Starting from 2000, Sea released his flat colorful characters on the streets of Europe and in fascinating abandoned sites across Italy. His linear full-detailed style goes beyond real imagery, stretching to graphic design and experimentation. Those “big eyes” figures rise from a flat background where the words stop being meaningful in order to become decorative elements, a microcosm populated by characters that don’t belong anywhere; astonished, amazed, absent-minded expressions belonging to the artist’s imagination, that revisits examples from reality, leaving the audience with several interpretations. We reached Sea for a nice coffee break, during his hard working daily rut.
Hello Sea, I’d love to start this interview asking you what is your current mood in these days, and which are your plans for the summer season 2018?
Well, to be honest I feel quite upbeat and full of energy. The mood is good, and.. can you hear this? I literally can’t stop listening to Jamaican Reggae Superstars in these days..! I’m currently finalising a piece of work in collaboration with an association preventing gambling addiction, I’m planning on joining the Waral Urban Art Project for the second time and after that I’ll be taking part in “Vedo a Colori”, a festival taking place in Civitanova Marche. We’ll see what comes after that…
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of planning in general, I find it quite hard to sit down and do long-term planning. I know it would be helpful, but I am quite open to whatever comes about. That said, I do spend some time planning and refining the activities for new projects in advance, but without looking too far. I don’t want to kill my inner enthusiasm on planning.
Well, I have to say it, there isn’t any strong connection between my work and my mood… I’m able to focus better when something is bothering me or I’m grumpy. In this scenario, I feel free to express myself on drawing, especially when working on preliminary sketches for a project. On the other hand, my friends and relationships in general have shaped my art throughout the years. When I first met James Kalinda and Centina my style was quite neat, almost meticolous. Working closely with them has had a significant impact into my art, my style shortly became somewhat rough. When you paint with others, you end up being influenced and inspired by them, which is amazing. This is the essence of this “movement”, sharing both your work and your emotions whilst painting with others.
Since I was a child, I have always watched artists at work from behind, and I have always had the clear impression that while painting or sculpting they immediately became teenagers, completely isolated from the World in order to describe it. Do you recognize yourself in this description? Do you ever feel like you’re a teenager again while you’re painting?
I do. Although, I feel like I’ve lost most of that childish purity in the way I see things and life… My past experiences have deeply affected my painting. I now tend to look at the World out there through lenses, if it makes sense to you.
Oh girl, so long time ago! I can’t remember exactly what my thoughts and plans were at that time, but I was in the process of moving away from writing for some reasons and I was studying graphic design. Life was pretty good. It was a carefree period of time, I worked as a graphic designer for a few years until I quit my job and started my own business, focusing on my art. I got there in the end!
My work hasn’t changed dramatically over the years. It certainly has evolved along with myself. I’ve always wanted to have fun while painting for each new project. Indeed, I’m much more mature now as an artist, which affects every single decision I make. Undoubtedly, feeling more mature determines my daily choices, which doesn’t necessarily mean taking a different approach to art.
And what about now, what pushes you through your art, what’s the engine power of your motivation?
Having fun and enjoying what I do is fundamental to me and makes me moving forward. Drawing is therapeutic to me, although as selfish as it might sound, I paint because I like it, it makes me feel energised. No matter if I’m painting on paper or on a wall, it’s time to myself, i shut off from the World outside. That said, accomplishments spur you on and entice you not to give up.
Looking at what happened in your career over the years, what do you think your future developments may be? After hundreds of pieces is there still something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to? What would be your dream project? I mean theme, location, size …
Well, i’d like to paint a whole building instead of a single wall, I’d like to create a structured framework to be used when I paint at the docks. I love painting subjects related to the sea, old salts and especially their tattoos…
Your style is undeniably well recognizable, and when I meet artists so well defined I always wonder if they feel the need, at least once, to change their distinctive mark. Have you ever been assailed by the desire to completely upset your style?
You know, it’s pretty odd, I’ve been always looking for a trademark, and once you finally find it, you fear it might become a prison… My rational and gestural sides have always been fighting inside of me. Sometimes one overcomes the other, although I always strive to balance out, making them consistent. My great curiosity often leads me to think of creating an “alter ego” to explore new paths, as Japanese artists did in the past.
I would like to take a little trip in your pictorial obsessions, it has always struck me the vaguely “melancholy” gaze of your characters. It seems to me a look that conveys an inner peace or a way of looking at the World with a certain benevolence, as if your characters “forgive” our failures on repeat. Should I quit smoking?
Nope, or not at all at least! I quite like the way you’ve described my characters. “Inner peace” is exactly what I seek out when I draw, it’s like a therapy… I enjoy listening to other people’s interpretation of my work, interpretation which is usually quite different to my way of seeing it. The little absent-minded men are silent viewers of our times, they’re an attempt to mitigate all that craziness in our daily life.
What kind of relationship do you have with classical painting? Would you be able to insert your work, and the one made by other contemporary muralists, in a logical thread that starts from the great frescoes of the Renaissance age to the giant murals painted today on the streets?
Uhmm, really do not know if I have something in common with that period but I’ve always been fascinated by classical art. The structure behind a painting, the sinuosity of the shapes. I feel I still have a lot to learn from it.
Most of the artists claim to be original, saying something new or better than others. But looking at the infinite artistic production achieved so far is very hard not to find something mentioned earlier. I know it’s hard to admit, but if you had to choose one artist, who would you say, “Well, I took something from him, I’m in debit with him”?
I agree there aren’t many innovative artworks out there nowadays, just take a look at art books.. It’s definitely has to do with all the stimuli we’re bombarded with every day, millions of images and pictures – everything can be seen in a matter of minutes or seconds even, I’d say. I believe that having one or more artists to look up to is very common. Although, it is fundamental that one gets inspired by those artists, instead of merely copying their work. Phil Frost and Barry McGee have hugely influenced my style. I came across Phil Frost’s work for the first time while taking a wander in Covent Garden, London. I spotted these two characters painted on the outside wall of a skate shop. I got smitten: they were so cool, a mixture of spray paint and brush strokes, so sleek and full of energy. I couldn’t wait to get home and start painting! I discovered Berry McGee back in 2002, at an exhibition hosted by Fondazione Prada. His style is like poetry, so elegant!
Banksy’s “Girl and Balloon” recently sold at Sotheby’s for £345,000 but no one seems remotely surprised any longer if the contemporary street art scene can retain its status as a symbol of rebellion in light of its increasingly mainstream success. Do you think we can continue to live and sustain this paradoxical dualism or “art is art” and it makes no sense to distinguish museum art from street art?
Street art itself is a paradox, this dualism feeds it in a way. For me, “art is art”, then it’s up to each individual to decide what form of art to pursue. But every form of art has its own rules though. A form of art that is specific to a context might not fit within a different scenario. When it comes to street art, there isn’t much left out there.. Most of it is now called urban art and it is commissioned by festival, associations or individuals.
I’m sure there are people out there that took advantage of that! Just look at all those guys with no street background, they’ve used street art and big walls just to gain visibility. Visibility otherwise hard to achieve. All of the above has led to some sort of aesthetic flatness, having lost sophistication. The first wave of European street artists had a “writing” background. Their background helped them interact with the surrouding urban space in their very own ways, in terms of codes and materials, nonetheless with a style and a way of thinking that has been lost over the years.
Keep on travelling through your career, is there a precise moment in which you understood that things were changing for you? I mean, more attention to your works?
Not really. I just felt more confident at some point and brave enough to quit my job as a graphic designer to make a living out of my passion. It wasn’t back then – and still isn’t – an easy decision to make, although it has its rewards.
Well, I follow many artists, and I come across something interesting every day. On a bigger picture I think Blu is always a step ahead, but I really like Escif and Biancoshock’s work too.
I guess our time is ending, but to conclude, tell me something about your future, tell me what would you like to achieve as goals, in five months, and in five years from now.
My goal hasn’t changed over the years, I hope I can continue improving my art and I can live on drawing and painting every day.