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Rising Stars: Meet Sean Badock

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sean Badock.

Hi Sean, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Been doing art since I was young. Did a lot in high school. Got better. Started doing commissions. Started my own website and designs other things. Creating is my favorite thing. I do oil painting, pencil, charcoal, photography, woodworking, just started into tattooing.

When I was growing up, I was mostly into being outside and playing sports. The ideal job when growing up was to be a professional athlete (that did not work out). When I was not playing sports, I found that I enjoyed creating things and making things. I remember enjoying art classes, making things and doing all types of projects. I specifically remember being in preschool and making art and being so excited to just give it to someone once I was finished.

As I progressed through school, I always enjoyed art classes and my parents supported me in whatever I found interest in. We used to have volunteers that would spend time and show us art pieces from different artists throughout the school year and I always remember being really interested when they came to teach us about the art. In about 7th and 8th grade, I remember being more excited about our art projects and actually taking them more seriously. Several times my art teacher would get my brother and I confused (he is a year older and not great at art) and I would receive poor grades for his work while he received good grades for my work. That probably ended up making me want to work harder.

My stepfather was a big influence on my interest in art. He is a very talented artist and graphic designer. When I went to high school at De Smet, where my stepfather went as well, he mentioned the art teacher Mr. Berns and recommended that I take the art class. I had never taken a more serious art class and I found that I really enjoyed it. It was challenging yet rewarding and it was a great balance between playing sports all year round. I thoroughly enjoyed the art class and ended up taking art all four years. I developed a ton and learned a lot from Mr. Berns and Mrs. Kohler. I worked with pencil, charcoal, oil, acrylic, clay and other mediums, which was a great experience.

I went to college and had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up getting a cell and molecular biology degree with a minor in art. I found that I was not interested in becoming a doctor and did not have much interest in other facets of that area. I continued to make art in college and began to make commissioned works of art. I am now doing art commissioned regularly as well as creating my own works. I work mostly with oil, pencil, charcoal but enjoy using any medium possible.

I also have been doing some photography and woodworking. Life has so many interesting things and I just want to learn about so many of them. Many people say you should focus on one thing, but I plan on doing this for many many years so I never want to be bored and I am always exploring and finding new and interesting things to do. Speaking of new things, I recently bought a tattoo gun and have been playing around with tattoo designs as well.

I have found that finding a balance between a bunch of things at once allows me to work on several different projects simultaneously. For instance, when I was younger one of my favorites things was playing a different sport each part of the year so that I do not get burnt out on focusing on one sport. The same is true with creating things for me. I will work on multiple different canvas’ or woodworking projects at the same time and when I hit a snag, I can walk away and work on something else while I figure out what needs to be adjusted or fixed.

Life is full of so many cool things and I always find myself wondering how that is made or can I make that or can I make something cool like that. I want my home to be filled with things that inspire me to do, think, be better or whatever emotion I want. Sometimes I wonder why do I want to create art. and I always come back to how something makes me feel or how someone reacts when they see it. I want the things that I do and make to make others feel. I want them to want to be better and do some awesome stuff whenever they see something I have made.

I have made a website and Instagram and Facebook. It’s all a bit much sometimes. So as of now, I am doing odd jobs, handy work, and coaching soccer alongside my art and projects to make a living... I guess that’s all I have to say about that for now.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road at all, but I would not want it to be a smooth road and I do not expect it to be a smooth road going forward. Life would be much more boring if it was a flat smooth road. I want uphill battles and downhill slopes and everything in between. I am not going to go into much detail of my personal struggles, but they certainly have taught be a lot and I would not change a thing.

In general, self-doubt is always a factor. It is a constant battle to say is this worthwhile or am I wasting my time. Does anyone even care or like this? But I always come back to I enjoy doing this and if I can find a way to make it work out then it is probably worthwhile and I won’t know the other option anyways. So put your head down and keep going or quit and move on and stop thinking about it. (I have decided to put my head down). Nothing worthwhile is easy or maybe I am just delirious (catch the self-doubt?).

