I was lucky enough to be interviewed for 123art.net
Here is that interview.
Hi, Sebastian! Tell us a few words about yourself. What does a typical day look like for? Do you just do art, or is art just part of the picture?
My typical day starts with letting my dog jeanie out, she shoots straight upstairs. My wife Catrin and I give her some fuss for a little bit then we all have breakfast together. Then around 8 I head into work. Art is just part of the picture. My “job” is an industrial upholsterer which means I upholster dentist chairs and sometimes barber chairs. That doesn’t mean I go straight into that though. If I’ve got art on my mind I’ll do some of that first then I’ll tackle a few chairs and flit back and forth through out the day. Some days I solely dedicate to artworks but I’m very lucky to be able to 2 things that I really love doing.
You say your career began when you’ve started working for top fashion brand SIBLING and then retraining as an upholsterer. What inspired you to change the course and transition into doing art?
As previously stated upholstery is my main task and I’m also still very interested in fashion. But art was a sort of therapy for me and also a way of filling a void. When I moved to Cardiff and started my business I was planning on starting a knitwear company. I ordered this new machine that was going to help with that but unfortunately the delivery of the machine kept on being pushed back and back and I didn’t have an outlet for my creativity. So I had all these ideas swirling around so I just started making art. Then 4 years later here I am an actual artist. I don’t know why I didn’t just go straight into art as I’ve been creative for as long as I can remember but life has a way of leading you down different paths. I’ve met lots of amazing people over the years so I don’t regret anything.
You say you’re using your past and history to recreate the feelings and emotions that you’ve felt at those times. Tell us more about that
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
it all starts with a good think. I just sit down somewhere and think about my life, think about things that are going on in the world, things that have happened to people I know, think about hobbies that I do and how I feel about all of the above. I think it’s important to be able to be alone with the thoughts in your head. If you’re not comfortable talking to yourself then how can you interact with other people. Whilst I’m thinking I write stuff in my notebook, or try and remember what I’m thinking about and then write in the notebook. The memory is sort of a working title but the pondering doesn’t stop there. When I’m walking the dog or when I’m on my skateboard I’ll dive back in and often the title will change to a word or phrase that I associate with that time but there’s times where it just stays the same. Occasionally I roughly plan out how I think the artwork is going to look but a lot of the time I start working on the canvas straight away. Laying down colours and painting intuitively. I like to mix paints. For example I’ll use an emulsion I bought from B&Q with an enamel paint. Then I’ll drop ink in the wet bits and see what that looks like. I try to be as expressive as I can be with the initial layer as that’s the foundation for the whole piece. That’s what sets the tone for me. If I don’t like the base layer then i’ll paint over it and start again. Then this is where the layers start coming in. Depending on what the piece is about really dictates how each layer looks. The layers are usually done with taping off sections of the artwork and laying down different colours and shapes. Again with loads of different paints and mediums. If I’m feeling it then I’m using it regardless of what it is. Then the final layer (which is probably the most important for the viewer) is designed. I used to use upholstery vinyl for the final layer but I have recently transitioned to using laser cut mdf. Its a lot more aesthetically pleasing and I think it also helps me get my message across. I’m able to use more intricate patterns and shapes and also I am able to paint it whatever colour I like rather than having to pick a vinyl that goes.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
My two all time favourite artists are Kandinsky and Gordon Walters. Both used colour and shape in very different ways but both in such interesting ways. One artist working today would have to be Callen Schaub. His technique is a performance which I love but also how much he can get from his technique. He has a few haters online and the way he deals with them is very humorous as well. I also love Michael de Feo Aka the flower guy. He’s been painting flowers around the world for a while now. I like the nod back to the old masters, painting vases with flowers but why not on a bill board or a bin. I think it’s amazing and I love doing art outside for the public. I haven’t done this for a while but I’ve got a few ideas. Also my friends and family. we gotta keep making memories together so I can keep making art. Without them I ain’t got nothing.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Trying to capture a feeling or moment can be difficult sometimes. i try and visualise that time and “get into” that memory. Also it’s important to take a step back and look. If I’m not feeling that time then how is anybody going to.
I did a couple of small artworks at the beginning of the year called ‘headache 1’ and ‘headache 2’. I hope when people look at those pieces they can see the ups and downs of the chronic headaches I was having. It transpired that I need a new prescription for my glasses. Everything is hunky dory now.
How has your art changed over the years?
When I first started doing art I used my knitting skills. I used to cover pallet wood in knit and put them up on lampposts and pylons around the place. That slowly morphed into bigger proper canvases. Then the pandemic hit. I had a lot of time on my hands because I wasn’t getting any chairs to upholster but I still had my studio so I ended up really looking at the art I was creating. I feel like I was trying to replicate
something. It was very beautiful but it lacked emotion and connection. That’s when I started to reminisce and use that as the starting point for my artworks.
Share some interesting facts about your art with us.
When I was putting covered pallet wood up a lady thought it was something for squirrels. She might not of understood that it was art but at least she was engaging with the piece.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
i’ve had a few commissions this year from people seeing my work in other places. They have liked it so much that they have had to get a piece which I think its really great. And it means a lot whenever somebody is interested in my art. i had some pieces up in Mexico and guy messaged me asking if he could take them down as keep them. That was really satisfying. Whenever people interact it’s really validating.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
The best way is through social media. Instagram has really changed the art world. You don’t have to have lots of shows and exhibitions to get your art out into the world which is good. I would love more exhibitions but it’s not the be all and end all. Also getting things out into the public. Its a little more stressful putting things up in places that you’re not technically meant to but I think its important to give things for free sometimes. I’ve done a few competitions over the years so if you keep your eyes out you could win some free art from me also.
What’s next for you?
I would love a solo exhibition. If I have to organise it myself then I will. I was planning on doing it this year but there’s still a few nerves (which I understand) because of the pandemic so I’m waiting until
they have completely gone. I want full commitment from the audience and right now I’m not sure that will happen with coronavirus still looming. I’m also taking part in a couple of fairs in the next year or so. Getting my art out into a different place should be excellent.
I’m always looking for innovative and interesting ways to get colours and paint onto a canvas and I think I’ve found that. So I will be doing that technique a lot more. I don’t wanna give much away so you’ll just have to follow me to see what it is.
How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Affected Artists
As art fairs, exhibitions and workshops have been put on hold during the multiple lockdowns, many artists have taken a financial hit as well as opportunities to grow. This has forced many to revaluate how to conduct their business moving forward.
The cultural and creative sectors make a huge footprint in the British economy as well as having a positive impact in other areas and yet so many of us feel completely abandoned as we have been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. With the government consistently dragging its feet on support for the self-employed in the UK, artists without gallery representation were particularly vulnerable.
One way many of us have adapted has been to strengthen our online presence. Whether this is through offering online coaching, ecommerce or creating workshops, it’s important to increase streams of revenue in a way that is lockdown proof. One aspect of this can be improving your social media presence through more frequent posting and ensuring consistency across all platforms as well as strong biographies on each one. Another is creating a website in order to sell your work or workshop spaces.
With most events cancelled, many artists have been able to focus on longer term projects or even experiment with new things entirely. Though not everyone has had this opportunity, COVID-19 has definitely opened up new chances to experiment or even just organise their spaces in order to make life and admin easier when the world reopens and we only wish this had been an option for everyone in the UK art space.
Though this year has been tough on all of us, all of the art community needs to come together to rebuild our industry in a way that’s better, more sustainable and truly collaborative.