Sam Friedman is a contemporary American artist who uses line, form, texture and vibrant colors to create works that are both representational and abstract. He was born in 1984 in Oneonta, a small town in Upstate New York, about 160 miles, or a three hour drive, north of New York City.
Friedman began drawing as a young child. Trips to the beach, which Friedman says his father viewed as a great escape, contribute prominently to Friedman’s drawings of beach scenes. Watching an oncoming storm while at Rockaway Beach in 2008 further advanced his focus on the sea and sky. “There is a comfort in going to the edge of the world we live in,” he said, “and just looking out at the void.”
After graduating from high school, Friedman moved to Brooklyn to attend the Pratt Institute, where he studied commercial art, illustration and typography and received a BFA in 2006.
After completing his studies, Friedman worked as a commercial artist for companies and publications as varied as Nike and The New York Times.
Wanting to focus more on his own paintings, Friedman worked as an overnight hotel doorman in TriBeCa. Although the job gave him time to draw, he wanted to work more closely in the art world. To that end, Friedman was hired as a studio assistant for KAWS. He remained at the KAWS studio for more than five years. Friedman says that KAWS gave him a “gentle nudge” to focus on his own work, by cutting back his hours, and encouraging him to go out on his own. “Good friend, good boss and honorable person,” Friedman said of KAWS. “Being able to transition out of having a job that way, you know to gradually cut my hours down and then be able to quit and be told, ‘Hey, if you need a fallback like you can come work for me.”
Friedman left the city, moved back upstate, to Pleasant Valley, New York, about a two-hour drive north of Manhattan, where he continues to live and work.
He attributes the cleaner, smoother lines of his current works to the increased serenity of his life in the country. Earlier works clearly demonstrated the influence that Tom Wesselman, Roy Lichtenstein and other mid-twentieth century artists had on his work.
Sam Friedman has been exhibiting his work in the U.S. and abroad since 2014. He has had several solo exhibits at the Library Street Collective in Detroit, the Josh Liner Gallery in New York, the Chandran Gallery in San Francisco, Chin’s Gallery in Bangkok, Over the Influence in Hong Kong and Dio Horia in Mykonos, Greece.
Keith Estiler. Sam Friedman’s Game of Painting.Hypebeast. November 2018.
Sam Friedman Hitting the Sweet Spot in Painting. ArtSlant. May 28, 2014.
Clara DeGalan. Love Songs: Sam Friedman @ Library Street Collective. Detroit Art Review. March 1, 2017.
Wall Street International Magazine. Sam Friedman. Happy Place. January 21, 2015.
Steve Gray. Happy Place. Widewalls. December 25, 2014.
Gabriell Leung. Sam Friedman Presents Abstract Beach Landscapes in New Monoprint Series. Hypebeast. December 5, 2019.