What’s up good people? It’s your boy, Trav Dave. I’m about to hit y’all with another great interview. This is one that is very special to me, I had a pleasure to befriend this guy all thanks to a good friend of ours, Ainslee. This guy has had an influence on me since ’07-’08 and I’ve been following his career ever since. Back in ’07, he was down with Sickamore and the whole Famous Firm Crew. These guys took marketing to a level thatI had never seen done for that age and time. Also, the fact that he is from Ohio, showed me that people from here could get out, network and make great things happen for them and their homies. He is currently stationed in Pittsburgh and I’m very grateful to have a chance to reconnect with him and talk to him about everything he has been doing since he left Ohio. Give it up one time for my man, Sean Beauford.
Q: You’ve been gone from Ohio for a while now and you’ve become a curator of art. What exactly does that mean you do? And how did you step into that profession?
A: To me, curate means to organize and present content. I curate art, but I also curate my culture, strategically and purposefully. My shows will be a presentation of artwork but also a presentation of elements that come from my culture, to honor it and present it to the masses in a respectable place, like an art gallery. People are more open minded to things presented in art galleries for some reason. If I put an image of a black boy posted on the corner in a music video, those that don’t understand dismiss it and assume he’s up to no good for no reason. But if I put that same image in an art gallery, people will ask questions and try to understand what lead that boy to this corner, or they’ll ask the artist why he’s on the corner – which is an opportunity for him to teach about our culture. I got into because I knew a bunch of visual artists that spoke my language and I wanted to give them more opportunities. I also wanted to enjoy myself more at art events, so instead of asking someone else to put together what I want to see, I did it myself. I never thought it would be a profession though.
Q: You’re not an artist in a sense that you draw or paint, but you do put shows together for artist right? Explain how you make that happen.
A: It usually starts from me wanting to say something or feeling like something needs to be said, or shown, or done. Then I think of artists that I know (or know of) that might be able to help me execute the idea, and I reach out to them and see if they’re down to collab. Then it’s a matter of making sure me and the artist are on the same page as far as our mission. Sometimes I’ll already have a gallery or space lined up, other times I’ll have to get one, which is never really that difficult, or it hasn’t been. As I grow, I’m more particular about the space I use for certain ideas. It has to have the right look and be in the right location. From there we just have to make sure people know about it.
Q: Do you feel like you have a special vision that helps you when you’re putting together your art shows?
A: I’m not sure if it’s special, but it is mine, which helps a lot because I know what I want to do. That sounds obvious but a lot of people are out here trying to carry out other people’s visions, which is very difficult. Because it’s from my mind and my heart, I’m more dedicated to it, and willing to endure whatever’s necessary to see it through.
Q: Tell everybody who Tinker Hatfield is and how he influenced you?
A: Tinker Hatfield is a legendary designer who went from being an architect to designing every Michael Jordan sneaker we care about and a bunch of other groundbreaking Nike shoes. I was never that big into sneakers so I didn’t think twice about the design, until I found out Tinker’s inspiration for some of his most famous Jordan’s. Those unfamiliar should definitely research but he had a knack for seeing great design in things like fighter jets and lawn mowers and putting those elements into sneakers like AJ5 and AJ11, respectively. Learning that blew my mind and it made me love his work, but it also showed me the importance of observation and inspiration and appreciating beauty in everything. There’s inspiration everywhere if you pay attention.
Q: Tell us about “The Other Side of Pop” and how it came about?
A: I didn’t feel like what’s typically presented as pop art and especially pop culture, connected with me and people who are of my culture. The things they most celebrate and reference aren’t relevant within my community. There’s this notion that for something to be verified as important, it has to cross over to mainstream, as if their approval matters to us. It doesn’t matter to me. I wanted to do a show about things that my people could connect to, and not just my people, but my generation. This is the Hip Hop generation. Whether you’re black, white, yellow or brown, if you’re born in the 80s, 90s, and especially 2000s, there’s a big part of your life, whether it’s music or fashion or entertainment that’s been influenced by Hip Hop, which is influenced by black culture. I wanted to give us a show that wasn’t about oppression.
Q: You also did a art show called “Poison”. How did you develop the idea behind that?
A: I wanted to document our generation’s relationship with drugs but I didn’t want to shame or be on some D.A.R.E stuff. As someone who has never done a drug in his life, I’m not into the stuff, but I have a lot of friends and loved ones who are, and I understand them. I wanted to show with art what this relationship has looked like for the past 30 years or so. Art should document the times. I also wanted to connect with people who aren’t into art at all, and to do that I needed to show something relatable.
Q: You have a beautiful daughter, Neon inspires you the most. How does seeing life through her eyes help you with new ideas for different shows?
A: Neon makes me want to be greater than I ever wanted to be. I want to make her proud and inspire her, and show her that she can do anything. I’ve heard that babies like bright colors so for the next two years or so, no matter the content of the show, I want it to be super bright so that she likes it lol. If Neon likes it, it’s a win no matter what. She has also inspired me to be aware of children’s relationship with art and art shows. They need something too. I really want to make family friendly shows, that are enjoyable for everyone from babies to great grandparents.
Q: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to Art and the whole movement?
A: My ultimate goal is to bring people together. For as much progress that we’ve made, it’s still easy to see that we as a society aren’t as together as we could be. I also want to get more young black people into the arts. We’re at a time where art is becoming trendy, which is okay as long it lasts and people really explore and learn about it. Everyone doesn’t need to be a painter but I think that an appreciation for art leads to the appreciation of so much more, and opens doors of creativity that we might not otherwise have come across.
Q: Let the people know what is next for the Sean Beauford?
A: Bigger, doper, more impactful collaborations. I have a few projects in the works but none that I can say too much about right now, as there are still some things that need to be confirmed. The Other Side of Pop will be on display until March 25th at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
Q: How and where can the people see all this wonderful art you work with?
Q: And how can they get a hold of you and/or follow your movement?
A: seanbeauford.com, @seanbeauford on Instagram and Twitter
Q: Lastly, do you have any special shout outs for anyone or group?
A: Shout out to Neon, who is the light of my life. And shout out to my brother Damien, who is doing great things for the city of Mansfield. He’s going to change that place for the better.
Interview by: Trav Dave
Edited by: Michelle Greenwell