1xRUN Thru Interview
Rollin’ by Sean Desmond & Hugh Leeman
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about the original piece, when was it drawn and created?
Sean Desmond: This is an original image edition made specifically for 1x Run, so this is the original! The photograph was taken in 2011 and the collaboration was done in 2012. It started out with the photograph here that I shot in The Tenderloin area of San Francisco.When I showed the image to Hugh Leeman we started to talk about adding an ornate border to the stark black and white photography. We wanted to do something that evoked the feeling of wallpaper and that’s where Hugh came in with his stencil work. For the actual pallet of colors we started out with the silver on gold that had a classic, almost Victorian sensibility to it. From there we evolved into the brighter, more saturated colors while still remaining consistent with the stencil. Hopefully viewers will find the color palette that best suits their own sensibilities.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Sean Desmond: It has been a favorite image of mine for a bit now. Hugh and I had both been working in The Tenderloin area for a while. I reached out to him and he was down for the cause. Easy as that.
1xRun: How long did the piece take?
Sean Desmond: A very long time.
1xRun: What is unique about this piece?
Sean Desmond: This is the first collaborative release that I’m doing with Hugh Leeman. I think a big part of this print that I really like is that our hands truly touched each and every piece in this edition. It’s not printed from an inkjet! Being that it’s a hand embellished stencil on a screen print makes it very human, and I think that compliments the subject nature of our work as well.
1xRun: Why should people buy these prints?
Sean Desmond: If they like an all American photograph. If you like the imagery and it resonates with you in a personal, or aesthetic way, buy it.
1xRun: Describe the print in one gut reaction word.
Sean Desmond: Rollin’
1xRun: When did you first start making art?
Sean Desmond: First started taking photographs in 1999.
Hugh Leeman: I spent three years living out of a backpack traveling around the world, after all of that, I moved into a studio in San Francisco. Sleeping in the same room with strangers and “new friends” and then having my own private place really inspired me to start creating.
1xRun: What was your first piece?
Sean Desmond: My first printed photographs were landscapes. I soon got bored of them though and began focusing on people around 2004 while still in college.
Hugh Leeman: Mao Zedong portrait, I’d just come back to the states from China, and did a series called “Greatness and Suffering in the 20th Century.
1xRun: What artists inspired you early on?What artists inspire you now?
Sean Desmond: Early on it was Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Dali, James Joyce, Nan Goldin. Currently it’s John Baldessari, Barry McGee, Ari Marcopoulos, Mike Giant, Parra, Barbara Kruger.
Hugh Leeman: My brother in law does great impasto paintings that look and feel like David Park with some Diebenkorn, I was really inspired by him as a kid. Currently Olafur Eliasson, Ai Weiwei and Cai Guo Qiang.
1xRun: Do you listen to music while you work? If so what? If not then what is your environment like when you work?
Sean Desmond: Four Tet, Aphex Twin and Yeasayer.
Hugh Leeman: Music always plays. The environment is a cluster fuck of a disaster, and I don’t clean, ever. My clothes are in a pile atop reclaimed bill posters.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any living artist who would it be and why?
Sean Desmond: John Baldessari. He is a master of innovation, cross pollination and reconstructing mediums. I’d love to send him a handful of my black and white prints and see the colors, textures and tones he’d add to the images. He makes everything entirely new.
Hugh Leeman: My nephew is an emerging performance artist, he’s 14.
1xRun: If you could collaborate with any deceased artists who would it be and why?
Sean Desmond: Probably Van Gogh. I would’ve loved to have done a profile piece on him – a short documentary exploring his mind and his process.
Hugh Leeman: Basquiat.
1xRun: What was the first piece of art that you bought? What was the last piece of art that you bought? Do you still have them?
Sean Desmond: The first real piece of art I ever bought was an acrylic painting done on wood by Oliver Black. Oliver was also the first true artist who I ever started to engage with and develop ideas with about art and the process of making it. He’d let me document his painting process and was the first person I ever did a completed stop motion video piece with. It was of him painting an old map in an empty warehouse in San Francisco. I certainly still have the piece of his I bought back in 2009. It’s the centerpiece of my living room. The last piece that I bought was a Parra screenprint at SF MOMA. He’s definitely one of my favorite artists currently working.
Hugh Leeman: Years ago my girlfriend, at the time, and I went to a live nude female modeling session and drew the same woman for 2 hours. Four years and five different addresses in three countries later we’d broken up, she’d come out of the closet, I was still straight and we’d lost touch. Anyways long story short I walk into a gallery in San Francisco and framed on the wall is a full length nude of the woman we’d drawn together years before. I bought the piece and took it home that day.
1xRun: What else do you have in the works?
Sean Desmond: I’ve been working on a lot of video based pieces with Mike Giant and I hope to put those out in a proper way sometime soon. Also working on developing a feature length documentary. A lot of video work right now in general, you guys will have to do a 1xRun DVD release!
Hugh Leeman: I will be working with The Contemporary Jewish Museum in 2013 and vandalizing.