• UO Interviews: Sean W. Spellman

    New England-native Sean W. Spellman turns to the open road as a source of inspiration for his minimal and naturalistic paintings. We caught up with Sean to talk about his various journeys back and forth across the country and how they influenced his unique works. 

    Who is Sean W. Spellman?
    Sean W. Spellman, that's me. I was alone in the woods on a great hike once and almost fell off a cliff, just barely caught myself sliding down the rocks at the last second, made me really appreciate some things. I hiked a couple miles out to the main road and got back to town in time to have a burger at a sushi place. 

    Your drawings are derived from your life on the road. When did you make your first trip across the country? 
    The first time I drove across the country was the summer I graduated high school.  Lot of firsts on that trip.

    When did you first start creating visual art? 
    I’ve been making visual art for years, only recently have I actually been showing it and doing it more publicly. And getting paid for it, which is nice.

    Your work reads like exercises in careful subtraction, how has your style developed over time? 
    Well, I'm not sure. The more I paint, and the more I see, the more comfortable I feel attempting to interpret different elements or images in life. Like most people, I have no formal background or education in visual art so its fun for me to be exposed to different artists and to try to understand what they are doing and how/why they are doing it.  Just discovering new things or places all the time is definitely developing my current style, constant changing it, subtly. 

    Do you ever get stuck in a creative rut with a piece, or does it all flow freely? 
    If I can't make something smoothly then I’ll ditch it. Or cover it up. Unlike songwriting, which is sometimes more of a process, I only paint or draw if I’m feeling like it. Maybe that will change if I start doing more commissions, but so far I haven’t been stuck in any ruts.

    You’ve driven across the country dozens of times now, which trip was the most memorable?
    Honestly, I have trouble remembering which things happened on which trip. The first time I crossed the country alone was life-changing. There was a moment on that trip where I was sharing a hot spring with some elk and then a bald eagle flew over. The next day I randomly ended up in a helicopter, thats worth remembering.  

    Have any suggestions for out-of-the-way spots we should hit on our next cross country road trip? 
    A quick list of places worth visiting:
    Orcas Island is a real beauty.
    Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe if you want to treat yourself.
    Food/drink-wise, my favorite bar in NYC is Sunny's in Red Hook.
    I like to eat at Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, RI when Im there and at POT in Los Angeles when Im out west. I like the Oyster Club in Mystic, CT, too.
    Camping deep in Los Padres is always a good call.
    Southern Rhode Island is wonderful if you're into the ocean.

    Did you set any personal goals for yourself for the new year?
    Yeah, to make as much art and music as possible, and to pay all my bills on time. I'd like to paint an airplane too but Im not sure how realistic that is.

    Where are you headed next? 
    I'm leaving Miami now to head to Austin for an art show. I'm going to stop in New Orleans first though, of course.

    You can follow Sean on Instagram and find his newest book, A Short Strange Trip, at his website

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