YEDaily: Sam Shuter

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
I am a Toronto fine arts artist, working in oils and acrylics on canvas and other surfaces. My primary subjects are men in suits and other fashion/culture-related items.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I started my business after many years of pursuing art as a hobby. At the beginning, painting was just something I did to wind down. It helped me zone out. With a lot of encouragement from my friends and family, I made my first few sales and its been a rollercoaster ever since.

My inspirations, and what has (currently) become my theme, are my renditions of men in suits. This is something I showed interest in way back when I was in elementary school. I spent a lot of time doodling/sketching the lapels of a man’s suit or bowties during class. Over a year ago, I found some of them. I decided to try layering my drawing over an abstract painting I had just finished and voila! I haven’t been able to stop since.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do is that the possibilities are endless. This is necessary for my creative well being. The fun thing is, I have so many options to branch out, or at least I see it that way. The most challenging part for me is doing “one thing at a time,” and often I don’t or I can’t. 

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
I have a lot of ideas, and some are already in the works. Without giving too much away, I imagine completing various bodies of artwork, joining forces with a design label(s) or creating my own, and giving back to my community through various creative projects.

What does success look like to you?
This is a tough question for a short answer.

It’s more of a headspace to me. Perspective has a lot to do with it, but if I had to lay it out, I think success is being able to wake up everyday, do what you love most or something that brings you or others joy…and being able to afford to do so.

I think it’s being able to look outside of yourself and ask how you affect the bigger picture; and doing something, even the littlest thing, to move your world forward in a positive direction. That’s all about perspective.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Can I even use the word “career” yet? The first time someone (a stranger) cut me a (large) cheque for a painting I made. I thought she was kidding. I couldn’t understand how she was willing to pay such an amount for something I had created from scratch. It was a lot to digest, and it still feels funny. All in all, the amount of positive feedback and support I am receiving from people, people I don’t even know, never gets old. It still doesn’t feel real, but it does feel somewhat “realer” than getting support from people who have always been in my corner, you know? I am so grateful for all of it.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I’ve learned a lot this past year. In combination with previous entrepreneurial initiatives, I’d say a few things that stand out are that “talk” really is cheap. 

A lot is less complicated than it seems but you’ll often only feel that way after the fact. Be diligent and analyze but, if you’re like me, you’ll over analyze and it can become an obstacle. Just jump in and get started on something. Anything. Not every step requires order.

Only once I’ve run out of time do I wish I had done the hardest things first. The things I usually consider the “hardest” are often the most important.

Good is not great. “Satisfied” is not good enough! Be relentless, not obnoxious. Stay organized. Know your business. Educate yourself. Make plans but be realistic. There is such thing as too much planning.  Be open to change. It happens without our consent. Say yes. Do, and take part in as much as you can. Don’t if you can’t.  Learn your limits. Be kind and as fair as possible. Help people. I’m not sure who said it, but “have less, be more” really resonates with me. Also, I love the “good, fast and cheap” triangle. Gets me every time.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Many. I’ve structured all of my past art-related events around charitable groups:  The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Namuwongo Project, and Forty Carrots Family Center, to name a few. I like to change it up.

I believe it is important to contribute to society. There will always be people who have more than you do, and at the same time there are more who have less than you. Beyond money, I’m talking about health and other misfortunate, too. I think it’s important to count your blessings and fight for a cause you believe in, or support someone or something bigger than yourself. Charity is also such a great vehicle to meet new and interesting people. All walks of life come together for a common goal. I love that.

It’s so easy to help. Cliché aside, a little can in fact go a long way. 

What is Notable to you?
Enlightenment, family, and true friendship.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Blackberry! Woo, the last of the Mohicans! Can I say that? I need buttons to push.

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
I am none of the above. Kidding. I am all three of the above when I am making stuff; when I am being my most productive.