Doodling on those SCRA photocopies might not be a useless habit after all. It can be your stepping stone to an artistic pursuit, if you have the talent and patience that Samuel Silva has.
Samuel was born in Portugal thirty years ago. He is now a London-based lawyer specializing in family and inheritance laws. He is also widely admired for his expertise in using ballpoint pens to create wonderful art.
The lawyer-artist is so kind to answer a few questions I asked over e-mail.
*** *** ***
What's an ordinary weekday in your life like?
My weekday is just like anyone else's, boring and full of problems to solve!
When do you usually draw?
I usually draw one hour per day when I have the time and in the weekends and holidays mostly.
Are you married or dating someone? Some fans might want to know.
No, I'm not married nor dating anyone at the moment!
When did you move to the UK? Does your exposure to different cultures influence your choice of subjects to draw?
I just moved to the UK three months ago. However the exposure to new cultures, etc., has had absolutely no influence in me, I tend to be very neutral with what I draw. I take my inspiration from the beauty in nature, not human culture.
I've met a few lawyers and law students who also dabble in the arts. Often, there were times when they felt they'd have to choose between the two. Was that ever an issue for you?
It never crossed my mind even for a moment to dedicate myself 100% to art. This is and has always been my hobby, my passion. But like everyone else I need a job with a stable income. I need to think realistically.
Why did you choose to master ballpoint pen drawing? What are the pros and cons of using ballpoint pens as a medium?
Because in my opinion it is hands down the most difficult medium you can possibly use. And I have tried them all. I can use them all. The pros are the results, I love the color and the contrast, the cons are everything you can possibly imagine. They are hard to use, you can't erase and go back in your work to fix a mistake like every other medium. I love them because they are challenging and I love challenges.
What was the most difficult to finish among your drawings? Why?
In my opinion it was The Time Traveller, just because of the sheer size of it.
You have a few drawings that make me guess you're a feline-loving person. Do you have pet cats?
Yes I do have a few pet cats. I love felines, you are right!
I've read some online comments doubting the authenticity of your works, from those who don't believe those are possible to produce with just ballpoint pens. What do you think about those comments?
Those were made in the beginning, before people knew that lots of people all around the world were buying my work and before they knew my work was genuine, and I can understand why, but sometimes reality surpasses even fiction. Today I have sold works to people as important as JJ Abrams, (yes him) amongst many others, all people have to do is ask the commissioners, I almost always disclose their name.
Are your drawings for sale? Do you consider putting up an exhibit of your works?
I have sold lots of works from my own collection and commissioned works. I am currently looking for a gallery in London to host an exhibition soon!
*** *** ***
The drawings might make you feel a bit ashamed of your SCRA doodles, but hey, take that as an inspiration. That's a good start.