Sam Clyma straddles disciplines and languages in his practice. Moving from New Plymouth to Auckland straight out of high school, he originally studied fine arts before being drawn to the creative potential in fashion.
A self-confessed knowledge- seeker, Sam’s interest in both fields led to hours of research in the University of Auckland Fine Arts Library. In particular, he "enjoyed reading how fashion was written about as much as the process or product itself – seeing how fashion, as a visual language, could be translated into a written one and experiencing fashion outside its directly physical nature". Sam’s work engages with the conceptual. All the information he consumes helps him to formulate conceptual ideas, and the objects he creates in his design practice are an extension of these ideas in physical form.
Shifting back-and-forth between art and fashion design has presented Sam with both challenges and benefits, as he has found that not being design-trained allows him to explore more experimental methods of creation. A recent series of handbags attempts to describe an “experience of baseness” through moving and removing traditional design features, for example, the placement of zips and openings at the bottom of the bag, rather than the top. His practice also subverts the visual grammar of standard fashion construction. Created as part of his current Fine Arts Honours work at Elam, the bags embody Sam’s approach to fashion and art as forms of communication.