Artist, fashion designer, visual merchandiser … Naomi Samara engages the world. The universe does it right back.
NAOMI, how did you grow up, and where?
I spent my childhood in Bali. I’m part of a huge family of crazy characters. Lots of uncles, aunties, cousins, and we used to all live in very close proximity to each other … so, there were interesting memories growing up. I am fortunate to have had a painter for a grandmother, and fairly open-minded parents, so creativity was always encouraged. Shipped off to boarding school in Sydney then Chiang Mai, where I established friendships with kids from different cultural backgrounds. Growing up with people who always come and go you get used to taking on new realities. That’s why I think Bali would be a perfect environment for a creative hub. This island makes people maintain a youthful openness towards change and new perspectives.
What’s your background?
I was in the Bachelor of Fashion Design program at RMIT Melbourne. I discontinued my course and decided to broaden my knowledge through real and versatile experiences. I moved back to Bali ready to take on any job that would require some creativity. After finding myself working for a human resources agency – doing their visuals for presentations – freelance graphic work and my own art projects here and there, I started working for Jenggala Keramik.
You’ve been working with Jenggala as a visual merchandiser. What does that entail?
Making sure that our products are visually portrayed at their best … maintaining a certain standard for overall displays in our retail outlets. Also sourcing consignment items that complement our products. The structure of the job gives me a lot of room to play. Best part is coming up with the seasonal collections (next one coming out this December). I love being able to get creative within the boundaries of functionality.
You’re opening a gallery/studio space in Sanur we hear. Do you paint?
I communicate and express myself best through my paintings. I love finding a personal connection with other people’s art – also really discovering the story and process behind an art piece. That’s why the gallery space is a dream project I’ve wanted to start up for some time. I’m naming the space Swoon … aiming to welcome young artists from different cultural backgrounds that have something fun, genuine and thought-provoking to share through monthly group exhibitions. The pieces showcased will be strictly small works not restricted to painting or photography. The space is small and understated, with an interactive working area/painting studio. Opening show will be in September – a number of great artists are already involved, all contributing works with the same theme … I’m excited!
And then there’s the fashion line …
This is something I’ve started working on with a friend, Linda. She already has her own clothing and jewellery line, Eleven44. We’re collaborating on a small line of printed basics called Ghostbird – interpreting illustrations into detailed bold patterns. The aesthetic is quite ominous, whimsical and bold. Think Hans Andersen circa 2020.
Do you have a head for business?
No, unfortunately. But I’m very lucky to be surrounded by people who do.
What stimulates you, visually?
People fascinate me. Watching body language and awkward social interactions is entertaining. There is so much depth and restraint when it comes to human exchange. Most of my drawings and paintings explore this.
You’re currently in the States? What’s that all about?
My mother and little sister live in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m visiting for a few weeks, then off to catch up with friends in Washington State. It’s my first time in this part of the world … my eyes are loving the overwhelmingly different surroundings.
Tell us a little about what makes you tick? What else are you passionate about?
Apart from the painting … cannot tick without my daily excursion to the gym and my three cups of coffee. I also love being a hermit when I’m in nature. Back on Bali it’s necessary to escape the chaos and drive up north with my paints and brushes … vanish for a few days.
On a bad day, where does your strength come from to carry on?
Doing a little bit of yoga and some cardio helps loads when I get stressed out – stops the brain from over-thinking and really helps me centre myself. Getting a huge brush and a giant canvas … going a little crazy also feels great on a bad day.
And finally, where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d like to have the gallery space established and flourishing as a centre for young artists and quality work. Being based on Bali, doing what I love … traveling and getting inspired by different environments. I hope to still be taking on new projects and being humbled by learning and working with amazing people.