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Art, as Told by Hal Samples

Art means many things to many different people. It could be a blank canvas, it could be the spark that sets your imagination alight.

Hal Samples—photographer, documentarian, performance artist, and all-round living piece of art. Hal’s relationship with Lush has been that of a storyteller, sharing with us his experiences and life story, which have now been realized as some perfumes within the latest Gorilla Perfume collection.

Hal’s perspective of art as a concept is very considered. This is art, according to Hal.

Art is…

Art is a device that’s necessary for us to be able to see alternative ways of perception and perspectives. You don’t learn a whole lot from hanging out with yourself, so by taking in different types of art forms, you’re able to add more equations to your library to help figure yourself out.

There are times when you're going through something in your life and a song just connects with how you're feeling. It becomes 'your song', and you feel better because of it. You almost feel like you wrote the song, because you've connected with it so much. So, art is a device to be able to flush out our emotions and also gain some reason behind the chaos that is our life.

I think art is in every one of us; it’s a vulnerability, but it also allows the occupation of the artist in today’s time to be the Sherpa, helping people get back up and back down the mountain.

It gives us an escape from our realities at times. It can produce endorphins through the emotions that you feel so you don’t that you don’t need those narcotics or that alcohol. It can help you solve problems because you don’t have to be where I've been, to have what I have today. Through the art of me sharing my story, you can do your own ‘feel, felt and found’ experience and not have to go to the dark place that I went, to be able to discover that it’s pretty dark there.

So, when I say you don’t learn a lot from hanging out with yourself, art provides us through the vulnerabilities and the creations of other people, stuff that’s outside of our library that we can lay on our grid, to be able to discover more of ourselves and more of what we’re interested in and to be able to figure out this world we live in.

The creative world’s best-kept secret

The movie Pay It Forward. It was a movie that, when I saw it, I was at a place in my life where it illustrated the benefits of doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return. It was a utopian world where, you picked three people and did something for them, to help them better their life and they had to pick three people for them to do something. It demonstrated to me the need for positive change. It really is the reason why I'm here today. That movie, there’s not too many of them out there.

For me, it gave me a different insight into what we do for others. If you do something for someone, without expecting anything in return, it feels great, so you really do get something in return after all. So, if I were to pick one movie, that would be the one. Free expression The work I create for myself and work people will enjoy serve different audiences at different times, but there’s a place for all of it. Sometimes I find that I make something for me and because I’ve made it freely and I’ve really given myself to it, others like it and maybe like it even more than I do.

For instance, when I was working for an advertising firm and they gave me an agenda of branding and promotions to support new marketing and I had to fit all the criteria. They gave me 20% room to have the freedom to do whatever I wanted and they ended up with a much better product that was more relatable and had some creative input, instead of agenda, the objectives and the finished mechanical work.

If there’s an arrangement where you can participate by creating and you have the freedom to put in your passion and have your own spin, taste, and expression, then do it. It will translate to the viewer that you had that touch and passion involved in it, rather than creating for the sake of creating a final product.

The power of the artist

I can’t imagine the world without artists today. Art is not limited to the mediums of sculpture, film or painting, I think the comedy relief that comes from comedians is art. Some of the heaviest subjects are addressed most effectively when given through a comedian. You can talk about something that is grim, but if you listen to George Carlin in the 1970s and ‘80s he’s talking about controversial material, but he was saying it with a smile and a laugh. What he did was art, but he made you think in a way that it was okay to think that way. He said things that you can relate to instead of coming from a well-thought tailored agenda from the institutions or from societal government.

I think that today’s artists are the court jesters, the Sherpas and the translators of what’s happening today. I anticipate, because of the current times we’re in, even more of a need for artists. We’re to expect things that have been inspired by recent world activities.

Today the role the artist plays is creating entertainment with a purpose and entertainment with an agenda. They help us see through what is being presented to us and guide us without being snagged on the things that are petty. They help us see the bigger picture. The artist is a teacher. The artist is a translator. The artist is a way for us to be able to experience our emotions, translated through the current issues of the time.