Sam West Interview about the Adobe MoviePosterMovie Competition

By: DeeDee Ogbogu

Since winning the Adobe MoviePosterMovie contest, Sam West has emerged as an artist who knows how to convey a story in her work. The trajectory of her experience and notability has been building, and she is not even a college graduate. Coming from Rhode Island, Sam has flown to Los Angeles for a rare chance to see her art come to life as a film. Read on as Sam gets real, tells you what she is capable of making, and how she is going to keep getting better. All while wearing cicada earrings and clad in an oversized denim jacket.

What is your name, what do you study?

My name is Sam West, and I study graphic design.  

What made you decide to enter?

Sam: I’m lucky that I’m in a program that values the role of a designer as an author—that is something is something I try to carry with me. I love storytelling and I love design and this contest seemed like a fun and freeing exercise of those things.

What moved you to create the poster?

Sam: I had been in a painting class where we had an assignment to spend $15 at a thrift store on anything at all, and then use those materials to create a three dimensional painting. Back in the studio I was surrounded by all these unique, pre-owned objects and was drawn to the way they lent themselves to the visual narratives my classmates were creating. That, plus a fairly messy desk in my room, and a love of illustration, is what inspired me to create the poster.

Which Adobe Creative Cloud app did you use to design it?

Sam: I made the illustrations in Photoshop and designed the poster and set the type in InDesign.

How did it feel to see the message that you won?

Sam: I called my mom and paced the entire perimeter of my room 45 times. I was totally shocked. It’s the strangest feeling - it kind of felt like getting into college. It was the same feeling in my chest. It took a good few weeks to let it sink in. I never thought I would win the contest. It was just for fun. I made the poster, posted it on Instagram and forgot about it. Then, a few months later I got DM’d and the rest is history.

Zach Braff is directing an actual film based on your poster. That is a huge deal. Nothing like this has been done before.

Sam: The project was the brainchild of creative agency Pereira O'Dell, and they reached out to Zach about writing and directed the eventual short film. Everyone feels so lucky that he said yes! I was able to read the script during our first morning on set in Los Angeles. I was so floored that this story had, in some way, been inspired by my poster. It's so beautiful and relevant and truly funny. As a 21 year old college student, the culture of social media influencers is something I'm familiar with and interact with on a daily basis, and I think the way that Zach recontextualized that world is so compelling. Zach is a very funny and talented writer, and I was laughing the whole way through.

There is so much information, attention, and publicity coming at you from all sides. How are you able to handle it all?

Sam:  I have a really wonderful support system. A lot of good friends and mentors in my corner and helping me organize each task into different categories of importance and I am really thankful for that. This is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me and it’s bizarre at the same time. I’m just leaning on my support system and more than anything I’m just really grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity and experience.

Do you have any more projects that you are working on?

Sam: I have a senior thesis coming up. I’m designing the branding for BU’s School of Visual Arts BFA Thesis Shows, with my two roommates.

People are going to give you negative attention. They are going to get mad. Thinking “what does this person have that I don’t have?” or “My poster was better”. People get mad.

Sam: Adobe announced the winner a few minutes ago, and I already got a hate message. I’m not saying that I’m gaining a huge following but that is part of being noticed. People are commenting like really sweet things, and it sucks that the one negative comment is the one that I’m paying attention to. It feels bad. It’s very much like Tumblr anon messages… do you know what I mean? It feels like that.

Is there anything you wish you knew before all of this?

Sam: I think… no, because had I known what the movie was about, like what the movie now is, I wouldn’t have made this poster. Not at all. I would have made an entirely different poster. I think the poster plus this movie is a way more interesting pairing. They inform each other in a very different way than if the poster was made after the movie was made, which is the best part of it.

What have you learned through this unique experience?

Sam: Maybe this isn’t something I’m learning now, but it’s something that is affirming—that design really is a huge part of life and it can elevate stories in a really special way. The role that design is playing in this film making process is so exciting and makes me more excited than I’ve ever been to begin my career. It’s hard to imagine how graphic design could have this role in making a film. I'm just so excited to see what the next iteration of this might be.

After graduation, what adventure are you off to next?

Sam: I just accepted a summer internship in New York with Pereira O'Dell, the agency that brought this entire project to life, and I am so grateful and excited for the opportunity to keep learning from their incredibly talented team. I am looking forward to fully starting my career and continuing to share stories through design.

Is there anything else you have to say? Anything that you want people to know?

Sam: I just hope that projects like this keep happening. I think that this will only keep getting better. If Adobe and Pereira O’Dell run this same project next year, an entirely different story will be brought to life. I just hope to keep seeing that sort of content and collaboration happening in the future. What are you without your stories?

Get your free tickets to the red carpet premiere of Sam's movie, In the Time It Takes To Get There, HERE (via Facebook or Eventbrite). The event is this Thursday night, April 18 in Boston, here are some great reasons to be there:
        •       Red Carpet Entrance
        •       Interactive Spaces That Transport You Into the Movie
        •       Live Band & DJ
        •       Full Screening of the New Film
        •       Amazing Food
        •       Premiere Gift Bag, Surprises and much more...

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