The socially relevant and controversial illustration work of Sam Ivin

June 17, 2016

Today’s Daily Dose we speak to Sam Ivin, who has a new book out and is also part of the BJP’s Breakthrough sessions! 


  Hey! Please introduce yourself and what you do!

Hey, my name’s Sam Ivin and I’m Documentary Photographer interested in people and social issues. I’ve recently published a photobook exploring the situation of asylum seekers in the UK called Lingering Ghosts with Fabrica.

What is it about your practice that you find so exciting and keeps you hooked?

A third of the time it can be really interesting – meeting people involved in the topic I’m investigating and playing around with visual ideas. The most exciting parts are meeting people involved in the topic I’m exploring and playing around with visual ideas. When you get to a point where you’ve created something that communicates what you wanted to say, in the way you wanted to say it, that’s really satisfying. Having all the pieces come together.

If you could experiment with any other medium, what would you choose?

Hmm, tough one. Recently I’ve found myself drawn to illustrators and print designers such as Tugboat printshop, Sigrid Calon and Shepard Fairly. I love the bold aesthetics and am definitely going to have a play around with printing this summer. Drums and music are my first real passion, though.



Where do you get your daily inspiration?

News stories and documentaries can spark some sort of inspiration for my topic ideas but my daily inspiration is probably from looking at photography (and other creative mediums) online. Fotografia magazine, Lens Culture, Instagram, and the other usual places. Recently I also made a conscious effort to start going to more photography talks and events, such as Photo Forum for example. Hearing other photographers and artists talk about their work can be really encouraging. It’s so easy to feel isolated after University, especially as photographers often work on their own. Being able to hear stories around other peoples’ work and see how their ideas marry with their techniques is very useful and inspiring.

When is your favourite time to work?

My most naturally creative time is probably the afternoon and evenings but as long as I’m not hungry I’m content working.

What makes you wake up each morning feeling pumped to create some new work?

I wish I was naturally a morning person, I’m working on it. Honestly, it’s not every day I’m pumped to make something. I really enjoy the creative process but as my work is based around/inspired by social issues I often spent time researching online or contacting organisations to get access to people and places.

I’m especially motivated when playing around with a new visual idea or meeting new people. When you’re right in the moment of creating new images and seeing everything come together, or you have a thought provoking conversation with someone. When I hear a particularly tough account of someone’s experiences that can get me angry and motivated too.

Are there any artists/photographers/writers/filmmakers or musicians where you have in mind when looking at creating new works?

No one specifically in mind when creating new work but it’s helpful look at people who have covered a similar topic/aesthetic when coming up with ideas.

Tim Hethrington was one of my first big influences. His book Infidel was the first photobook I ever owned, it blew me away. The work is incredibly intimate and gives you so much understanding about the often over-simplified issue of war. The compassion he has for people and dedication for his craft shines through his work with such ease and power. R.I.P.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on exhibiting Lingering Ghosts and planning new work.

Book available at

Five Lingering Ghosts pictures are currently being exhibited at Athens Photo Festival until July 31st.

On Friday 24th June I’ll be doing an In Conversation with Simon Bainbridge & Lingering Ghosts book

signing as part of The British Journal of Photography’s; Breakthrough Sessions with Free Range Shows , at

The Old Truman Brewery.

Reserve a free ticket here.


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