We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Kesterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sean, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
Trusting in the creative process. Outside of the beautiful world of working for yourself, there is a huge side of it that involves stress. Some days, that puzzle fits, and all the ideas flow like water. The reality is, most days are roadblocks hit with weird admin/business work with about 10% time to create. When you get that space to go into imagination land, sometimes the stars don’t align well. That’s when the creative process comes into to play. You just have to keep creating, even if there isn’t an end goal. That library of ideas has always come back and helped me in making decisions. It’s trusting in myself and the process.
Outside of my internal thoughts, a huge part is a community supporting me in these moves. Without that squad, Alimo is half-baked.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been drawing weird imagination land characters since I was a rugrat, but more so my art developed in college when I decided on my career path. Even still, that exploration in college is much different than what you see today. It’s an ever-expanding piece of work that tells a story in that time and place. Like a chapter in a book.
Today, I’m best known for my curvy post-pop imagery, highly saturated colors, vibrant hand-drawn letters, and worlds inhabited by figures arranged on flat tonal surfaces. My line-work blends both drawing and design with inspiration from the ocean to the mountains. The art can typically be seen on paintings, prints, and merchandise. I get inspiration from the outdoors, snowboarding, surfing, exploring, photography, hanging with friends, and anything that provokes creativity. I’ve recently been interested in the NFT world as an addition to my traditional mediums. That new frontier has launched last April 7th, 2022.
We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others
My art is different from others by my technique (I think). I mix both art and design with a process that you can’t tell if it’s hand-painted, screen printed, or digital. The truth is, it’s a mixture of tools that blend together to compose a story in time. Along with my technique, I strive for perspective. My work is very flat, but if you look deeper, more layers appear that build out a full environment from front to back. I love zooming in and pulling out to see the full landscape and all it has to offer.
what you are most proud of or excited about?
I’m super proud of all of my work. Some more than others. For me, the work is more milestones opposed to particular paintings. I’ll come up with an idea that conceptually needs more than one piece to complete. An example is my upcoming NFT snow collection. This pulls in 24 paintings that resemble a roll of film. It tells a story of a snowboarding trip with friends and all the fun in between. Stand alone, a viewer may relate to that image, but stacked next to one another can tell a story in any order. Those images may appear to be past, present, or future feelings that a viewer may relate to.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I went from amateur to pro once I started getting paid for work. Which is a weird thought. In retrospect, I sold art when I was 10 years old but would never think I was professional.
I think professional life happened after college. The glory days were over and it was time to prove yourself in the real world, which wasn’t easy. I started as a designer freelancing for different agencies. Almost all of my ideas never came to fruition, which bogged me down. In the beginning, you think it’s a competition with your coworkers on who has the best idea, so when your idea doesn’t get picked, you take that as an emotional rollercoaster. Being selfish, you don’t realize that it’s for the grander picture for that company. Those moments were hard in the beginning, but once you participate together as a collective, those ideas blossom into something great.
Those challenges and lessons rolled over into my work 100%. It’s realizing you need to have those moments to grow and get better. Again, trust the creative process. Keep making, keep doing.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I want the world to get a glimpse into my weird imagination and experiences I want them to feel nostalgia for the past, present, and future. I want my work to feel approachable and relatable to kids and adults, all with hopes to inspire folks to get outside to explore the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It depends on where I’m at. If I’m near the ocean, it’s packing up our gear, heading to the beach, and surfing with friends all day. In between sessions, kicking it, maybe a BBQ, drinking a few adult beverages, and just enjoying the scenery. If the waves were pumping, we’d be there all week. If not, explore around town, catch up on life, and enjoy the present.
If we’re near the mountains, then we are waking up at the crack of dawn and split boarding into the backcountry, snow camping for the week. If the conditions are super gnarly, then were camping in the van at night and explore all day for new zones. Love those moments
If we are in the city, I’m pulling out all the moves. We are walking all over, exploring districts, checking out art galleries, stores, eating all the good foods that I’m aware of, and trying to get all the friends together to make sure my friend is having a good time.
Hosting is fun and I honestly don’t get to do it very often. It’s typically the reverse where friends are hosting me and love it when I can flip the script.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to shout out all my family, friends, and of course the fans. Without this support, I’d have no success. Everyone saw me start at zero and we all rose together with the tide. Shoutout to you all beautiful people. Thank you!
Kyle Peters Sean Kesterson Lou & Grey (for mermaid gang sweatshirt)