Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Creative Souls Artist Interview with Sean Phillips





Artist Interview with Sean Phillips / Collage Artist
Sean Phillips is a collage artist and graphic designer who was born and raised in Corpus Christi, TX, but now resides in Bakersfield, CA. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in graphic design from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. While he often works in graphic design, his true passion and artistic drive lies in the art of collage. To Sean, collage is playful and dramatic, even surreal and absurd. His focus is on creating works that are, often times, controversial but hold a sense of dark beauty with a vintage sense of design. Working with torn paper, scissors, and glue, he works to create art that speaks out to viewer, stirring emotions and thoughts to ideas that seem to take their place on the backburner of society.

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                                     Artist Playing Cards, Set #1. December, 2013

Are you self-taught?

I would really like to say that I am entirely self-taught. However, I have had an extensive
background in different art techniques. For as long as I can remember, I have been drawing or
painting something. Most often drawing. I would sit in my classes at school, daydreaming, and
drawing whatever came to mind. Most of the time, I would draw monsters or images of war.
When I was in middle school, I took art both years. I continued Art Education throughout high
school, completing up to an Art IV Honors class. That was the class that laid the foundation for
the art that I truly love to create; collage. We were told at the beginning of class that our 
assignments were totally up to us. We would have a "concentration" of media or style. That
"concentration" that you picked would all you would create throughout the class, turning in a
new piece of work every week. I picked collage. Later on, I attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where I obtained my Bachelors in Graphic Design in 2012. The Art Institute gave me
a lot of insight into the actual design process, color themes, and typography. I practiced graphic design for a while, but eventually found my way back to collage techniques. To make a really long story short, collage was something I was never taught. Collage comes freely to the artist. No one is responsible for showing me the process. I've studied it myself. Developed it through trial and error. I have created my own niche in my style.

Are you in love? Does that love help you create?

Love is a very wonderful thing. Yes, I am very much in love. I met the love of my life, my best friend, close to six years ago. Before I found her, I only thought I had been in love. She has changed my whole world. This love of ours, our beautiful relationship definitely puts the fire into my creativity. Never have I had someone who offers so much support for my work. She loves it. She helps me at times. She guides me. She inspires me. She is truly my biggest fan and my hero at the same time. And that feels really good; it keeps my fire burning.






What was the last movie you went to see?

Most of the time, we watch movies at home on Netflix. But, the last movie I actually went to see was, "The Devil's Due". Horror and supernatural are my go-to in movies. I absolutely love them! In fact, horror and the supernatural hold a lot of influence for me in my work.


                                         "Satanas" (closeup detail) July, 2014

What personally motivated you to begin creating?

I had honestly just come to a point where I felt inadequate. I felt like there has to be something more for me to offer this world. I have never been at a point where I am looking for fame from my artwork. But, I just wanted to matter. I want to leave a mark. If anything, for my children. I want their kids and their kids to know me, and what I was about; who I was.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I would really like to be able to say that I am only an artist. However, most of my jobs have been the likes of warehouse-type jobs; shipping and receiving. A lot of delivery jobs. In fact, at the time, I work for FedEx. Whatever pays the bills.


                                                         "Juliette" August, 2014

What do you dislike about the art world?

Oh, this is a great question. One of the main things that I can honestly say that I dislike about the art world right now is how competitive it is. We are in a time of technology (Photoshop, Illustrator, so many drawing apps, and photo manipulation apps, etc.). Where everyone has these amazing cell phones with all of these apps that do everything for you. Most of everyone truly believes that they are an artist or photographer, of sorts. And their work is everywhere. It clogs up blogs of all kinds. It is posted all over Facebook and such. And I'm not saying their work is bad, or just because it was created by technology, that it is bad. In fact, I love exploring all sorts of artwork and photography of all kinds. But there is so much. The art world is saturated. It's hard to stand out when you are drowning in a vast ocean of artwork of all kinds, displayed everywhere. The Cezanne's, Picasso's, Ansel Adams, and Van Gogh's of the world are there. Somewhere. I know it. But they are hard to find. They are lost. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best piece of advice I have ever been given, came from a man named Peter Steele, the lead singer of Type O Negative. I had many chances to meet him, and he was the greatest guy. Just so down to earth. We had been discussing a type of music that I was wanting to create. (I was a very active musician many years ago) I was younger and so worried about pleasing everyone else. I thought what everyone else would think of my actions or beliefs so much, that I hid them most of the time. Peter told me, "Forget everyone else! If they love you, they love you. They will be there for you in the end. You do for you! Do what makes you happy and what will make you the man that you want to be. The man that you want to present to the world. That is where you will be the happiest." From that point forward, I have tried with everything I have  to follow that advice. RIP Peter Steele. Thank you!






