I completely fell in love with. Sam is an Illustrator, Author, Skillshare Teacher and social media superstar. So, lets get into the interview.

Illustrated Journal
Illustrated Journal - Farmers Market

Please could you tell me about your journey and how you got to where you are today?

So much of my story and where I am today in my career came very unexpectedly. If you told me five years ago what I would be doing today, I would have said, “that’s crazy”. Making money teaching people how to draw, and how to keep an illustrated journal? And getting illustration jobs with people I have always admired? I always say it’s a dream — that I never knew I had — come true.

Very short version is: I spent the first 20 years of my career working as a graphic designer. I loved it, but got burnt out. And towards the end of that period I wasn’t excited or particularly proud of the work I was doing. Plus I had my two young boys who were much more exciting than the work. So I started doodling and drawing in my journal. It was through these journal pages, fueled by our daily adventures, my design and typography background, and my desire not to forget the precious moments of my boys childhoods, that everything unfolded for me. I’m so grateful for all of it. Even being asked these questions is such a gift to me - the fact that anyone would care amazes me!

I would love to know what a “typical” day looks like for you, if there is such a thing!

You’ll get a very different answer to this question in July than other months of the year. Right now there definitely is no routine.... So instead I will tell you how I fantasize tomorrow will go:

I would go for a run around 7am, come home and eat breakfast with my boys, and get them organized for their day, which would involve no arguing and no video games (I did mention this is a fantasy). Then I would sit at a coffee shop with a friend, and my journal, for about an hour before heading to my studio. I would work for about 4 hours on client jobs and writing and organizing for my next book, and about 3 hours working in my journal and on my small painting series. Then I would walk home and order in dinner (I don’t love to cook), catch up with my boys and my husband, and maybe we would watch a movie together before bed. Sigh... most likely none of this will happen, but I can dream.

Sketch Journal
Illustrated Journal - Brooklyn

What have been your top 3 highlights of the last 12 months?

Well Draw Your Day being published would be number one. Being invited to the British Library to discuss diaries with David Sedaris and Helen Fielding on stage would be number two. And the third would definitely be meeting and working with Gloria Steinem. It’s been a good year!

You can find Sam's book, "Draw Your Day" here.

Draw Your Day Book
Draw Your Day

Do you have any tips you could share for people looking to start their own illustrated journal?

I talk about this in Draw Your Day, but the first thing would be to let go of fear and desire for perfection. Nothing is right, nothing is wrong, and certainly nothing will be perfect. A sketch journal is a safe and personal space to feel free to explore. Just move color around and play with drawings and composition slowly. It’s a never-ending adventure that is so rewarding. The combination of capturing memories through an art-making practice can feed into all parts of your life, your relationships, and all of your other creative endeavors.

What exciting plans do you have coming up?

I have signed on to write another book that will be published in 2021. This book will have much more instruction, step-by-steps, and challenges for the reader. While it was my intention with Draw Your Day to NOT teach specifics, but to inspire and encourage, I quickly realized that my readers really want more guidance. It’s quite an undertaking, as I never saw myself as someone with the authority to write a book like this, but I am excited by the challenge.

I am also teaching a week-long workshop in Sicily next May. I am so thrilled and honored to have been invited by Fabrizia Lanza who owns Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School. We will be spending half the day drawing and painting, and the other half cooking and eating, all while surrounded by the scenery of a working Sicilian vineyard. I think there are 2 spots left if anyone reading this is interested in joining! You can find more details here.

Drawing Workshop Retreat
Drawing Workshop Retreat

Is there anything you could tell us about yourself that not many people know?

I asked my kids to help me answer this question. Here are a handful of things, in no particular order:

I don’t like winter or skiing and this frustrates my family very much because it’s their favorite time of year, and their favorite activity. On ski trips I stay by the fire and draw.

I prefer dark chocolate. I have known my husband since I was 13 (we haven’t been together since then, but that’s when we first met). I love to travel, and my kids have been to about 16 countries already, but I never left the U.S. until I finished college.

In another life I would be an athlete. I am a true Gemini - somedays I’ll be completely shy and introverted, and other days I can’t stop talking to people. I have massive stage fright and this past year I talked to a group of 100 people about my work - that was quite an achievement for me!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My incredible city, travel, and my family.

Illustrated Journal
Illustrated Journal

If you had to pick your top 5 art supplies, what would they be?

A soft-ish pencil (2B or 3B)

A large plastic eraser

Endless fine-line permanent pens

A number 3 Winsor & Newton Series 7 paintbrush

A watercolor palette

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Running, going to museums and galleries, seeing movies, going to nice meals with my husband, spending time with my boys, looking at photographs my older son has taken, and of course drawing.

Illustrated Journal
Illustrated Journal

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Candy and binge watching an old tv show like Freaks and Geeks or Felicity while I work in my journal.

Journal Stack
Sam's Journals

I can't thank Sam enough for agreeing to this interview. I found it so inspirational hearing all about Sam's journey and I hope you found her interview just as wonderful as I did. Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

You can find Sam in the following places:

Until next time, happy journaling. Helen x

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