cult kits sam nicklin interview

ART OF VISUALS: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAM NICKLIN

Born into a creative family of musicians, actors and directors, it's not hard to see a career in the creative world become a reality for Sam Nicklin. The former 'Head of Visuals' at the kings of terrace fashion culture, Art of Football, has seen his work take the Nott's based brand to new heights and given this photographer and image creator, a platform to shine. 

We caught up with Sam to speak about where his passion for image making arose, what informs his process, and future goals post after Art of Football.

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Cult Kits: First things first, Sam... Who do you support?

Sam Nicklin: I’m born and bred in Nottingham, and proud to be from Notts, so it has to be Forest. My B-Teams are Wolves and Gillingham, for two of my best mates Matt and Josh.

CK: What’s your earliest footballing memory?

SN: I know it sounds a bit daft, but when I joined AOF (Art of Football) I didn’t have much interest in football. I was a sprinter and played rugby but never had an interest in playing football or supporting a team. That being said my dad watches every sport, and I mean every sport, we used to watch big footy matches together on the TV. Me completely clueless on what’s going on, and him trying to explain without getting too distracted. Got some fond memories of that for sure.

CK: So,you went on to work for AoF for over 4 years, what has brought about the move away?

SN: AOF has been great, just over 4 years of giving it everything and it feels like it’s flown by. I was given the room to grow and learn, but I always wanted to work for myself, and it just felt like the right time to do that. I love working with new people, and meeting creatives and personalities, and I thought it was time to get my name out there and see what can happen!

 

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CK: The AoF brand has grown hugely over the last couple of years, what’s been your greatest achievement there as head of visuals?

SN: It’s mental how much it’s grown. When I started it was a relatively small operation in Nottingham with only a handful of people in the team, and now it’s becoming a football household name. There’s been some great things, but I think just being able to be flex my creative muscles a bit and being given responsibility on so many projects has been great. I think even though I’ve gone, you can still see a bit of me in my work I made over the years.

 

"Do a good job, but have a good time doing it, and make the people around you thrive, that’s what my family have always tried to do."

 

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CK: What are your broader plans and hopes for 2024?

SN: In reality I just want to keep busy, work with more brands, meet more people. I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do, it’s incredibly rewarding working with other creatives and personalities, making great things together. I’ve also got a lot of personal projects that I want to push, and now I finally have the time to do them properly. Everything from portraiture, to editorial to food (especially sarnies), I’m keen to keep pushing myself creatively.

 

"I think just being able to flex my creative muscles a bit and being given responsibility on so many projects has been great."

 

CK: You’re visual style has clearly influenced a brand boldly during your time with AoF, but what’s influenced that? What has been your process?

SN: I couldn’t say a single influence has affected me solely, but growing up within a creative family very much helped. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, which I think far too many people do. Do a good job, but have a good time doing it, and make the people around you thrive, that’s what my family have always tried to do. I think there’s always been a slight tongue-in-cheek element to my work, but even when it comes to the more serious work, I’ve always tried to bring the best out of the people I’m shooting. I like to think of the people before the product when it comes to shooting, if the model or personality isn’t feeling it, it won’t look good. Once the actual brief and concept is in place, which usually happens pretty quickly, I make it my goal to bring the best out of the people I’m working with.

 

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CK: You clearly have an eye for moving film. Is this something you’d like todo more of? 

SN: Absolutely. I love shooting films, everything from directing to grading and editing. It takes a lot of thought, and a real want to make something great start to finish. I’ve always loved the whole process, which I think is something that has drawn me towards moving image since I first started shooting. I have some pretty big ideas for next year, which if I can make them work, will be some of my best moving image work to date. A lot of the films I make are short, mostly just for a quick glimpse on a social media feed, but I want to work on some longer more expansive projects, see if I can translate my style to that medium.

CK: If you could shoot anyone/any player who would it be?

SN: I guess I’ve got two answers. Anyone? Would most likely be Jim Carrey, I grew up watching his films and feel like he would be great to meet and shoot. I’ve always tried to bring humour into my life, and even when he has begun to be more serious and show a different side to him in recent years, I feel like I can relate. Player wise? Honestly it would be Wrighty. An inspiration for a generation in terms of working tirelessly to get to where he is now. The things he has done off the pitch now with his position is inspiring, would be an honour. The thing in common with those two people is that I think great conversation would come alongside it, I find meeting the subject I’m photographing and getting to know them is just as valuable as the actual photo itself. Yes you can prove you took it, but then you’ll remember that meeting every time you look at the photos.

 

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CK: What other visual artists out there are grabbing your attention or inspiring you?
 

SN: There’s a few actually. There’s a lot of amazing photographers out there that I admire, but a few have stood out to me over the past year or so that I keep referencing. Gabriel Moses is a given, his work is outstanding and you can easily tell that it’s him behind the imagery. His choice of set, models, style and everything in between is so individual. There’s a photographer out in New York called David Urbane who shoots some of the best portraiture I’ve ever seen. Beautiful work with stunning colours. Last but definitely not least, someone I came across recently though a friend, Holly Mccandless-Desmond. Beautiful photography with a real attention to detail in the lighting. I love her work, and like Gabriel and David, you can tell it’s her work from a mile away.

 

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CK: Favourite football shirt of the season?

SN: Honestly I love the Arsenal Third kit, that green and blue combo is really clean, and the simple crest is a win in my books. Had a lot of people talk about United’s home kit, I think it works really well. I think my ex-colleague and very good friend Josh Walker (and die-hard Wolves fan) would be happy to hear that I’m a big fan of Wolves Home kit too. Would love to see a full stand full of that Old Gold in full show.


Shop ALL Arsenal kits here.

 

CK: Where can people find your work and get in touch?

SN: I’m always about on Instagram, @sakegrni and on my website skgnicklin.com. I’m only a DM or an email away, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

CK: OK, lastly,... When are we working together?

SN: I’m ready when you are, let’s make something beaut.

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