Sam Gibbons - Alumni Feature | Kent State University

Sam Gibbons - Alumni Feature

Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose opened at the Akron Art Museum on Feb. 11, 2017.  The exhibition features over fifty artists that have been featured in the popular contemporary art magazine.  A painting by one of the School of Art's alumni can be spotted in this traveling exhibition, alongside works by Kehinde Wiley, Mark Ryden, and Tara McPherson. Sam Gibbons, who studied Fine Art at Kent State University, had one of his paintings featured on the cover of Hi-Fructose Magazine, Vol. 9 and inside a current issue

Sam Gibbons was born in Youngstown, Ohio and graduated from Kent State in 2002 with a B.F.A in Painting.  He earned his M.F.A. from Hunter College in 2005 and currently lives and works in Baltimore, MD.  Gibbons creates colorful, symmetrical paintings on custom cut panels that depict cartoons, often exploring dark themes. Here is a Q&A with the artist to learn more about his time at Kent State and his life in the arts.

Q:  Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

A:  From a young age I always wanted to do something with art. Growing up I was obsessed with comic books and wanted to be a comic book artist. As my interests started leaning towards fine art, I began to see how the cartoon form was used in painting. My work still has heavy influence from the comic books of my youth.

Q:  How do you think your time at Kent State influenced your career path?

A:  My time at Kent State was a real formative period for my path in the arts. My time there gave me an overview of the broad spectrum of ideas and mediums in art which eventually let me focus in on the one that was suitable for me. The knowledgeable instruction and ample facilities allowed me to get a strong base in the fundamentals and to eventually explore new ideas in art. 

Q:  What is one of your favorite memories of your time at Kent State?

A:  The college experience comes with many fond memories. Recollecting my time at Kent State brings back quite a few. I think my favorite memory though would be at the very beginning of my time there. Not anything too specific but I really enjoyed the quiet moments spent in the drawing studios. 

Q:  What awards and recognitions have been significant in your career?

A:  One thing that has been important for me over the years has been showing my work alongside and gaining the recognition of artists that I grew up admiring. It has been a thrill to see my work shown all over the world. 

It's always great to see your work in print too-- most notably I've had my work showcased on the cover of Hi Fructose Magazine as well as the Paris art magazine "HEY!". I've also been fortunate to have my work been acquired by a number of collections including by the New Britain Museum of American Art.

Q:  Do you have any advice for current art students?

A:  Pursuing a career in fine art is not easy. It is fraught with highs and lows. The most important thing that I have found is to stay on track and don't lose sight of your goals. It is easy to give up when you don't get the recognition you think you might deserve. But it is extremely important to keep producing and constantly developing on your ideas. 

See his painting "Four Horsemen" at the Akron Art Museum through May 7, 2017.

Top Image: Sam Gibbons, "Sniff", acrylic on shaped panel, 32"x32", 2016 

Bottom Image: Sam Gibbons, "LOL", acrylic on shaped panel, variable dimensions (overall 55" x 57"), 2016