For mixed-media artist Seek One, urban culture and street art have always played an important role in shaping his identity as an artist. Dating back to his early teenage years, Seek One found himself expressing his identity, viewpoints and vision through graffiti and thus, that’s how his artist persona was born. Now, as a full-time artist and entrepreneur, he has found himself in full control of his brand. Seek One grew up in a Victorian home just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but he often skated away from the suburban fantasy. He needed to be around the energy of an urban landscape, the noise of endless human activity, of the artwork he found under bridges, behind fences, on billboards; this all fed his urge to create. Indeed, urban and pop culture play a large role in Seek One’s work.
From a young age, his parents exposed him to icons like Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, and The Beatles. Using these figures and images, Seek One began to create a unique art style for himself which combines the timelessness of the past with the exciting trends of the present. In other words, he uses pop culture but creates work that is true to his urban background. Seek One carries himself with a passion and optimism that arches back from his entrepreneurial streak. He tends to use subjects that are considered icons as they have withstood the test of time. His work with legends like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe is about the marks that they’ve made in his journey that he can still connect with today. Now he channels such figures’ past fame into the present, connecting them not only with audiences but with the likes of basketball players Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons, reality TV personality “Foodgod” Jonathan Chabon, jeweller Richie Rich, actress Kaley Cuoco, and others, all of whom have commissioned or collected his work, a testament to Seek One having his fingers on the pulse of hype culture.
After a lot of soul searching, I decided to drop out of school, quit my job, and continue with the momentum I had built in the art world.
How did you get into the arts? Was it a career goal or did you stumble into it? How did your style evolve over time?
I started writing graffiti when I was in high school, growing up around the street skateboarding scene. I was always exposed to street art. Once I started my undergraduate degree in business, I drifted from art to focus on school. It wasn’t until I moved to Rome, Italy, for a semester abroad that I was reintroduced to street art. Living in Europe had a big influence in inspiring me to pick up where I had left off in art and design.
After returning to America, art remained as a hobby while I was working full time and attending graduate school for engineering. At that point, I had made an Instagram page for my art and was receiving attention from celebrities like Quavo from Migos and NBA stars like Kevin Durant. In addition to that, I was making money selling my work and doing custom commissions. I knew this was something special. After a lot of soul searching, I decided to drop out of school, quit my job, and continue with the momentum I had built in the art world.
Since then I have experimented in the mixed media realm. Being a self-taught artist, I’ve experimented with many processes including acrylics, oils, aerosol, wheat pastes, silk screening, and much more.
Photography is an important part of your work, what got you into it?
Growing up, I was obsessed with cameras. I had over 10 cameras from digital to 35mm to medium and large format film cameras. I loved capturing the moment, whether that be my friends and I skateboarding or just being on vacation with family. I even attended a summer camp at the University of Pennsylvania to study photography and film while in high school. I learned about some of the great photographers of this century and how to capture and develop my own film. I’ve maintained an attraction to photography and pop culture to this day, you can see this inspiration in most of my paintings.
What are your biggest inspirations to create?
I get a lot of inspiration from travelling, I am constantly on the road. Travelling the world and seeing different cultures has always been very interesting to me. You can also see a lot of nostalgic inspiration in my works as I often highlight pop culture icons and vintage periodicals.
Your work has been described as “mixed media” and it’s definitely not traditional contemporary artwork, so how would you define your art and style?
I would define my work as a mixture of contemporary art and street art. I think my style is very new to the art world as I am mixing so many things together, it doesn’t have a specific genre.
All of my works start on handmade wood panels which I make from scratch in my studio. From there I usually start with a layer of vintage newspaper or magazines then blend in layers of graffiti, acrylics, and oils. From there I typically incorporate a “wheatpaste” image and the focal point and add some more colors around it. Most of the works are then finished with an epoxy resin finish.
How does social media impact your work?
Social media had a huge impact on starting my career. When I started my Instagram account, it was a time when the platform wasn’t so regulated by algorithms and was more about sharing photography and art. At that point, you were able to gain tremendous exposure as a creative. Before I was represented by any galleries, this gave me a free outlet to share and sell my art. So much so that I was able to make a living off just selling my art on Instagram.
What’s next for you? Future projects or ideas you want to work on?
I’m currently working on expanding my reach to new markets through gallery partnerships. I am working towards being represented across the country and internationally by 2021. I’ve hired a PR team to help me with this while I focus on developing new art in my studio. My goal is to have my art available to as many people as possible.