We knew from the first moment we laid eyes on Alimo prints that we absolutely had to carry them in our shop - and that was before we got to know the man behind the brand. Well, let us just say there are kindred spirits and then there are KINDRED SPIRITS. Not only is Sean creative, free-spirited, and friendly, he's a fellow lover of the ocean and has some pretty rad sustainability practices behind his business. We are so thrilled to share Sean Kesterson's work with Charleston and hope that you enjoy getting to know him through this Q&A as much as we have.
Tell us a little bit about your process: where do you find inspiration, how do your pieces take shape and become the final product?
I’ve always been attracted to some sort of invention. When you think of an invention, you think of an image in your head. So when I was a rugrat, I’d found myself constantly lost in imagery. I’d have crayons and colored pencils where I’d draw my imagination and invent weird characters with four arms...stuff like that. It blew my mind that whatever my thought was creating, I could use pencils or any tool to replicate it. I have always felt that I am spitting back what I consume. Not necessarily a four armed creature, but a common language I was sold to when I was a kid. Those times had incredible marketing that was really visual and influenced by skateboarding and snowboarding for me.
Pieces take shape with a lot of reworking of ideas. Both visually and in words. I keep a notebook of all of my thoughts so when I’m ready to sit down and draw, I’ll pull inspiration from language I wrote in the past. These ideas may be brewing for a day or even years. A bit like a library to pull resources from. Gradually, I’ll sketch those ideas onto paper, scan into the computer to get the right composition, then redraw out to tangible form, such as wood to paint on.
When I’m feeling writer’s block, I’ll head to the library, or simply go outside for inspiration. I like the outdoors a lot and enjoy surfing and snowboarding as much as I can, along with lots of travel with friends and family. I also love taking photography to keep the engine churning to help spark that next idea.
Your work is super playful and gives us all the good vibes. What’s your best advice for “staying rad” in your day-to-day?
For me, it’s living life like my ‘5 year old self’ did when I was kid. That’s exploring and soaking up life to its fullest. Getting outside, hanging with friends, and traveling to see the new with an open mind while asking lots of questions. It’s mainly, getting out of the groundhog day of doing the same thing everyday. Simple things like walking across the street to see that different perspective of the house you’ve never seen or biking to a destination without a map. That’s the new that a 5 year old gets to experience while growing up. That’s what I aspire to continually have.
Our motto is “the coast is clear '' because we try to make every day at the shop feel like the perfect beach day (plus, we like that it sounds like we’re up to something mischievous). If you had a motto, what would it be?
That's really cool. For me it’s ‘stay rad’. There's a lot of folks out there that seem to be riled up by wackness, which is the easy move and less fun. It happens to all of us. I like to keep my chin up, ask a lot of questions, and think of the positive. It’s hard to not have a smile on your face when you’re surrounded by the nature we have in this world. I’m lucky enough to see the ocean minutes away which brings in that easy reset for high stoke.
When we look at your artwork in our shop, we’re immediately transported to the California coast. If you could be transported anywhere right now, where would you go?
That’s a tough one! First place to mind is Morocco or Spain. Simple lifestyle, warm weather, good vibes!
What’s been your favorite surf spot to-date?
Oh man that’s a tough question. Favorite spot to date is Chicama, Peru. It’s a journey to get to and when you arrive, you’re in a half built village with little to do except surf the longest wave of your life. You wake up, hike to the point, jump in the water with your friends and say ‘see you at dinner!’. The rides are so long (about 2km) the only times you see your friends is when you’re in the ocean and see them in the distance running up the beach to the point. You surf your brains out, sleep at 8pm, and do it again. It rules so much. If you can find the zone, go there.
What are your go-to coffee shops in San Francisco?
Hard question as there are so many in SF. I bounce around quite a bit from district to district but I’d say the top 3 are Vinyl, Andytown, and Flywheel. All ripe flavors of coffee that pipe you up for a surf session or when you need to crank the gears to get some work done.
Sightsee is all about travel and adventure -- any travel plans for 2020? Where/why?
I just recently got back from a long trip out in Thailand with the fam and then branched off to snowboard in Japan with friends for a few weeks. 2020 came out firing! That trip was everything I needed. A solid reset and overwhelming amounts of inspiration for myself and upcoming projects. I actually shut the whole shop down to give myself that break and to clear my mind.
For the next few months, I’ll be hanging out locally prepping for the art fair, West Coast Craft in June. After the show, I have some plans brewing to head out to Spain and Portugal to check out some factories (work wise), Mexico surf trip I do annually with friends, and then hopefully back out to Asia. It’s a lot of juggling around running a studio by myself, but without travel and adventure, I’m a complete slob. I need that yin and yang to keep my happiness lifestyle at a high.