What does it take to make your artistic projects a reality in today’s world? What are your next steps right out of college? ADA Alumnus, Sam Fuhrer, talks about his experience as a working artist after his recent graduation. He is currently working on several projects while also holding down a job and continuing to grow through taking workshops and classes. He has found a deeper meaning and opportunity in the financial obstacles this world can put between an artist and their dreams.
The project he is currently putting all of his effort into is his folk band SOFspoken with fellow ADA Alumna Margot Bennett. They have recently been invited to record and collaborate with singer/songwriter Simone Felice! You can help SOFspoken make their new record a reality by contributing to their crowd funding campaign: https://www.
When did you attend the Accademia?
I attended the Accademia in the Fall of 2011 (September-December)
What did you study there?
I studied physical theater, Commedia dell arte, Voice and Speech, mask making, philosophy and collaborative performance.
What University were you coming from?
What was your favorite thing about the program?
My favorite thing about the program was that it was an environment conducive to making art. As it was happening I knew it was a special experience, but did not realize how rare communities like that are in our modern world until I left. It was a place where I grew as an artist, learned about myself, collaborated and then performed for each other. The constant audience, diverse and interdisciplinary students made it so that we were constantly challenging each other to work harder and enforced a healthy dose of competition.
Can you share a favorite memory or story from your time in Italy outside the classroom?
There are so many great memories from studying abroad in Italy, but if I had to narrow it down it would be the glamorous and disastrous adventures of fall break. I went to Barcelona and Berlin with my friends Serena Shapiro, Roberto Caprioti, Seth Gilliard, Jeremy Russial, Alex Orthwein and Phil Wong. We decided to cram as many activities into a short period of time and did not plan properly for any REM sleep. From beaches to night clubs, museums, walking endlessly through the cities, trying different restaurants, football games, meeting new friends. Unfortunately Serena and I got sick and couldn’t move on to Berlin, but definitely made for an impressionable life experience
Do you have any “must sees” while in Arezzo?
Have Alessio take you to O’Scugnnizo. That’s honestly the only restaurant name I remember, there are so many good places, be brave and explore.
What were some of the biggest “take aways” from your time at the Accademia?
My biggest takeaway from the Accademia was learning the possibility of creating art. Although I knew I wanted to be a performer, it never occurred to me how to do it. Although we didn’t learn much about the business side of art making while we there, we learned the most important part, how to create content that is funny, meaningful, to the point, and ready for an audience.
Do you stay in touch with anyone from your class?
I stay in touch with almost everybody, am currently in a two year relationship with someone I met there, and constantly share and collaborate with friends from the program.
What have you been up to since the Accademia?
Since the Accademia I have been up to many exciting things. I spent a semester in India studying Tantric ritual, graduated from college, studied neuroscience, got a degree in theater, spoke at my graduation, acted and worked on a feature film in Milwaukee, have made over ten of my own short films, written a feature length screenplay and started a folk band, SOFspoken.
Can you tell us more about SOFspoken? How did you get started? Where do you see this project going and what plans have already been made?
SOFspoken (Sam Oliver Fuhrer) is the name of the band I started, and the roots of its creation began at the Accademia. I had always been a fan of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Conor Oberst, and wrote a few songs privately but never shared them with anyone. Since everyone seemed to be sharing everything they were doing in Italy, one night I asked a friend if I could play her a song. Thankfully she liked the song and we played them for the group after. Two weeks after returning home from Arezzo we recorded a few songs at a friend of mine’s studio and put them online. They went over well, but I was off to India before I could try to book any gigs. While in India I continued to write songs, and now have a large collection of tracks that I am organizing for a record. http://www.
What other projects are coming up? How do you juggle several projects at once successfully?
The biggest project I have coming up is the record. I am putting my blood sweat in tears into raising money to record, making sure my skills and songs are sharp, and trying to keep everyone involved excited and motivated to make a great piece of work. I am also finishing up a screen play called Odd Jobs, which is an adaptation of a novel written by a good friend, Ben Lieberman. We’re in the very early stages of pre-production but am confident that that project will get off the ground this year as well. All this on top of a job and taking classes.
The secret to juggling several projects at once is finding time to work on them, cutting out unhealthy distractions and focusing on goals, both short term and long term. I was a bit naïve coming out of college and did not realize how hard society makes it on artists who are not massively well known or endowed, but I am learning that it is possible to make work and if you suffer long enough, people will start to pay attention.
What difficulties and triumphs have you encountered in your work?
Funding has been a huge issue. I don’t want to shy away and ignore capital as a quintessential element in making art. This does not only go for making films and records, if you are a young artist and want to put on an independent play in New York, it is incredibly difficult without a few thousand dollars you can spend on producing it. Money also helps people show up on time. However, lack of money has led to some creative triumphs in this first year out of college. I have devoured libraries of post modern literature, started a novel and written some of my own fiction. Reading and writing are free, remember that.
What kind of person might be interested in similar work and how might they go about pursuing this?
I hope that all people are interested in my work, but the kind of person that may be interested in creating similar work is someone who is self-motivated and trying to find their unique and complex voice as an artist, and still wants an audience. Pursuing this work is different for everyone but if I had to list a few things that I think may be universal it would be to find a balance of collaboration and solitude. Find a means of income and/or access to some capital, ask for favors but don’t take advantage of anyone, and work like a desperate savage.
How has the Accademia helped shape who you are as a musician/artist/creator?
When I arrived at the Accademia I was in a transitional period of my life and was very impressionable. I learned not only about the craft and discipline of making art, but the philosophy and history of artists who have managed to get their ideas created. The strongest skill I took away from the ADA is collaboration. Working with other talented people makes the work exponentially better, the hard part is creating without any ego and staying focused. Its also a lot more fun to work with people than alone, but do not be afraid of solitude!
What would your advice be for people considering attending the Accademia?
If you are interested in a career in the arts, do it. The classes and talent at the Accademia is just as good if not better then some of the most advanced and popular classes in New York City. It is a time to learn your true potential, create in a positive and encouraging environment, and develop your talent.
In your opinion who is a good candidate to get a lot out of the program?
A good candidate is someone who is open minded, willing to grow, learn, share and take risks. I’m aware all these descriptions sound cliché but there’s really no other way to put it.
Learn more about Sam Fuhrer on his website: www.sam-fuhrer.com