If Ryan Trecartin and Mary Katrantzou had a baby it would be trans-disciplinary artist Dom Sebastian. See how this next generation talent is burning boundariesOn The Up Microsoft
This profile is part of the On the Up series spotlighting the next generation doing great things to push London’s creative scene forward. In partnership with Microsoft’s most recent Windows upgrade, Windows 10, the series explores the past, present and future of eight trailblazing, tech-savvy artists
The last time we were in touch with the multi-talented Dom Sebastian, he was living in east London’s Whitechapel, studying Graphic Design in his first year at Central Saint Martins. By that point he had already made a name for himself, as a cyber-art sensation with a 40,000 strong tumblr following, hungry for the artist's net-nostalgic aesthetic, fruity still lifes and marble printed tees. Of course, “artist” has always been an umbrella term for Sebastian, whose creative output covers graphic design, fashion, photography and music. Now, ten months on, he still attends CSM, but has switched to a degree in Fashion Textiles, and lives in a leafier borough of north London: “it’s calmer there and I have a studio in my flat where I can better focus”. Good job too, because he has a lot going on:
“Even though I’m focussing more on fashion, I’m still working across different disciplines. Fashion is more than just the clothes – it’s the photography, advertising, packaging – and, for me, it’s important that there’s cohesion between all those elements. I’m interested in creating an entire world that people can step into.”
Deftly working across multiple mediums, Sebastian represents the ultimate 21st century creative who no longer confines him/herself to one discipline. He admits that digital technology and developments like Windows 10 allow him the speed and efficacy with which to feed his photography into graphic design, graphics into textile prints, and prints into Instagram posts. But, as his Reebok Fury Insta Pumps would suggest, his aesthetic is more nostalgic of Motorola flip phones, pastel-coloured Furbies, 80s video games and 90s baseball caps. Such popular cultural tropes are often the starting point for his creative strategy of “visual subversion” – a process that has seen him dryly appropriate the Evian logo with the word “Okay”, printed on sweatshirts and caps in a sell-out collection last year.
Sebastian’s trademark style of work has led him to design album covers for New York producer Hot Sugar and electronic band Bewilderbeast, while his bubble-gum pink visuals have recently found their way onto Format Skateboards. Earlier this year his graphic work also caught the attention of hyperreal artist Anny Wang, with whom he collaborated to create post-internet pictorial experiments that would sit happily in an FKA twigs video. And did we mention he is only 20? “I like that I can still develop my ideas at university while producing separate projects outside school”, he tells us, “although the other day my tutor was saying that he can still see links between all my work, which is good because that’s ultimately what I aim for.”
Most recently, Sebastian has been playing with layering digital images and scanned sketches in Photoshop in order to create visually explosive prints that revel in our hyper-mediated world – think early Mary Katrantzou meets Ryan Trecartin (plus a few furry animals). Using tools like colour correction, quick selection and patch tools, Sebastian explains, “Technology like Windows 10 allows me to push my ideas further experimentally and translate them over a range of mediums, blurring the lines between creative disciplines.” Asked where he thinks this is all heading, he responds “I’m not entirely sure yet, but in terms of the future for my work – and I think the future of creative work in general – is more crossovers and transdisciplinary approaches.” Sebastian is no doubt at the forefront of a generation adopting this networked way of working.
Here, Sebastian recommends a designer he admires for her boundary-pushing approach:
ALEXANDRA HACKETT / A.L.C.H (“@A_L_C_H_”)
“I’ve been following Alexandra’s work for a while and love the way she uses unorthodox materials such as bubble wrap, mailing bags and security tags to make garments. The idea of taking an everyday object or material and transforming it into something else is something I find really interesting – it challenges the notion that fashion can’t be sustainable.”
Sebastian is currently using Adobe Photoshop and Windows 10 on the Microsoft Surface 3 to manipulate the colours within this imagery. The Windows 10 upgrade is available to download free for a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC here