We are glad to have the chance to get some time with artist Jeff Seaberg, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. To start, could you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Sure. I’m an artist focusing on the human condition. I’m fascinated by our existence and by our society. My work is a combination of scientific study and social critique. I view society as a biological system – as being alive. This is represented in my artwork through masses of organic and anatomical forms.
This imagery relates not only to our society but also to human physicality. I am very interested in the interrelationships between cosmology, cognitive science and technology all within the context of examining our society.
When did you first become interested in fine art?
Well, I’ve been drawing since I was very young. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. As a child, I’d draw page after page of these imaginary worlds and put them together into books. I guess I just never stopped drawing.
I believe creativity is inherent in all of us. At some point in most people’s lives, they let it go. I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment that nurtured and supported it.
When did you become interested in science & when did you start incorporating it into your artwork?
When I first entered my painting program in college, I was doing artwork that was basically political satire. It quickly got boring. I liked the provoking nature of the work, though, so I started asking myself how I could get a similar reaction but have it be more ambiguous.
I began using a lot of mechanical drawings and engineering blueprints as source material. Simultaneously, I started digging into books on microbiology. The resulting work started to have something to do with organic, biological matter clashing with technology and machinery.
That led to the concept of looking at society as if it were a living organism. All of these anatomical masses started emerging in the work. I then branched out and started looking at society within the context of the entire universe, as just one of countless living systems.
I started viewing the universe as being alive and I started comparing things like microbe colonies to galaxy clusters. At the same time, I was taking a class in astronomy, reading about the nature of time and the universe and it all just started to come together.
What kind of topics or issues do your paintings touch on?
Most of the work relates in some way to human physicality and to society. I am acutely aware of current events. The human species is responsible for a lot of ugliness out in the world and this comes into my paintings.
If we look at society as a living organism – is it growing? Is it dying and decaying? I see it as both; as being in a constant state of flux. There is also a tremendous amount of hope for the future in the advancements and accomplishments of humankind.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about space. I’m interested in consciousness and how it would look defined as a physical space. I’ve also been thinking about that in conjunction with how space-time is supposed to curve and turn in on itself. I’ve been doing a lot of drawings from that relationship.
I also recently came across the theory of Memetics (cultural ideas transmitted from person to person). According to this theory, the human mind is a host that becomes infected by memes starting with the development of language and continuing on to become a complex ecology that ultimately determines a person’s personality.
Do you conduct research for each painting?
I’m always researching and reading regardless of what I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll find something that’s particularly interesting that will start a piece off but my work usually develops as it progresses. A painting often gets its start with a few vague ideas floating around.
As it evolves, new ideas usually surface, which sometimes requires more research. The meaning of a piece can change dramatically from start to finish. This is a normal part of my process.
What media do you use for your paintings?
Watercolor, gouache, ink, pen, marker, acrylic, mediums, and found materials sometimes. I used an x-ray of my skull in one.
How long including research time does it take you to complete a work of art?
Could be a few days, sometimes weeks. Once in awhile it takes months or years. I don’t often come to the conclusion that something is finished. I am usually interested in something new by the time I stop working on it.
Is fine art how you earn your living?
I hope it will eventually be how I make all of my living. I have another job but art is my priority and focus.
What is the hardest part about being a professional artist?
Getting established, which is what I’m working on right now.
What is the best part about being a professional artist?
The freedom that comes along with following your passion.
Do you have any favorite websites or resources relating to your field ?
I have a few listed in the links section of my website jeffreyseaberg.com
I also really love StumbleUpon. It’s a social-bookmarking browser extension that lets you easily surf the web for any kind of content. I often use it to browse artist’s websites and science articles – but you never know what you might find.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
What I’ve learned so far is that you need to make great work and get it out there. Until you are able to get some kind of representation, you’re essentially self employed so you need to be very motivated. Networking is very important. Having a community of artists and peers around you and being involved also helps.
That wraps this up. We want to thank Jeff Seaberg and encourage you all to check out his website.