Sam Dillemans started painting at a young age, after seeing the work of Vincent van Gogh in 1979. Between 1984 and 1991 he attended seven different art academies, two of which were in Northern France (Tourcoing and Lille) and obtained a diploma at the Art Academy (Institut national supérieur d’expression plastique, option art) in Tourcoing.
He attended four years of academy in Leuven, where he focused exclusively on drawing. His study materials were plaster statues, the anatomy of Paul Richer and copies of old masters. Dillemans developed his own expressive drawing and painting style in which he mainly paints portraits and self-portraits with coarse brushstrokes.