I first became aware of Sam Kalda when attending FIT’s class of 2014 Visual Thesis Exhibition. While I enjoyed many of the artists’ work, his was by far my favorite.
I was immediately taken not only by his subject matter – men and cats –but his general aesthetic. Hiss ability to evoke moods and moments telegraphically through his use of color and a stylized, minimalist technique.
NOTE: I do not claim to be an art writer or critic so I can only hope my perceptions and descriptions doesn’t sound wildly absurd to someone who knows better! (it’s sort of how I order wine, I can describe what I like, but it doesn’t mean I know what to order).
All I knew was I had to meet this Sam fellow, who I could only assume was a cat man himself. When I contacted him he was kind enough to meet me for coffee, and sure enough, it turns out Sam’s a self-proclaimed “cat man”!
He’d always wanted a cat growing up and started, “bugging [his parents] for one starting at 6 years of age,” though sadly, his pleas fell on deaf ears.
Well finally this illustrator from South Dakota now living in Brooklyn has actualized his dream of having a cat – or a cat having him, as I’m often reminded. He shares his home (and Instagram feed) with a fluffy nine-year old black and white cat by the name of “Sister” who, from the looks of it on Instagram at least, seems very fond of the bed. I never did get to the bottom of her curious name..doh!
Sam says, “the cutest and most unusual” thing about her is that, “she pees over the drain in the tub…it’s bizarre to walk in on her!” I can only imagine! Not very ladylike Sister!
Thankfully we have no evidence of this behavior on Instagram (better left to the imagination!)! He wonders if it’s some sort or residual impact of having been born in a boiler room? Poor dear!
Many of the artists Sam listed in the FIT program as those he most admires are cat men themselves – Henri Mattisse, Edward Hopper and Saul Steinberg to name a few.
Interestingly, when we spoke, Sam added “PeeWees Playhouse” to his lists of influences. As he describes it, “there’s a bold, friendly zaniness to the show that I aspire to.” A fair description I’d say. He’s a bigger man than me as I can’t get past the whole Paul Reubens debacle (or perhaps he’s just so much younger than me he doesn’t recall it first hand!).
Sam’s favorite piece from the collection he showed at FIT was of Saul Steinberg (the first illustration in this post to the right of the series title), as it represents his sense of humor – wearing a cat mask, which is something he apparently did in real life!
When I asked him how people reacted upon seeing his work he said it was very positive and he’d like to expand on the collection to include other famous cat men the likes of Freddie Mercury and Jackson Galaxy. While he sells some of his work in print form on his site, he’d like to see his series as a book. it’s certainly one I think many of us would want to own wouldn’t you?
When I connected with him recently he said, “I’m still working on the cat series, but have taken a little break to pursue other projects. But cats always seem to find their way into my work.” Seems to be true from a few of the newer pieces I found on Sam’s website (above).
I urge you to take a look at all of his work as even the non-cat pieces are wonderful. Mark my words, I see great things in this young cat man’s future! Sam’s work can be seen and purchased on his website samkalda.com, and you can also follow him on Facebook and Instagram.