Artist Spotlight: Alvaro Samuel Castro

Artist Spotlight

Bow Arts chats to Alvaro Samuel Castro about the process of collage, artistic influences and exhibiting work in the Nunnery Café Exhibition.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little about your practice

My name is Alvaro Samuel Castro but go by Sam to most people. The foundation of my practice is asking what happens if you put image A next to image B. What happens if I show you image B several times in a row. What happens if I zoom in to image A. These questions result in endless possibilities and more questions. I mostly work with drawing, painting and collage but have worked with photography and sculpture and am open to everything. If you were to pop into the studio on a random day you could catch me looking through a national geographic magazine or maybe trying to organise folders full of screenshots on my laptop or tracing a cropped springbok’s hindleg with my projector…. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Nothing in particular, I’ve been without a studio for so long that just being in the studio feels so good. Having the show at the Nunnery Café has made me want to go back to collaging so that 100% is something I will be exploring in the short term but I’m going to review all aspects of my practice and see if I want to continue things that I had started or maybe experiment and try new things. 

Tell us about your current studio in Camden and how you feel it will go on to influence your work.

The studio itself I’m incredibly thankful for, but I don’t think it will influence my work. I’m sharing the space with my friend and fellow artist Nicky Metgzer and I love being there so far. 

What’s the drive/motivation behind your work?

I love art, I love making and thinking about it. It is infinitely interesting, challenging and mostly joyful for me. 

What themes are you interested in?

I’m finding this hard to answer. Most of the time themes come during the process of making or after when showing work in a public or intimate context. 

Who are your artistic influences/inspirations?

Hard question haha. My influences are literally everywhere, in London it feels like I’m blessed with interesting visuals everyday. On the tube the way advertisements are placed, which ones have been placed next to each other. And people’s faces, people’s faces are so different. You put people side by side and side and that changes a person’s face in isolation. I’m going to stop because I can sense I will begin to ramble but I hope I’m communicating what I mean. I often use the example of a music video I saw. Dexter Navy’s Praise The Lord (Da Shine) shows many visuals of London’s council estates alongside New York’s housing projects and I love it and I can tell you for a fact if the video was shot in just one location I would’ve found it significantly worse and boring.

And then on a more personal note, my phone! I get to see so much stuff from my room it’s crazy. I spoke to my dad recently and was just telling him even if spent the rest of his life glued to his phone scrolling through images he won’t get to see as much as I will. I think this is cool, I know this has its issues but getting to see so many different images from everywhere is amazing and I don’t take it for granted. I mention this more eloquently in my artist bio.

If I had to give you a name I’d say artists Ebun Sodipo and R.I.P Germain have been on my mind for a while now and I don’t think they’ll be leaving. I’ve had the privilege to listen to them both speak about their art respectively and the way they approach art making and world building is awesome, they continue to leave me in awe.

How has having an affordable studio impacted your practice/what is it you like about having your studio?

I need distance between my home and a space where I create things. Finishing an art degree during Covid reinforced this. Having a studio is invaluable because, simply, it allows me to do one of my favourite things which is making 🙂 

Having it be affordable allows me to have a better relationship with my own creativity and time, I don’t feel that spine crushing pressure to be in the studio 24/7 because I can afford the space. This in turn leads to a more healthy, relaxed, pleasurable experience inside the studio and then better art. 

What are the challenges you face as an artist/designer/maker?

Honestly the biggest challenge was and probably will always be finding and being able to afford a space to make in. Once I have this everything that comes after is part and parcel of being an artist and I welcome this.  For example something like artist block or lacking inspiration for ideas or motivation to make work is very much to be expected and as I develop and grow as a creative person I’ll work through those things. But the bottom line is that it is a privilege to be able to get to that point, to be making art and struggling with exactly that. Gotta stay humble now! 

Where can we find your work?

At the Nunnery Café until the 18th of August. Go and see my work in the flesh! Also my Instagram @samuelcastroart


My practice is guided and influenced heavily by the overwhelm of images. From mapping my visual language and taste, to heavily informing my research methods and research itself, images are the foundation of everything creative I do. Whatever it may be, the things I make are directly tied to or even direct reproductions of images from my archives. I am interested in the movement of images and intensely curious about the relationship between one image and the next, seeing them in sequence, seeing them side by side, seeing them repeatedly. These encounters, when you add being able to rapidly consume, archive and edit them, become endless as well as consistently unique. The expansive journeys that images take to reach me are important because my practice then becomes an extension of this history. Instead of a picture being worth a thousand words, a picture is worth a thousand pictures.

My experience when encountering images has raised questions about repetition and memory and how it changes, particularly with the saturation of media online. Ideas informed by my research can sometimes show their face in my work, for example with a sustained focus on a particular image or subject matter but much of the time the jump from image and research to image and/or artwork is intuitive. Images filter through me and become art for me and my audience.