  Professionally, what’s your goal?

I would eventually like for my artwork to help provide a living for my family. But, I am honestly happy to say that I just enjoy doing it. Pieces of me, who I am, goes into each and every single piece. I just my work to be out there for people to enjoy.

                                    "Deep Conversations" September, 2013

What art do you most identify with?

I really love collage. Collage is my favorite art. I love the absurdity of it. I love when you see a piece and it's so ridiculous, it's genius. The surreal environments created get me. The often haunting imagery in collage is what drives me. I am a huge fan of the Dada movement. Anything surreal, rebellious, or controversial. I love art that makes the viewer think. It needs to move them, whether negatively or in a positive manner. I identify with art that makes you speak out, or shout out, for that matter; art that develops and inspires change and new ideas.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

I forget what age I was. Possibly somewhere between 4-6. My grandparents had come to visit. I loved them so much. When it was time for them to go back home, I asked my mom if I could go home with them. The answer was, "No." So I decided to leave the house and hide myself in the floor of the backseat of their car. I was going to run away, so to speak. The car started and began to move. I remember being so excited that it was working, and that I had not been caught yet. Meanwhile, my parents had began looking for me and
became so worried that they called the police. We made it to my grandparents house and I let them get out and get to the front door before letting myself out of the car. I didn't want to surprise them too quickly. I finally popped my head up and made my way out of the car. I went inside and they were so confused on how I got there. I told them I had been hiding in the backseat the whole time. My Mammaw immediately called my mom on the phone and said, "Are you missing someone?" They brought be back home. My mom was a wreck. The police were looking for me. I was in huge trouble. That is a story that my mom makes sure she tells anyone and everyone about me.


What themes do you pursue?

Most of the themes in my artwork are very dark and haunting imagery. I never sit down with a certain idea in mind though. I never know what will be created. I began to tear books, magazines, and paper apart. Ideas begin to flow, and my work comes to life. I like to use controversial images. These can include anatomy, gore, industrial and technical images, images of war, religious, anti-religious, and anti-government images. I also use quite a bit of the human form. Most of the work I create is a message to myself. Whether others can see it, I don't know. But most of them are my ideas and beliefs about society and where it's going. The wrongs that are done to people. The media. Everything that I feel is messed up in the world and needs a rebirth.


                                       "Andrea's Remorse" October, 2014

How many pieces of work do you produce in a year?

As of lately, it has been around 24-27 pieces a year. I would really like to increase this number drastically. I have been wanting to do one collage a day.

What would you consider your largest success to date in your art career?

Just staying consistent. Sticking with it. I consider myself successful if I can just consistently create more and more artwork. I just don't want to fall out of the loop. There are so many times I sit down to create something, and nothing comes. I get so frustrated. Often times, I just walk away. At times, it's been a couple of months of nothing. But, I come  around. Sometimes with something that even blows my mind. It makes me proud of myself, and I think that's important.




Which past and present artists do you admire?

Hannah Hoch and Raoul Hausmann are, hands down, my favorite artist. I mean, there is so much great work out there. But something about their work just really draws me in. I love the imagery. In fact, they were some of my biggest inspirations in what I wanted to do. I love the haphazard absurdity in their collage work. I love the darkness. I love the rebellion and everything it represents. Presently, one of my favorite artists is Maja Egli. To me, everything she does is golden. Her ability to manipulate portraits of people through torn strips of paper absolutely amazes me. Her color schemes and the images she uses...I have no words. Excellent work! Just genius! Please, look her up.


