A Word with Sam Baker from Vacation Studio

A Word with Sam Baker from Vacation Studio

Vacation studio is a freelance creative studio by Sam Baker based out of Wanaka, New Zealand. This is a project based on passion, and having worked on a range of illustration campaigns and company rebrands we have been able to sustain ourselves and do what we love. 

vacation studio illustration for yo vocal magazine

In a nutshell, what is Vacation Studio and how did it come to be?

Vacation Studio is essentially an outlet for me. It came to be in a slightly different manner to most as I have no formal design training as such. My original foray into design came about through a health issue in my early 20’s that had me bed bound for a number of months, and unable to do much for the majority of a year.

I had always drawn alot as a kid, but this had taken a backseat in recent years, however with no real outlet I turned to drawing once again. And with time up my sleeve and an eagerness to learn, I bought the Adobe suite and got stuck in from the ground up. It took a while to grasp the basics, however it finally started growing and people were enjoying what I was putting out. Many, many hours later, and a few years of working long nights with a full time job, I finally went full-time freelancing and I’ve loved every minute since.

The idea for Vacation came from these months and months spent at the lowest point, and after an operation I finally came right and it gave me an entirely new outlook on life. Everyday was a holiday after that. Life is a vacation and we might as well enjoy it.

vacation studio nz

What does a “day in the life” look like for you at the moment?

During the first covid lockdown, me and a few mates were working from home and it was all pretty dire. Computers on the dining table and no real space to make your own, and with pretty limited co-working options in Wanaka we decided to go out and make our own dream space.

General service (our space) is by no means pretty. It’s a dusty workshop with a mezzanine we converted into an office that is usually hot in summer and cold in winter, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Each morning I roll up the door about 8am, we fire up a coffee, and pretty much get stuck in. I’ll usually check and answer emails for an hour or so in the morning, and then draw for pretty much the rest of the day.

The days are all over the show with different projects overlapping and deadlines changing, so somedays I can be in here till 10 or 11 at night (more often than I’d like) but equally so on quiet days we usually try to knock off around 4 and go for a ride. There’s no shortage of things to do in Wanaka so we are pretty spoilt come the evenings.

general service studio wanaka vacation studio nz

vacation studio nz

You have a very warm and welcoming aesthetic – were there any heavy influences from your past that have shaped your practice today?

I guess the aesthetic I developed stems from the attitude I originally started Vacation with. I enjoy each day, and I guess I’m just trying to impart a little bit of my view on the rest of the world. It’s pretty nice to see a little postivity in the current climate I feel.

vacation studio nz

Print Room has had the pleasure of printing your artwork on Goodlids hats and tees for a while now, can you tell us a little bit more about your relationship with Goodlids and what the future holds there?

Dane from Goodlids is an amazing guy. I was lucky enough to work with him right from the start, in helping establish the brands look and feel and we have continued to work alongside each other the entire way.

He is doing incredible things with hemp. Pushing a strong message for climate change and looking after the earth is refreshing to see. It’s an honour he puts so much trust in me to help convey his message. Each season he gives me a pretty wide brief and lets me run wild with it, which is really nice as a designer as sometimes we can get pretty pigeon holed into one certain avenue. So thanks Dane, it’s been a blast.

He has quite a few plans going forward this year, so all I can say is stay tuned to Goodlids, good things are coming.

goodlids headwear x vacation studio

When you’re not drawing away, what else gets you going?

So much drawing. But other than that I try to keep pretty busy, probably too busy alot of the time. Living in Wanaka we have so much to do. I grew up chasing the professional mountain biker dream. Fell a tad short, but still love getting out on the bike as much as possible in summer. When winter comes the skis come out. We have a pretty heavy crew here in wanaka that love getting after it in the weekends, so in the summer months we try get out and see as much of the country as possible, doing trips all round the place, as when winter comes we pretty much never leave town and lock in for the season.

I pretty much enjoy making anything. So usually during the week, i’ll be tinkering on something. Have rebuilt a couple of old motorbikes, weld up some racks, or make tables. General Service also keeps us pretty busy building new shelving or tables for the workshop. So there is always something pretty hands on going on a lot of the time. I’m also seriously notorious for doing stuff myself, so more often than not I’m doing something far beyond my pay-grade on my car or motorbike but it’s all learning, and that’s the process I really enjoy. Just seeing something go from a pile of junk to a finished product as a result of hard work and perserverance is really satisfying.

generalg service workshop wanaka

wanaka nz

What does the future hold for you and Vacation Studio?

To be honest I don’t really know. I’m thoroughly enjoying the natural curve of where it is going, so just taking each day as it comes. I still get just as excited when a new job rolls in as the day I started. I love seeing the work come to life. So probably not much day to day stuff will change in the forseeable future. Hopefully some more clients and do some bigger and better work would be exciting.

One thing I’m pretty eager to get off the ground is doing more work for myself. I used to paint and make T-shirts alot but at the moment I’m barely able to get away from the desk. So hopefully soon, you’ll start seeing some of my own merch and some more paintings. That would be pretty fun.

sam baker vacation studio

Last question, if you could vacation anywhere for a week, where would you go?


So many places seem appealing right now, but probably Mexico. A moto trip along the coast with warm-water right hand points and cheap tacos seems pretty sick right now.

wanaka nz

Keep up to date with Sam's latest work on Instagram

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