Catching up with Sam Baker of Vacation Studio
We're stoked to share this interview with Sam Baker of Vacation Studio. Sam is one of the special people that make Goodlids what it is, through his great illustration and design-work. You may recognise Sam's quirky style from other classic NZ brands he's worked with like Pals and Parrotdog! We got the chance to catch up with Sam, speak about his journey and ask what he's been up to lately. Enjoy!
How did you get started in design, and what was your first piece of work for a paying client?
I never set out to get into design. I always drew as a kid, and did art throughout school, but the rush and chase of uni put that on hold for a few years. I initially studied marketing in the hope it would be a creative outlet, however all it turned into was a grooming service towards becoming a salesman, and that most definitely didn’t fit the bill for a future career.
It wasn’t until I got really sick for a year with Crohn’s disease and all of a sudden had all this free time. I naturally gravitated towards drawing again, and around this time I had learnt what graphic design was. So with a lot of time, and youtube at my disposal I poured myself into the process of learning everything I could find around design. It was a slow process, but I enjoyed every minute of it, which was what mattered.
The transition into making it a career took a few years. I would work all day and then come home and work on design work all night making stuff for myself and just developing a direction to hone in on. I think the very first paid gig I got was for a local shaper called Gnome Orr Shaping Co, who trusted me to make him some graphics for his boards. And from then on the ball just slowly started rolling and jobs would slowly roll in more and more frequently, and now I am full-time freelancing and it’s exactly what I could have ever wanted.
Tell us a little bit about your new project, General Service!
General Service was born out of necessity. Me and a mate Finlay Woods, the man behind Woods Equip, were living together working from the kitchen table and it was growing old really fast. Each day we would talk about how sick it would be to have a big shed to work from and house all our never ending projects, and eventually we actually put our plans into motion and sourced a commercial space to build our space.
The idea behind General Service was to make a space for us to work, but also run it as a creative space for others to enjoy and bring similar minds together in one area. It has been one of the funnest projects, as we all have built stuff in the past, and we spent nearly a month straight kitting it out and couldn’t be happier with how it has turned out. We now have 5-6 of us working out of here full time and it’s a great environment to be working from. We have plans to run movie nights, and art openings and just make it a place for people to come and hang out, and appreciate some nice work.
What does a typical day look like for you at the moment?
We have started to almost live out of General Service the last couple months. We all have our breakfast here, so normally we roll in at around 8.30, fire up the percolator, make our oats, banana and peanut butter staple, then get into the days jobs. Monday’s, Wednesday’s & Fridays we all get out and go for a lunch ride and then work late, I imagine when skiing season comes we will be pushing the work hours around a lot as well.
After work in Summer is pretty ridiculous in Wanaka. The days are long, and the activities are endless. So we all keep pretty busy. Not complaining at all.
You’ve designed a bunch of Goodlids to date, which is your favourite hat?
Outside of your creative work, what are you passionate about?
I’ve been fortunate to grow up doing loads of different activities. I rode motorbikes and mountain bikes most of my life, and moving to Wanaka has opened up so many other outdoor avenues. So pretty much anything outdoors gets me going - jack of all trades, master of none type deal. The garage looks pretty hectic with the ever growing list of toys. I’m a big fan of learning and the process behind making something with your hands.
The satisfaction of seeing something come to life from an idea you have had is addictive. I’ve been learning to weld recently, and have always made things with wood, so my nights are always full with making something or fixing something. Everything of mine is always broken, so I’m forever busy on something.
How has that passion helped you build Vacation Studio?
I think the idea of learning and always progressing keeps things new. I don’t want to become stagnant so I’m always looking to develop and learn new things to keep it exciting and moving forward. I think that key trait has helped to develop Vacation, as within the creative industry there is so much to learn. So I’ve just kept at it and kept learning and it’s allowed me to keep stoked every day. But to be honest, I have the people to thank for making Vacation as I’ve never really had to market myself. Every time I finish a job, a new one rolls in and I couldn’t be more grateful to keep doing what I enjoy.
What has been your favourite part of your Vacation Studio Journey, and where to next?
Getting General Service going has been a huge stepping stone in giving me purpose and a place to call home, before that it has always been at home and just not exactly the greatest environment to work from. So hopefully the best of Vacation is till to come.
But overall my favourite part is just getting to see people stoked on what I do. Helping someone bring their idea to life and seeing it fruition in the world is something that will never get old.
I’ve always painted on the side, but trying to find time is near impossible. So I think next for Vacation is perhaps to concentrate some more time back on my own business. Makes some tees, do some paintings, keep learning. It’s all fun and games.