vintage address book as sketchbook

Sammy Savos

Sammy Savos is a frequent Instagram-poster, which is how I found her truly lively artwork. I tend to stop the scroll when I spy cool sketchbooks spreads or other non-polished artwork, and with that Sammy delivers in spades.

Of course, her illustration and comic work is fantastic, and I’ll share some of that, but I also want to give you a big inspiring taste of her sketchbooks. I particularly love her ongoing use of small vintage address books, in which she fills each letter spread with something prompted by that letter.

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open sketchbook made from vintage address book with cat drawings and yellow background
open sketchbook made from vintage address book with cat illustration in the style of a newspaper
open sketchbook made from vintage address book with colorful images in the style of elementary school felt boards
open sketchbook made from vintage address book with illustrations of marbles
open sketchbook made from vintage address book with a collage of animals in primarily oranges
4 vintage address books
illustration of a catfish with text that reads, Banana the redtail catfish - nervous, squishy, hungry
illustration lizard characters

Commission Work

Sammy regularly takes commissions for digital pet portraits. Aren’t they wonderful?

cat drawing
dog drawing with toys
animal drawing

Sammy Savos: Website | Instagram | Buy her book

My Interview with Sammy

Describe your typical day:

Right now, my days are very different because I’m working on promotion for my book that was just published this week, The Girl Who Sang. Each day I usually spend time working on a presentation or some kind of writing that needs to be done for an event or feature. I’ll start with emails in the morning, then work after lunch until evening. Depending on how busy I am, I’ll work after dinner into the night, or I’ll stop after dinner and relax.

Sometimes I work at home, but most often I try to get out of the house and work at a cafe. I find it easiest to concentrate and get work done when I’m around other people. It helps keep my mood up too! After I finish the events coming up, I’ll be getting back to working on my proposal for my next book and taking commissions. Similarly, I’ll work at cafes throughout the day! Because I’m self employed right now I can make my own schedule, so I’ll switch work days around to spend time with family (I’m on a long stay in Boston right now! I currently live in California.)

Name your 1 to 3 favorite art-making tools:

wax pastels, cut paper, pen

What do you dislike about being an artist?

I wouldn’t say this is directed at being an artist, but something difficult about being an artist is existing in that space while art is regularly undervalued. Most art-related jobs are underpaid and unappreciated despite all people relying on and using art in their day-to-day lives. There are so many different artistic mediums and they can all be extremely powerful. They can be whatever you want! I wish that this field was treated with more respect and that artists were compensated fairly for their work; these feelings are more directed at employers and those who don’t care about the humans behind the art they admire or use everyday. I love being an artist!

What are you influenced by? People, places, or things. Just a list, or elaborate if you are feeling it!

Seeing other people’s sketchbooks, shows/stories I love (Mob Psycho 100, Avatar the Last Airbender, Crash Landing on You, Golden Kamuy, The Good Place), Jewish mythology and art, stationery, animals, my friends’ artwork

Unrelated to art, but obviously very important: Do you have any pets? What is your favorite beverage? What is your favorite article of clothing?

I have two family cats named T.K. and Molly and I have my own cat named Ophie! My favorite drink is an iced matcha, and my favorite article of clothing is a pair of cool, oversized pants.

What did I not ask that you would like to add? Any new pieces, products, accolades, workshops, or little tidbits to include?

My first graphic novel, The Girl Who Sang, just came out on January 23! It’s a Holocaust graphic memoir that took four years to make and I’m really proud of how it came out. I hope people will read it and share Estelle’s story. For my next book, I’d like to write a comedic fantasy about intimate friendships and the importance of asking questions.

As a child, was your love of making encouraged or discouraged? (either outright or subtly):

My love of making was encouraged, and I’m grateful for that! I come from a long line of artists in my family, so wanting to make art and go into art as a career was accepted. I was also always supported by friends!

Did you come to making stuff through a direct path or did you follow another career first?

It was pretty direct for me! I always wanted to an artist, specifically a comic artist. I went to school for comics, but did end up pivoting to animation to do storyboards. Comic art is very underpaid and being a graphic novelist does not come with health insurance. As a person who’s chronically ill, that was worrying for me, so I focused on storyboarding which is a typically higher paid position that can offer health insurance thanks to The Animation Guild union.

When I graduated, I was hired for a storyboarding job at Cartoon Network and around the same time accepted a graphic novel deal to do The Girl Who Sang. So I ended up doing both for a while! But recently the animation and entertainment industry as a whole has been struggling and many, many people have had trouble finding work, myself included. So for now, I’m refocusing on graphic novels supplemented with commission work!

What do you do when you feel uninspired or blocked?

I’ll either do something non-art related like watch a video/show or play video games. Other times I’ll work on my ABC sketchbooks, which are vintage address books where I draw or collage something according to a word that starts with the letter on each tab. It can help artblock to have prompts and force you to get out of your comfort zone!

Do you support yourself through your work? More than one income stream or all through work sales?

Currently it’s all through my work. For the past few years it’s been a combination of income from storyboarding, my graphic novel, and commissions. Right now I’m only doing commissions while I prep to submit another graphic proposal, so hopefully I’ll have as second stream of income soon!

Do you have any rituals, superstitions, magic, or good luck routines you practice around your creations?

I’m not sure if this counts, but I take time out of every day to spend time in my planner. It helps me set up my schedule for the day and the week while also giving me a no pressure creative outlet and diary where I can paste in stickers I have or paper things I may have collected during the day. It’s a really nice time of day to think about my day, organize my thoughts and tasks, while embellishing pages with pretty things.

Thanks for sharing! 😍

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