Samo White is an artist from Southsea. A trans man he is known for his art depicting trans people. It’s work he does on the streets and in the studio. His current project involves the creation of a book called ‘I Exist‘. It’s a book which will showcase and tell the stories of people in the trans community.
An idea born during lockdown whilst working on a series of drawings. As an artist Samo White has always generally used himself as a muse. Depicting his own transition throughout it’s various stages. He describes his practice as a kind of therapy. A means of artistic journaling throughout whatever medium he was working in at the time. “I just wanted to look outside of myself and actually start drawing other trans people” he tells me.
Trans Representation in the Arts
Partly this work is a response to the fact that in the art world, trans people aren’t that represented. Certainly the amount of art you see in mainstream galleries doesn’t suggest otherwise. “The book is a celebration of how beautiful trans bodies are” says Samo. It’s about taking up space in some way for trans bodies to be seen.
For many the act of transitioning is a hugely personal one, whether that’s medically or socially. There can be a “real discomfort with their body” explains Samo. The process of being vulnerable and taking photos for them to be drawn in a book is quite a step. However it’s a step which in it’s very act allows that person to feel more comfortable within themselves.
Interview with Samo White
Samo reveals that for himself, art for me has always been a real form of therapy. “It was always a response” he says. I used to use it probably subconsciously as a kid, being uncomfortable with my body”. Finding himself drawn to anatomy painting and illustration it was only really in the past five years that things really began to change. This aligned with the start of his transition. From this point he says, his artwork starting to change.
“I noticed that a different style was happening and forming”. This from the starting point of transition. Changing again when he started to take hormones and then really changing when he started the medical transition. “My work pre-transition used to be quite delicate and quite soft and now in my work you can see the contrast of harsher lines. It’s a lot bolder. I think where I feel comfortable for the first time in my life within myself, that’s now echoing in my work”.
Crowdfunding I Exist
“It was just overwhelming” Samo says of the response so far. Making a call out to people in the trans community to see if they would be willing to be depicted. “It’s been a wonderful type of collaboration I guess.. a real beautiful type of thing that’s becoming its own project”.
The thought behind crowdfunding is also important. With this brings a sense of community and ownership. By contributing people can feel a part of the process as well as the fact that the very act of the crowdfunder helps to raise awareness. “It will be an educational tool as well” he says. “There are so many incredible allies out there… This year has shown us that people do want to learn and be better”. A crowdfunder campaign was a great way of helping people to be engaged with that.
Samo White was interviewed in September 2020. His crowdfunding project is aimed at raising money for a book called ‘I Exist’. It’s a project which depicts trans bodies. You can support the crowdfunder here.
For more posts in the Inspiring Interview series, have a look at: