Seek One is a contemporary street artist based in Philadelphia who blends graffiti culture with timeless cultural icons. As a teenager, Seek One acted as a traditional graffiti artist, tagging buildings and such. He then decided to pursue a business and fine arts degree to take his craft more seriously. Since, his work has caught the attention of many big names who have turned into customers – including Quavo, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Jonathan Chabon, and more. His most recent project, “Roses for Relief” consisted of selling prints of the work shown above and donating 100% of the proceeds to Philadelphia’s COVID19 relief fund. Check out Seek One’s work below, and read our interview with him that follows.
Can you describe the process of creating one of your works?
By definition my works are considered mixed media, this refers to multiple mediums blended and layered to create one image. All of my works start on hand made wood panels which I construct in my studio. The first layer is always vintage magazines or newspapers as a base. From there I apply a mixture of spray paint, oils, acrylics and printed images which end up as a piece of fine art. My works are usually finished with epoxy resin as well.
How do you choose which pop culture icons to depict in a piece? Are they people you look up to?
My works aren’t always just pop icons, sometimes they can be as simple as a Dom Perignon label or Converse shoe. However, when I do select people for a portrait piece they usually have some impact on my life. For example, I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra so naturally I’ve done many paintings of him. This brings a sense of nostalgia.
How has your work evolved since you first started making art?
My work has rapidly progressed through a few different stages. I first started as a skateboarding graffiti artist and photographer. Soon enough I got trouble doing graffiti which forced me to transition to canvas. From that point, I have experimented with hand painting entire pieces, using silk screen processes, acrylic transfers and wheat pastes all while mixing in different mediums such as oils, acrylics, spray paint, etc.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an artist so far?
For me the most rewarding experience is seeing people’s reaction to my work. I also enjoy giving my work to charities to help raise money. It’s amazing to me that my paintings have raised thousands of dollars to help notable causes.
As an accomplished young artist, what advice would you give to upcoming artists who are trying to make it big?
Stay focused on creating your own style, don’t copy another artist. It’s okay to take bits of inspiration from another artist, but you need to work on expanding and making it your own style. There is more value in something unique than something generic.
Also, spending time on networking and getting connections with collectors and galleries is just as important as painting in my opinion. If you can’t pay the bills from selling your art, you’ll wind up being forced into another job.
What is your biggest goal as an artist? What do you hope to achieve over the course of your career?
My goal is to have my art to make people happy and take them mentally to another place when they see it. Being able to create art with an impact has always been my goal.
From a business standpoint, my objective is to push my art into galleries worldwide. I’m currently spreading through the United States, but would like to expand further in the future.
How would you like to see Philadelphia grow as a hub for art? What do you see as the current strengths and weaknesses of the city in terms of supporting art?
I think Philly has a strong art presence. It would be cool to see more innovative galleries open as the city grows. The Mural Arts program is a huge strength for the art scene in the city.
How has COVID-19 affected your work and process?
COVID-19 has not really affected me at all. I work alone most of the time, so social distancing isn’t a problem. I also sell a lot of my works online so I can still pay the bills.
The only downside has been all of my galleries closing. It is hard to sell high-priced art without seeing it in person. I’m hoping they allow them to reopen soon.
Could you elaborate on your inspiration behind your Roses for Relief project?
There have been so many people impacted by COVID19 and since I was still able to work I thought of this as a way to use my business to give back. I created a painting with a positive vibe and released it as print on my website. From there I donated 100% of the proceed to the PHL COVID19 fund.