Artist Interview: Sean Bernhardt

Sean Bernhardt is a 20 years old student/artist out of Monmouth County, New Jersey. He started making art from a young age and figured early on that art was really his passion around 8th grade. Initially he worked in mostly pastels/colored pencils, drawing landscapes. He later transitioned into mixed media by using salvaged objects and gluing them to the canvas. Mixed media gave Sean a chance to really throw in his mix of things and showed him that not everything needs to be perfect, which is why art can be an outlet for inspiration.

When did you start surfing? Do you remember your first wave?

I started surfing when I was about 10 years old, but always would stand on my boogie-board at a young age. I will always remember my first time out in the water.

When did you decide you wanted to be an artist? Is it a full time gig for you, or something you work on during your off time?

It wasn’t until about 8th grade of elementary school when I realized art was something that I really wanted to keep doing. I always drew on everything as a child, which may also be a reason. I mostly work during my off time when I’m not in class or out surfing. I do as much work as I can when I’m free.

Why art? Why not something else?

I chose art because of expression and that it gives people a chance to see how I see things. I don’t see myself doing anything else. I’ll be happy just painting and living my life simple. I don’t want to be a businessman or anything like that.

Where do you look for inspiration for you art? What about in surfing?

Inspiration comes from everything for me. It can be something really simple and I will add on by piecing things together, not really starting off with a plan. I get inspired surfing when I see others raising the bar or just cruising on a wave having a good time. Surfing is a really good way to be creative as well.

How does surfing influence your art?

Surfing influences my art by making me look at things differently no matter what piece I am working on. When I surf I like to think about how waves are not always the same, just like how my work can go from being really basic to very intricate, but still has the same feel and look.

Describe your style. And what’s your process?

My style is mixed media/collage. The way I work varies. Sometimes I will sketch out what I want to lay out, other times I will just go with different pieces that I find interesting, depending on shape and color. I like to look through an old magazine after I’ve cut out certain things and look at the shapes that can be formed and turn it into something. I mostly work in acrylic and combine watercolor, ink, paint pen, and old magazine clippings.

What types of art do you enjoy the most? Is there one in particular that you find yourself sticking you or is variety your spice of life?

I’m a big fan of street art, collage, and illustration. I feel like I will always bounce around with my work, but always be focused on getting the message out with these types of art forms. Each are very similar and work well together.

Where can someone find your work or may recognize it from?

I have work in a few local shops and stores around my town. People may recognize my work from Flickr or from shows I’ve been in recently. You can check out my work on Facebook.

Being from Jersey, do you feel that you have more access to artist culture outside of surfing? And how does that influence your work?

I feel that being from New Jersey, as an artist is different because where I live there really is no scene for the type of work I like to make. It influences my work by making me create pieces that nobody has seen around my area. I like to see people really taking the time to look at every little detail in my work.

What’s next for Sean Bernhardt?

I have a few projects I will be working on. I’m going to launch a series of gray-scaled collage tees and hopefully get some snap-back hats made up. I will also have a ton of new work to showcase for 2012.

To stay up to date with Sean’s work, follow him on Flickr or Facebook.

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