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By Rebecca• 1 Dec 2017
Sean Duffell might not be a native to the Creative Capital, but it's a place he's come to love – a place he and his punchy intensely-hued designs have made themselves very much at home. This graphic designer turned fulltime spraycan-wielding street muralist can testify to adorning endless walls across New Zealand (and the world) with his bold artworks. Sean is also one of five local artists who have contributed to this year's Wellington Advent Calendar design. He shares his thoughts on creative career paths, advent calendars, and whiling away the summer days in Welly.
Have you always made art for a living? If not what motivated you to take the plunge fulltime?
I've always sketched, doodled, drawn throughout my life. When I moved to Welly in 2010 I was working as a graphic designer, but slowly my personal work took over the day job. "Plunge" is definitely the right word – it was absolutely terrifying leaving a secure job for the unknown but also extremely exciting. It’s been four hard but very rewarding years of being out on my own doing this thing.
What or who inspires your artistic style?
The macro worlds of nature and the patterns that exist within these macro worlds were my initial inspiration for my pattern work, as well as just using my imagination. As times goes on, my inspiration has definitely moved to travelling, meeting new people, and exploring more places. Lately, I've spent more time researching the history of said places to have a greater knowledge of the past and gain a deeper understanding of who we are and what has shaped us into who and what we are today – this really fascinates me.
What has it been like to be involved in the advent campaign?
It was fun to paint out on the harbour. This was definitely new to me and it was quite a unique feeling to paint next to the sea. Cool campaign thanks, WREDA! It was great to work on a project that encompasses Wellington, as I really feel Welly has become my home over the last few years (sorry Dunedin, but I definitely still love you too).
It was fun to paint out on the harbour. This was definitely new to me and it was quite a unique feeling to paint next to the sea
Tell us a little bit about your advent artwork...
As I said before, painting next to the sea had a really nice vibe to it and was probably why I completed my piece in just one day. It was really relaxed and I had some fun. I'm unsure which element was a favourite... I just like the wall as a whole really.
What's your advice for young creatives in Wellington seeking to go fulltime?
Work hard, love what you do, really think about what you're doing and how it can work for you. Even when it seems nothing's working, keep working through it! Artist’s block is just a block imposed by the artist. Get out there, meet people, see things, explore. Keep up the persistence, determination and a positive outlook.
What’s your favourite summer escape from the city?
Just exploring everywhere. I have a plethora of little hidden places I like to venture to – up in the hills and into the bush – but I can’t divulge my secrets. Welly has an abundance of awesome spots everywhere – I’m sure we all have our favourites whether it’s out amongst nature, exploring bunkers, or lying on a beach.
What are your top three offbeat summer must-do activities or attractions?
Walks and hikes when I have the time. The Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay walk is a goody. I tend not to plan and just do it when the time arises. I do have to catch Coastella this year though and one day I'll get a bike and hit the trails around Wellington – I’ve heard they’re amazing.
Tell us about the three best pursuits to keep kids occupied on sunny days around Wellington... Or if you were a kid, what would you do to keep yourself occupied?
Put a small GPS tracker on the kids send them into the bush to explore caves, eat wild berries, make bows and arrows, build forts and catch lobsters (Captain Fantastic or Swiss Army-man styles). But seriously, the Carter Observatory is amazing and the Attic, as well as *of course* Te Papa (let 'em loose in there and you’ll definitely need that GPS tracker). On the sunny days, just get out there – Makara, Scorching Bay, Seatoun, Island Bay...all the beaches.
Name your three favourite outdoor drinking and/or dining spots around the city and tell us why you love them so...
I tend to cook at home every night so I generally just snack around town at Gipsy Kitchen, Milk Crate, Black Coffee, Deluxe, Pour & Twist at The Courtyard.. and of course drink whiskey at the Hawthorn Lounge.
The Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar is back for 2017! Every day in the lead up to Christmas a new treat awaits you, each tucked behind a festive door for you to discover. Find out more about the other artists involved.