                                                "Mommy, Daddy!" September, 2013

What is your favorite piece that you have created so far?  (if so, do you have a photo?)

My favorite piece has to be a piece that I titled, "Mommy, Daddy!" What makes it my favorite piece, and not many know this, but it was created with the help of my daughter. She sat with me one night while I had begun working on it. She helped me pick out images that I wanted to use. She helped me with the ideas for
the content of it and helped me put it together. A lot of times, I don't think that she feels she did that much, but she did. I enjoyed our time together. I enjoyed that she wanted to help. I'm sure a lot of people don't feel that it is my strongest work. But, that is what makes it special, and makes it stand out to me.

Do you listen to music while creating? / Is music an influence on your work? if so what is your favorite

Absolutely! I always listen to music when I sit down to collage. The music always takes me to the place I need to go in my mind. I know it sounds weird, but there is this place inside of me where inspiration and creativity comes from. It is hard to explain. Possibly a deeper sense of my subconscious mind. If I sit in the quiet, nothing comes. So, yes. All of the time, I listen to music. My favorites are those that are extremely thought-provoking to me. I love poetic, dark music. I like complexity. A lot of my collages were made by listening to a group called HURT, especially their albums, Vol. I and Vol. II. I also constantly listen to and group called My Dying Bride. I love My Dying Bride. The lyrics, the music; it always gets me where I need to be to create. It inspires me and motivates me.




For you personally, do you feel the internet has had a positive or negative influence on your work?

I feel the internet has had a tremendous, positive impact and influence on my work. Because of the internet, I have had a chance to study and view many more styles. I have also been able to network with other artists, which I absolutely love doing. I've had a chance to work with and collaborate with a lot of other great collage artists. Because of the internet, especially social networking, my work has really got around. It always surprises me when I wake up some random morning and someone, somewhere is featuring my work on their blog or page. Or, I've seen my work as someone's cover photo on their Facebook page. It's odd and crazy at the same time. But, it feels good. It feels good to know that people are liking the artwork that I create. It motivates me. That is where I find I feel most successful at this point.

What good advice can you pass along, to emerging artists?

The best advice I can give, is the best advice I've received. Stay with it! Find your niche, and stick with it. Stay consistent with what you want to do. Forget about how you are going to please everyone and please
yourself. Someone will find you. In fact, many will find you and they will love what you are doing. Make friends and network your pieces with others as much as possible. Take every opportunity as much as possible with your work. If there is an opening in an exhibition, throw away the fears and take it. Even if you don't get picked, you tried. But eventually, someone will pick you, and it is one of the greatest feelings in the world. 


                                                   "Fallen Angel" June, 2012

What type of materials do you most love to create with?

I use a lot of various materials. I love classic and vintage magazines. I look for old McCall's magazines quite a bit. I use a lot of advertising, colored paper of various textures. Basically, anything I can get my hands on I use. I am constantly tearing up books and magazines. Sometimes I feel it's addicting; my constant search for materials. I find myself walking the sidewalk, or across a parking lot and I am always looking for pieces of paper on the ground. I'm always looking for anything I can use. It's odd, I know. But it works for me.

Why do you think people should buy handmade?

I know a lot of people like to purchase prints. Prints are good. But there is something so great about handmade artwork. It's real. You can feel how real it is when you are holding it in your hands. Artists put their heart and soul into the work they create. And I don't think a lot of people realize that and just take it for granted. My wife once explained to me, "I love when you find a really good fruit. And when you are eating it, you can taste the nature in it. You can taste the rain, the sunshine, the fruitful soil, and the Earth. You can taste exactly how it came to be." I feel it's the same idea with handmade artwork. When one buys a piece of handmade artwork, you are getting a physical piece of the artist's heart and soul. You can see and feel their time spent, their thoughts and emotions, their inspiration, their heart. It's all there. And it means something. It feels like you really have something. Something way more special than a print.

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