Comic con artists are incredible. They create fantastic artwork of their own unique style, and they trek from con to con to sell their work and meet fans, and some even produce commission-based drawings for you!
I came across Samara Barks at a comic con last year and I had the opportunity to interview her for this article. Learn more about Samara and where you can find her at future events!
Samara Barks is a native Detroiter, now Austinite, working as a full-time freelance artist. She is the owner of Mixed Hues, which she runs with her significant other, Edward Kelly. She works in illustration and 3D design.
During her spare time, she teaches STEM classes to students in grades 3 to 5 in the hopes of inspiring more children to get involved in the field. She creates a variety of art that hinges on the need to see more representation of women and people of color in areas she is passionate about.
You used to be a derby skater. What made you get into derby skating back in Detroit?
Actually, I didn’t pick up roller derby until I moved to Texas in 2010. A friend of mine took me to a practice and once I saw it, I knew I wanted to play. I’ve played sports all my life and wanted to get back to something that’d keep me active, so I signed up for new skater boot camp and away I went!
What made you want to start your company Mixed Hues LLC?
Mixed Hues came out of necessity. I created the name of Mixed Hues years ago, but never took the steps to turn it into a business. I had a full-time design job and freelance work. I wasn’t putting the time and energy into my own art. As I grew in roller derby and attended more tournaments and games and met more people, I noticed a trend. Everyone likes to see a bit of themselves reflected in the things they love. I loved derby and I just didn’t see myself or any other persons of color reflected in derby art or merchandise. So, I created my own. Demand grew and I decided to fill that gap in our community and set out to make Mixed Hues a formal business.
Of course, skating. I’ve not made as much time for it as I can, because of projects, but that’s about to change. I’m a huge horror movie fan. I watch at least two horror movies a day and watch true crime documentaries/TV shows while I work. I have two dogs, so definitely playing with them and taking them for walks. I also volunteer where and when I can. I’m currently a mentor for the Chula League’s Little Artist Big Artist and a volunteer at the Austin Wildlife Rescue.
Favorite Austin hangout?
I’d have to say the walking trails, parks, and dog parks are my favorite part of Austin. I take the dogs out to Lady Bird Lake a lot.
Do you consider yourself a geek or nerd girl? If yes, what kind of geek or nerd?
I’m so much of a hybrid, it could go either way. I love horror a lot, so I guess that’d make me a horror geek.
I can tell you about almost any movie, but not so detailed as to the dates they came out and all the directors, etc. So, that’d knock me out of the nerd category. LOL.
What fandom(s) are you into?
When I was younger I was really into video games, but that faded as I got older. My biggest fandom I’d have to say is horror/true crime. Past that, I probably have way too many things that draw my interest.
How would you describe your style of art?
This is always a difficult question. I don’t have a particular style or description of my art. I just create it. My art spans all the things that I enjoy or love. It encompasses my passions and my drive to see more people of color in what some consider non-conventional spaces.
Which artists have inspired you over time? Do they have any influence on your art?
There are too many to mention! In today’s climate of being able to see art online everywhere, I have a lot of people I follow and pull inspiration from. My mother was my first influence and not just because she’s my mom. She worked on her art and taught me so much of my foundation. She was the spark that got me going into art and tech. Ernie Barnes was also an early influence for me. I took inspiration from his elongated bodies and how he framed his figures in his paintings. Kadir Nelson and Lauren O. Ulieme are two artists out of the many that I follow online. I always look to see what they’re studying and working on. They’re both really phenomenal artists.
What advice do you have for aspiring WOC artists?
To just create what you feel and love.
The world has always been here to tell us who and what we are and how to express both. Create what you want to see, especially if you feel it’s missing from society’s narrative. Also, the one thing I have to continually tell myself, don’t give up! You’ll have enough failures along the way that’ll make you feel like giving up, but don’t. Others are watching you work and cheering you on, even if you don’t see them.
Any upcoming appearances at comic cons or other events?
Always! I’ll be at Comicpalooza in Houston, May 25-27. You can always find me tabling at local Austin roller derby games and the Austin Flea at various places. I’m applying to be a part of the Chula League’s Cherrywood Festival, East Austin Studio Tour, and a few more big shows around Austin. So, I’m hoping for a busy year!
You can follow Samara Barks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Catch her booth at Comicpalooza in Houston for Memorial Day weekend!
Featured graphic credit: Samara Barks/Mixed Hues LLC