Coffee Break with Sam Debey
When you hear the words ‘coffee artist’, the image that springs to mind is that of a talented barista who creates pretty designs on your morning latte. In the case of Sam Debey, the medium he uses to create his mind-blowing, intricate works of art is coffee. We took a ‘coffee break’ with the artist to find out what inspires him.
What was the light bulb moment to use coffee to create art?
While adding the last few touches to a watercolour painting that I had spent a good amount of time on, I knocked my coffee onto it. I was frustrated at first but suddenly appreciated the effect the coffee had on the paper. I was sure that I had just invented a new painting medium, but found out that that ship had sailed long ago. However, the medium still peaked my interest and ever since then it’s been my primary medium of choice.
Have you always been an artist?
Yes, I spent my early childhood outside of Paris and my mother would take us to the Louvre. She would quite often paint with watercolours and even used milk in some of her paintings.
What inspires you?
Everyone and everything, from well-known artists to the people and things that surround me. It is because of these inspirations that I feel that the style of my paintings is not very consistent, as different things are always inspiring me. Sometimes pieces will be a realistic depiction of something and others can be abstract.
What role do you think art plays in society?
Art allows individuals to express themselves. I feel like we tend to think that art belongs to certain individuals gifted with a creative eye but I really think we all are artists, as corny as that may sound. When you wake up and dress yourself, you are picking and matching different articles of clothing that you think will make you look and feel good. So even those of us that have a good sense of style are artists. Everyone’s individual artistry collectively makes art an integral part of society. Without individuality, life would be boring.
What is a response your work has received that stands out in your mind?
One of my favourite responses was when I was selling my paintings at the Beachfront Markets in Surfers Paradise. An older woman looked at all my paintings, then stared me in the eyes and said, “Coffee is for drinking, not for painting with!” and continued walking.
If you had to pick five things you could not live without, what would they be?
It would have to be my sailboat, the ocean, good food, coffee and of course my watercolour paper.
Speaking of coffee, we have to know how you take yours.
Black! I enjoy drinking it that way, and it makes for a better ink.
Finally, what is the best piece of advice you have received?
It would be to keep practicing, research other artists, and not establish any boundaries. Breaking the rules is what will make your artwork stand out. Someone looking at your art might say, ‘hey that person’s legs are too short’. At least your art piece got a reaction and that is what it is all about for me. You want to inspire others. We see enough people with correct proportions walking around us every day. When we look at a piece of art, we want to escape reality, not a see a copy of it.