In interviews about his artistic practice, Patrick Samuel has often spoken about how his art is deeply intertwined with his experiences as an autistic adult, and he hopes to inspire other neurodiverse individuals to embrace their creativity.
After an 8-year long struggle to receive an autism diagnosis from the NHS, Samuel swore to himself when he finally received it: “I’ll never try and hide this again. It’s not EVERYTHING I am, but it forms a big part of me: how I see the world and experience it, and how I interact with others. I can’t hide it.”
Returning to Colours
In his art practice, Samuel is drawn to working with pastels and graphite pencils but also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints. Perhaps the most distinctly recognisable qualities of his art style are his use of bold, contrasting colours, intricate details and textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Samuel credits his mum for encouraging him to take up art as a child, as it helped to calm him down. However over the years, his living situation changed and art was discouraged in his new home. Twenty years later in 2016, after one of the lowest points of his life where he self-harmed and attempted suicide, Samuel returned to art.
After a friend put a drawing pad and pencil in his hands, stating ‘if you won’t talk then draw, let the pencil do the talking’, Samuel began painting every day, using his artwork to describe how he was feeling. “Every time I did it, it became a little easier”. Soon, he ventured into music as well, composing pieces that are blends of goth-rock and post-punk. After being so overwhelmed by things and a job that didn’t serve him, Samuel says he sees that dark period as “being broken into a million pieces, and the only thing that put me back together again was art.”
Communicating Beyond Just Words
Having gone through different periods being non-verbal, Samuel has found alternative ways to communicate and express his emotions: “I know what colour or shape I’m feeling, but I often struggle to express myself with words. Ask me how I feel and tell me to answer with a piece of music and I can play you exactly how I’m feeling, but if I have to use a full sentence, I wouldn’t know what words to use”. One of his recent exhibitions titled 'Escape and Return', details how art has served as his refuge to escape from the noise and speed of modern life, which can often times be overstimulating.
Samuel is also a signed music artist with Tiergarten Records, a record label set up in 2016 by autistic musician Robin Jax to support neurodiverse creatives in the music industry. He has since released 3 EPs, 15 solo exhibitions, and presented at public conferences to audiences across the UK. More than anything, Samuel is passionate about sharing with others the transformative benefits of creative therapy, becoming a spokesperson for autism awareness with the hope to inspire others to embrace tools that help them best express themselves.
Here are some more resources about how Patrick Samuel serves as a positive example of autistic representation:
Samuel, Patrick. “Art from an Emerging Artist on the Autistic Spectrum.” Disability Arts Online, 23 September 2017, disabilityarts.online/blog/patrick-samuel/art-emerging-artist-autistic-spectrum/.
Ward-Sinclair, James. “An Interview with Patrick Samuel Aka the Asperger Artist.” Autistic & Unapologetic, 24 Oct. 2018, autisticandunapologetic.com/2018/10/21/an-interview-with-patrick-samuel-aka-the-asperger-artist/.
“Patrick Samuel: ‘Escape and Return.’” Disability Arts Online, 14 Jan. 2018, disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/patrick-samuel-escape-return/.
“Singing a Different Song – Patrick Samuel Gets in Touch with Nature.” Disability Arts Online, 23 Oct. 2018, disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/singing-a-different-song-patrick-samuel-gets-in-touch-with-nature/.