Playlist by Sean Patrick Watroba
Today’s playlist comes from Boston-based artist and illustrator, Sean Patrick Watroba. I first spotted Sean’s work at Refuge Cafe in Allston, where his depictions of childish fun infected by adult fears poked at my insides. I caught up with Sean to learn more about his art, inspiration and what he listens to when he is getting things done. Sean is August’s Featured Artist at Dudley Cafe in Boston.
Spark & Fizz: So what kind of music do you like to have in the background while you work?
Sean: I tend to gravitate towards instrumental music when I’m working on my art. Records with long, drawn-out tracks and repetitive elements tend to help me focus in on whatever particular painting or illustration I’m working on. The genre will vary on the day or my mood, but the main thing for me is being able to put on a record and sort of forget that it’s playing, and focus on what I’m doing on the paper in front of me.
S&F: How long have you lived in Boston?
Sean: I’ve lived in Boston for just over 4 years now.
S&F: Do you think Boston is more or less supportive of its artists compared to other cities you have lived in?
Sean: Outside of Boston, the Amherst area is the closest thing to a city that I’ve lived in. There was a great DIY music and art scene there, but just like anywhere (including Boston) it’s because there was a group of really great people dedicated to building something meaningful. In my experience, the art/music scene in Boston is alive and well. I’m constantly meeting so many talented people here who share a passion for creativity. Of course DIY spots come and go and rent goes up, which makes everything tougher, but that happens everywhere. I think it’s a great time to be here.
S&F: Is a making art your full time job?
Sean: For the better part of this year, making art has been my full time job. I’ve been drawing and painting forever just because I love it. It’s therapeutic. I never had any expectation of any real income coming out of it, that just sort of happened. I had a lot of people encouraging me to start making prints and stuff, and once I started putting those out in the world, the response was and continues to be really positive. I’m incredibly grateful.
S&F: That’s rad! Do you produce your own pins/prints?
Sean: All of the buttons, shirts, and screen-prints are made by hand by me. I can’t really imagine not being involved in the process of making those things. To me, it’s a lot more meaningful getting an item from an artist when you know that they’re directly involved in the entire process. Like when bands put out their own records, or print their own shirts. It’s putting time and effort into something that you believe in. There are times that the repetition of making pins or prints or whatever can get really tedious, but in the end I think it’s worth it.
S&F: Who are some artists, visual or otherwise, that you look up to?
Sean: Ever since I first saw the Toy Machine video “Welcome to Hell” as a kid I was really drawn to Ed Templeton. His artwork, photography, and skating inspired me and continues to do so. I’m also a fan of Neck Face and similar graffiti artists with the sort of “let’s bum everyone out” mentality. Jeremy Fish is another one. I’m drawn to artists that don’t limit themselves to one medium and aren’t confined by one particular genre.
S&F: What inspires your art?
Sean: I started drawing the aging game systems/appliances/etc. just as a comment on how I feel in my late 20’s looking back on these things that defined our childhoods, and how that nostalgic feeling is often much more bleak than the “good old days” sort of reminiscing.