No problem, man. Thank you for taking the time to chit chat! My history is somewhat brief as I’m still a youngin’. I first painted graffiti in Spring of 2013 under a bridge in my hometown. I had drawn some god awful “letters” beforehand for a few years just to kill time during high school. I am not affiliated with any crews. Just have a close group of brothers who I’m frequently painting with.
Do you make a full time living off of graffiti? If so can you tell us what that first gig was like and how you landed it?
I do not make a full time living off of graffiti. Nor do I plan to. However, I have been commissioned off and on to paint some stuff for businesses. The first big gig I painted was in the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Newfields) for an exhibition titled, “City as Canvas.” It’s a traveling art exhibition featuring photos and graffiti artworks collected by Martin Wong during the early golden years of graffiti in NYC. My buddy and I were commissioned to produce a mural inside of the museum to support the show. They reached out to us via one of our professors(Brame UA). Painting graffiti letters with your homie right down the hall from a Picasso Gallery = one of the trippiest moments as an artist i’ve experienced so far.
We just entered 2019, how was 2018 for you? Looking back what were your fondest memories of the year and your best piece, and do you have big plans for the year coming up?
2018 was awesome! I was able to travel more than I ever have before and met a lot of wonderful people. I don’t really have a favorite piece of 2018. In 2019 I have a pretty big trip planned that should garner some neat stuff to share. HINT, another American Accents Full Film.
It looks like you do a lot of abstract canvas graffiti pieces, how do you feel about graffiti in the gallery or museum? I know some people are against it, but I’m assuming this is part of how you make your living and spread your art correct? How successful has this side of your business been?
Thanks for noticing my works that aren’t just graffiti. I sure appreciate that, bud. When I took part in the City as Canvas exhibition, I was able to see how graffiti is displayed properly. Grounded in history. I think the history, evolution, and characters associated with how graffiti came into existence is important. This is why I began working in abstraction and testing out my artistic capabilities. My success in this regard has been rather small thus far, which is okay! It’s a completely new route from graffiti, and some folks aren’t used to seeing it. But I feel, in time, it may align me with some cool experiences/opportunities. Luckily, I work for an awesome company, full time, doing design work and they allow me time off to get busy! My boss was also a writer back in the 90’s too! Shoutout ZERO.
Who are your favorite artists in either fine art or graffiti today? Do you take a lot of inspiration from fine artists and abstract artists? By the way I love the frazetta piece you did, he was one of the greats.
Yes, I take a lot of inspiration from many artforms. I try to take note of artists who were/still are graffiti writers and what they’ve been able to accomplish. People like Felipe Pantone, Jarus, Remi-Rough, Tony “Rubin” Sjöman, Elliot O’Donnell, Charles & Janine Williams, and more. It is cool to see people pave their way, post-graffiti, and do the damn thing on huge scale. I pull a lot of inspiration from my Graphic Design background, as well as what art history I have learned and researched. Thanks for the note on that Frazetta piece! That wall was challenging! When my buddy Ziloe and I mentioned wanting to paint the Death Dealer, I remember both of us were like, “man… This one might be too hard to pull off. But if we did. Holy shit”. Fast forward, a full weekend in the blistering Milwaukee sun, and we managed to do a decent job I think!
Do you like collaborating with others or do you prefer doing your own thing?
I love collaborating with others. It can oftentimes be a very messy process, and some people get their feelings hurt, including mine sometimes. It is a delicate dance of each person’s egos, sensibilities, and ability to adapt as a creative unit. When you gel with people, it’s a beautiful thing. I do enjoy working alone when the time presents itself too.
For graffiti writers that are looking to grow and explore their style, what kind of advice can you give? Is there any particular exercise or practice that you’ve developed over the years that has helped you get to the level you’re at now?
I would say to look outside of graffiti for Inspiration. I pull a lot of my inspiration from abstract artwork, abstract music, people i’ve met, and experiences I’ve had. I would say sketch often, and start simple. No one just starts out and they’re a master of anything. I did straight letters for a full on year, and then over time my stuff self-formed into something that I love and can get loose with. Gotta learn to stay balanced before you can be doing street-long wheelies. haha.
What is your favorite brand of spray paint and why? What kind of arsenal do you take with you whenever you are about to hit a spot quick versus doing a more involved piece?
I’ve enjoyed a wide array of paints. I really like the Ironlak and Flame valve system. I usually take a handful of the caps I need. For quickies or even long pieces, I’m still trying to make the most of my time. So I’ll use an Astro fat to fill, and Level 1 skinny to outline. I currently still paint 98% of my works with rustoleum. If I have some money to drop on fancy paint from time to time, I’ll pick some obscure colors for outlines and use them for just that. But for the most part, I’m somewhat pressed on funds and tend to use what I can.
How do you think the internet has changed the nature of graffiti? Do you think it has been changed for the better or do you think it’s allowed a lot of people to bite off of one another without paying tribute?
I’m too young to know what graffiti was pre-internet. But I feel as though the internet has opened peoples minds to things other than what they experience alone and locally. Which I think is a good thing and a bad thing. You have to do the research to learn your local history. Being able to see and show your own vantage points in the world is a wonderful thing.
What is your favorite music to listen to when you paint?
If I’m with Ziloe, It’s Lamb of God, hahah. I don’t really have a go to music playlist when painting, but I’m into a lot of music outside of painting. I enjoy a lot of really abstract dark ambient music. Some metal, some trappin’ dark beats. Anything dark and gritty I tend to enjoy for some odd reason. Must be my inner angry Irishman connecting with agony and stress. Lol. If I can album drop some of my favorite albums, I would say, Tim Hecker – Virgins, William Basinski, Melancolia, The Contortionist – Exoplanet, Meshuggah – Obzen, Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here, Clams Casino – Instrumental Mixtapes, and more.
Any shoutouts you would like to give? Where can people follow you?
Big shout out to my little brother, Sean. Huge shoutout to my dudes I paint with often. Ziloe, Rejek, and others. Thanks to my girl for tolerating me painting all the time and helping me with colors. Much love and respect to all of those who I have crossed paths with over the years. You all know who you are are are immensely valued. IF YOU HAVEN’T, go watch “American Accents Prologue” on youtube. It’s a full length graffiti video of footage I shot and edited of my homies and I painting during the last couple years. Grab some popcorn and watch through it. (The graffiti gets better over time, the first couple pieces of mine are ultra rough. lollll) You can follow me on email@example.com, Facebookfirstname.lastname@example.org, twitter-@SavantSean, and check out my website seansavant.com for all my studio and abstract works. Cheers!