Samantha Cox has previously worked in banking and sales, but everywhere she's been employed she’s always ended up having a creative role.
"My very first job I worked at Dairy Queen and I was the cake decorator. So it's always circled back around to art."
Growing up, Samantha Cox's family would often give her art supplies for birthday parties and holidays.
"I loved to draw, paint or color pictures of my family members, I think that definitely attributes to my passion for art."
While it's always been a passion, it wasn't until recently that she made it her career.
"I have a really great friend in Springfield and she's an artist. She’s been trying to get me to do this for years," Cox said. "Every time I would change jobs she's just like 'Be an artist, just go full-time!' but my response was always 'I can't'"
Samantha's friend is Andrea Ehrhardt, well-known for her signature wing paintings throughout the Ozarks. According to Cox, "She is my official mentor. We've been friends for eight years and when she started painting I was her biggest cheerleader. It only makes sense that she’s helped kickstart my career."
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Cox said she had a great job in Springfield. However, being laid off is what ultimately led to pursuing her dream job.
"I was just at home, I had nothing to do and so when Andrea asked me to join her for a job, I finally did," Cox explained. "Next thing I know, we got the Marshfield mural job, which skyrocketed everything for me."
The GRO Marshfield Beautification Committee commissioned the "Welcome to Marshfield" mural on Spur Drive. The piece took over 100 hours to paint after two years of planning on the Committee’s side. They contacted Ehrhardt, who then recruited Cox.
"Any chance Andrea would get to try to make me go full-time, she took,” Cox laughed. "So she calls me and she's like, 'Hey, so there's this mural in Marshfield, do you want to do it?' and everything rolled from there."
As a Webster County native, the opportunity to create lifelong works of art right in her own community meant a lot to her.
"My hope is that when someone drives down the Spur and sees all the cherry blossoms and the classic car, it takes them out of their current life for a moment. And that's going to be there forever. That's why I want to do this. That's why I absolutely love doing this. For what I'm giving to everyone else," she said.
Prior to the mural on the Spur, Cox had worked on four or five murals. Since then, her business has been booming.
"Something about COVID made me take the risk and so far I've been so busy I can't see. It's really cool to have to rely on yourself — to believe in yourself enough to be successful," said Cox. "Because there was always that fear, it was the one thing that held me back most. Taking that risk and just diving into it headfirst is just the coolest feeling."
Her paintings have been seen in Bolivar, Lebanon, Seymour, Springfield, Willard, and of course, Marshfield. She has quite the portfolio for the short time she's been a full-time artist, but it’s no surprise considering her motivation.
"A gym in Springfield contacted me on a Wednesday and needed four murals completed by Friday. So I worked 14-hour days," Cox said.
"That kind of thing just flies by for me, I could be painting all day and look down at the clock and be like oh, it's 5 o'clock, I should eat! But that's just how you know you're doing what you love. It does not feel like work."
Her work can be seen on her Facebook page, Art by Samantha Cox. Samantha also showcases her talents on TikTok and Instagram @artbysamanthacox.
"My art is going to be here for a long time. If it can put a smile on someone's face and that be the only time they smile all day, that’s amazing to me."