Interview: Sean Closson

Name: Sean Closson

Website: http://sclosson.daportfolio.com/

I’m originally from a small town called Wiscasset, Maine where I spent my early days being that one kid who spent most of their free time drawing comic book super heroes and dinosaurs. Before I even went into high school I knew that I wanted to work in the arts and luckily my parents were very supportive and helped nurture my interests whenever they could. Before I graduated from high school I had already reached a personal goal I had set for myself of self-publishing a badly written indie comic and even managed to get a non-paying gig contributing my skills to a two part anthology comic benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund called “Occupational Hazards.” I did a pin-up illustration for their first issue and a six page comic for their second, their second book came out in stores in the fall of 2001, right when I went into college where I decided to broaden my horizons and study illustration rather than focus just on comics work. I graduated from Montserrat College of Art with a BFA in illustration and have been working towards a full time career ever since.

Sorry, but I have to ask this.. “How do you take your coffee?” and why?

So black that light cannot escape its surface and strong enough to fuel all night drawing sessions.

How did you find yourself as a full-time freelancer?

I had been working towards that goal since college, it wasn’t until recently when I became fed up with the rat race of trying to find dependable day job that I really started to put myself out there as a freelancer, once I started getting more and more work I realized that I could make as much money or more than I could working at any of the retail jobs I had been working.

At your art exhibits, what is the most popular question you get asked?

I would say the most common questions usually involve what my visual inspirations are. A lot of my work is thematically and visually inspired by old retro futuristic and pulp sci-fi illustrations, everything from all the way back to classic representations like that of Jules Verne to more modern takes like films from the 80s and 90s. I also draw some big inspirations from comics as well as the commercial Art Nouveau prints of artists like Aphonse Mucha.

Do you find your mostly creative at night or during the day?

I definitely seem to get a lot more work done at night, but I will sometimes have my best ideas during the day.

When you sit down to work on something, in your head do you see the final outcome, or sort of build on it as you go?

Usually I have a pretty good idea of how I want a project to come out in my head even before I begin the sketch phase, however some pieces are more of a building process than others and there are always those happy accidents that are unplanned but have great results.

If you could travel and work anywhere in the world, any particular places sticking out?

I think I would like a chance to visit and maybe do some work in Europe, I’m a huge art history buff and try to take as much inspiration as I can from classical sources and I think it would be awesome to be able see these things in person while working on my freelance jobs. In particular, France, Italy and Ireland all stick out as places I would love to live and work in.

Does it really rain all the time in Seattle?

It does rain a lot but most of what we get here isn’t really what I would consider rain, it’s more like mist than anything else. Although the weather moves through so fast that you could have five different forecasts for one day.

With being a freelancer, comes some standard Pros and Cons.. Any tips to someone looking to jump down the full-time freelance road?

One thing that I have found extremely helpful is spending a lot of time advertising myself as much as possible. I have ads on Craigslist and many other sites and use every social networking tool as a way to showcase my work and let the world know that I am available for hire, knowing your way around the internet is definitely a must in this day and age.

However; as important as getting the word out digitally is, I have also found it extremely helpful to be in an area where I can meet with clients in person whenever possible, especially when dealing with people who only have a rough idea of what they want, as it gives you a chance to sit down and brainstorm with them. Also, take as many opportunities as you can to get as many contacts as you can, business cards help if you happen to meet someone at an event who you think my help you get work, it never hurts to hand them out and get them from as many people as possible, even if it doesn’t lead to work directly it will get your name out there. Remember that the ultimate goal is to get people to find you for work not the other way around.


Best advice you can give to the aspiring concept artists reading this interview?

Persistence and patience are your two strongest tools, realize that it may take a while to get full time work, sometimes years and even when you do get work on a regular basis it will probably take a while to get the type of work you might specifically be looking for or that pays a lot of money. Don’t be afraid of taking on the small jobs while you wait for the big opportunities.

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2 Responses to “Interview: Sean Closson”
  1. Posts: 24
    vic robinson says:

    i go through about 250 business cards a week. its worth the money. insparational

    • Posts: 6
      Sean Closson says:

      If you are going through that many a week and you are getting jobs then I would say it is definitely worth the money, however I would make sure you are giving them out as strategically as possible. If you are participating in a show or event where your work is featured then business cards are a must, as is any event where people in an industry you are interested in are going to be at.

      Here in Seattle we have a ton of events both large and small, I have personally traded business cards at the Penny Arcade Expo and the after parties at the local bars that many of the developers and video game press attend. The after parties are especially good for approaching people in a disarmed setting where you can talk shop and they aren’t being payed to give you a corporate line about their product.

      Of course there are also plenty of small galleries and art collectives here that will offer plenty of opportunities for you to show your work (usually for free) and pass out those business cards and/or make an impression. It’s also good to give them to other artists, you might even be able to find yourself a weekly art group that you can join and gain valuable contacts at. I honestly wouldn’t have been as motivated as I have been if it weren’t for my finding out about a local sketch group called the Bureau of Drawers, I get together with them once a week at a local bar. We drink, draw and have a good time, and there are always people there who are more experienced than I am who I can go to with questions about where to look for work and what would be the best place to get prints of my work made.

      There are a ton of these sorts of groups in Seattle and other cities. Don’t worry if you are in a rural area or if you aren’t old enough to drink, the important thing is to get yourself in touch with other artists on a regular basis and to learn and have fun, if you can meet with them locally that would be best but online will work too as long as you are part of a community. After all, commercial arts may be competitive but that doesn’t mean that we can’t support each other.

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