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Sean Kelley is an artist / designer who designs and curates art exhibits in San Diego. Recently I interviewed him for my tutorial, Designers with Double Lives, for Graphics.com. He generously gave me more information than I could put in the tutorial. So I decided to post the rest of the interview here as inspiration for readers of Parallel Mind.

How did you get into design and art? Which came first for you?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a hybrid designer/artist, and I usually tend to ignore those labels anyhow. I was always an art nerd, but I grew up around my dad’s architecture studio so his thought process as a designer had a big impact on me (that and legos).

Is there anything special about your process?

Even if I am working with a 2-dimensional surface, I end up creating something more sculptural… A recent discovery of mine that was truly a happy mistake, was the rad texture created by using a power-sander after layering paper and acrylic on heavy.

How are you inspired?

By materials, by nature, by books, and by other artists/designers. I am constantly inspired by the creatives I know.

What is your artist\’s statement for your work at this point in your life?

I have very few goals with my current work; lose myself in experimental processes and materials, keep my eyeballs glued to the pavement for forgotten treasures, and establish world peace. I’ll be happy with 2 out of 3.

As an artist, do you work in one medium or in several? How does your choice affect your life?

Several. It’s almost always sculptural in some way, but it ranges from acrylic on panels to installation and living plant life. If the work requires a lot of space, smells nasty, or gets really messy, my wife gets pissed so I have to get creative with how I work.

My life is better now that I’ve discovered exhibition design.

Where do you work?

I work out of my home… but often I’m moving around and working on site for the events we put together. Our latest show was at Swiv Tackle Circus: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanctuary143/3470496778/

When is your best time to create?

I love working through the night on art… but I’ll often do design work in the early AM too. Really anytime it’s quiet.

Does your process on one side inform the process on the other?

I’ve been forcing myself to use more handdrawn type and illustration in my design work, but those weren’t a direct result of art I had already done. I guess the act of using a pencil and paper is something in the art side that is informing my design more and more.

What is the difference between design and art?

A designer constantly thinks of the audience. An artist doesn’t necessarily consider the audience. My work as a designer, especially in exhibition design has influenced my installation work, bringing the viewer’s experience to higher importance… This sharp attention to the viewer influenced my “Hustle” installation for Conspire, as I hoped to create a rich sensual experience of light, texture, and sound that could remove the viewer from the art event occurring around them and feel some shred of the moments documented through art/music from my life and the life of my conspirator Josh Shelton.

What wisdom could you give new artists and designers?

Don’t take yourself seriously. Just create.

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