WMC artist focus Samuel Sakaria

In this month’s artist focus we’re exploring the flora and fauna inspired world of Samuel Sakaria.


Samuel was born on a small island in the Pacific Ocean called Tokelau, which has an average population of just 1500 people. He says that he had dreamed of seeing the world beyond Tokelau from a young age, and left the island with a relative to live in New Zealand at the age of seven. He now resides in Wellington.


Growing up in the islands and island communities in New Zealand and seeing a lot of cultural patterns have had a big influence on Samuel’s illustration style, but he says that his biggest inspiration source is nature.


“Looking at the flora and fauna of different countries and within the gardens near my home helps me to formulate ideas and designs. However, I also like to explore online forums like Instagram and see what graphic designers or artists are doing.”


Another source of inspiration for Samuel is his sulphur crested cockatoo Samsam. At the admirable age of 40 (in human years), she makes a wise studio companion!


Watch this short video for an insight into Samuel’s work and techniques, and make sure to check out our Instagram page @watermark_creative for updates on Samuel’s latest work.



A family passion for the arts

Many members of Samuel’s extended family have a passion for drawing, and he credits an early exposure to his family’s art as helping him to develop his own passion.


“Being a child of the Pacific and being exposed to cultural patterns from an early age kick started my appreciation towards a more graphic representation in artistic approach,” says Samuel. “I was especially affected by the human form when I came across the Renaissance artists in my late teens.”



When it comes to commercial work, Samuel works in both photoshop and illustrator. He generally creates his roughs in photoshop and once approved, recreates them in illustrator if the client needs a vector file.


Favourite portfolio pieces:


Apple Tree Flat


This image comes from a project for Logan Wines’ Apple Tree Flat range.


“The brief was to create separate illustrations for different wine labels that could be combined into one larger illustration,” explains Samuel. “The illustrations portray the Apple Tree Flat winery and tell a narrative of the significant elements that make up its wine culture.”

Samuel enjoyed working on this project because he had to create a style that could depict all the components suitably in a flat, two dimensional portrayal. After finalising the intricate images of the people, places and experiences relating to the winemakers, Samuel says that the job of creating the vector images was quite therapeutic.


Little Island Coconut Creamery


For the refresh of the Little Island Coconut Creamery packaging, Samuel was briefed by DNA design to create a pattern with a south pacific flavour, particularly of Samoan origin, to reflect the provenance of the coconuts used in the range.



“Growing up in the Pacific Islands and also being exposed to a wide range of Polynesian cultural patterns while living in New Zealand helped to enrich the designs,” said Samuel, who really enjoyed the creative freedom he was given during the project and says that packaging projects are his favourite type of work.


See more images from this project in Samuel’s portfolio section.


Kaikoura Sounds

Our final image is a whale motif and graphic he created for a Kaikoura Sounds Pinot Noir wine label.



“My brief was to capture the Kaikoura region with a sense of quirk,” says Samuel, who used Maori designs to depict the region in an abstract manner, being careful to ensure that his imagery was sensitive to Maori culture.


Samuel says that he really enjoyed creating the interplay between negative and positive shapes in the patterns.

“Having a lot of swirl shapes and koru designs helped to give the illustration movement, so one feels like they could be looking at water or observing the geography of the Kaikoura sounds.”




See more of Samuel’s work on his Watermark Creative portfolio page