I use exercising and running as a way of dealing with many things. For me, I use it as a way of putting myself in a struggle or difficult situation so that when I am in a difficult situation in life, I can use those feelings to power through whatever struggles emerge. You learn a lot about yourself when you are running 26 miles.

After college, I got several different jobs and at each of them, I was like, what is next and I don’t see myself doing this for a long time. I always was creating things but I always felt that the “job” was getting in the way of doing things I enjoyed. I had to get those jobs to make more money until I could make things and sell them enough to earn somewhat of a living. Finding the balance between these things has been a struggle, but a willing struggle.

These are not real-life struggles but things that I am constantly dealing with. I feel like I always struggle with pricing things and selling in general. Marketing and advertising and just the business of art is weird, awkward and difficult in general. I just view this whole situation as a constantly evolving game and doing my best to adapt and get better. I mostly enjoy creating and any selling comes farther down the road.

Making money is also a struggle but also part of the equation. Selling your work for what it is worth and then creating a business out of it has been quite a learning experience. Between the supplies, time, advertising, marketing and whatever else goes into it and finding how it all works together is a never-ending process, but is something to be aware of if you want to create your own business.

Should I do more online or try to get into art shows or a gallery? I do not know but these are questions I keep asking and am still trying to find the answers. Should I use this medium or that? Should I make what I think people want or make what I want and hope people are interested in it?

There’s a long list of struggles that will not change, but how you deal with those struggles is more important than the struggles that you have. I feel like I am getting better at dealing with the struggles and making what may seem a negative into a positive because, really, what other choice do you have. I really believe in wabi-sabi- accepting things as they are in all their imperfect glory.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I create. I make paintings, drawings, woodworking projects. I want to create things that people are proud to own and want to share with others. I want the things I make to promote positive feelings in whoever sees or experiences it. For instance, in my own home (I have Squidward “bold and brash painting”), I try to create things that make me laugh or smile so that I have a constant reminder of happiness in my life. I also made a painting of the paradise falls from Pixar’s Up movie because I like the idea from that movie. I try to surround myself with great, cool interesting things so inspire me to do the same things. I also just like to create interesting things in general.

I would not say I specialize in just one thing. I am specializing in everything I am trying to do. There’s a term called Kai Zen- which is a never-ending improvement in all aspects. That’s my aim in life. If I am going to do something, I generally want to do it very well.

I am most proud of my work ethic. I want to continue to keep getting better and want to continue to learn new things. I think having a good work ethic and interest in many things will lead to a better and more rewarding life. I think what sets me apart from others is my willingness to start from zero in anything in order to learn and get better. I do not care much about the accolades. I appreciate it if I ever get them, but I am more interested in creating quality things that improve people’s lives. I feel that art can do that. I also think my wide range of skills sets me apart from others. I like the saying “jack of all trades and a master of some.” I have always admired Leonardo Da Vinci a lot and believe he embodied that more than anyone. Life is full of so many interesting and amazing things that I feel like if you keep exploring things, you can never get bored.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
I am not a very social person. Sometimes I think it would help a lot if I was more outgoing. So advice about that, I do not have much. Just be a nice person and stay curious about the things you are interested in and I believe you will find like-minded people and hopefully some people you can look to for mentoring and inspiration. I think with the internet like it is now, you can find and contact people fairly easily through Instagram, email website or whatever. So if you are interested in something, find a way to contact that person (worst case, they don’t respond) and go from there. Or just try whatever you are wanting to do and fail. and then do it again.

I watch a ton of YouTube. YouTube has been the best schooling I never got. I never liked school much because of the stagnation of sitting inside a classroom all day. I would much rather be doing things, screwing up and learning how to do it better. So for me, YouTube has been the best teacher. Almost any question I have can be answered by the internet and I learn well from watching so that works well for me. There is something special about being physically with people as well though so if you can find a supportive group that does awesome shit like you do, then do that.

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