Illustrator Interview:  Sean Mahan


Sean Mahan has made the cover art for Lowpines single on EardrumsPop, and he has also made the artwork for his own upcoming single for his band Kids On Bikes on our label.

Sean Mahan is a social realist figurative painter who works with graphite and acrylic washes on wood to depict a sense of wonder about innate human sweetness. Recently, Sean’s work has shown at Gallery 5, Richmond; the Cummer Museum, Jacksonville; Subtext Gallery, San Diego; Display Gallery, Gainesville; Art Basil, Miami; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville; and the Brooklyn Collective, New York.

He currently is showing at Thinkspace Gallery, Los Angeles

This is our illustrator Interview with Sean Mahan:

Can you give us a description of yourself and your art?

I live in Neptune Beach, Florida where I have a studio space in the front of my house. I like to make figurative paintings with graphite and acrylic washes on wood to depict a sense of wonder about innate human sweetness.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a series of paintings of children on wood. I’m particularly interested in how a quiet inward pause is reflected in facial expression and how that expression reflects the gentle and empathic aspects of human nature.

How did you get started in the illustration/art field?

My dad is a great oil painter and he encouraged me and my sisters from an early age to make art and learn art history. I’ve been having fun painting ever since


Describe an average working day.

I usually paint from around 9-6 then go and skateboard the community bowl with the kids in my neighborhood or walk down to the beach and go surfing.

How did you develop your style? Is it different now than when you started?

I first started drawing and painting on wood about 15 years ago. I’ve always liked how the wood grain gives the paintings a
natural context, and how the graphite and acrylic stay translucent over the gain patterns.

What are your favourite tools?

I really love to draw with these aqua blue graphite pencils that I have

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. I also have some cool, really old paintbrushes that belonged to my grandmother that I still love to use everyday.

Please tell us about the process of making the Eardrums Pop-cover! Is this the way you usually work?

For the Lowpines cover I thought it would be fun to approach it sort of literally and include a pine tree that the girl in the painting could quietly interact with. I like to contrast a figure with an object to reveal a story about their similarities or differences. Also, I listened to Lowpines allot while painting it so that the music might shape it a little.

Who / what are your greatest visual inspirations?

I love and have always been inspired by Kathe Kollwitz’ printmaking. I think seeing her woodcut prints at a young age shaped my interest in art sharing a social narrative. Also, I am inspired by record art and really love doing it. I think its a really cool relationship – pairing art and music together.

Is music or other forms of art an inspiration? If so, what do you listen to?

Music is definitely an inspiration. Recently while painting I’ve been listening to the Tenniscoats/Pastels record, Erin Tobey, Daitro, Tiny Fireflies, OneOne, Sambassadeur, Onsind, Jeffery Lewis’ 12 Crass Songs, Morrissey, and bunches of other records.

What’s your favorite color?

My favorite color is the luminescent light bluish green that you see on the comb jellyfish that live near my house.
 What are your future plans? Any exciting things you are looking forward to?
Right now, I’m working with Erin Tobey on curating the Plan-it X Fest art show in Bloomington Indiana this month. After that,
I’ll be busy making paintings for a solo show next March and making songs for the forthcoming Kids On Bikes record set “77 Songs Of
Cycling”. Other than that, maybe a future art show somewhere in Norway?

What question and answer would you like to end this interview with?

The future plans question.