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Conversations with Seth Armstrong

Today we’d like to introduce you to Seth Armstrong.

Hi Seth, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I got started very early. My parents were always incredibly supportive. They moved to LA to become actors, so the pursuit of one’s creative side was never something they could argue with. I grew up in Silver Lake. I moved to Oakland to attend the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) and stayed there for about ten years. After school, I went around to galleries in the Bay with manila envelopes containing print-outs of some paintings and CD’s with more images. A couple of galleries bit (111 Minna, Rowan Morrison) and I tried to show as many paintings as possible while working as a preparator at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Wattis Art Institute and also taking on as many illustration gigs and private commissions as I could. I ran into some trouble at a certain point and had to move back home to LA, so I could live above my parent’s garage while I paid off legal fees. Luckily, moving back to LA coincided with an increase in paid illustration work, which allowed me to move out soon enough and get a painting studio downtown. It also bought me enough time to work on my own paintings. I started showing in more exhibitions. Gradually, the painting took over.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Starting out, it was sometimes hard to be motivated to paint when my paintings were not selling. Had to remind myself over and over that I was doing it because I loved it, not to make money. But when you’re only eating Cambell’s Chunky soup for weeks on end, that is sometimes easier said than done.

In those more desperate moments, it’s also tough to make something that is truly personally satisfying while also hoping to make something that someone will want to buy. It’s hard to tell if you’re painting for the buying public or for yourself, and if you’re only pandering to get paid, that art can suck. I, therefore, have probably made some shitty art in my day.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I make oil paintings. These days they’ve largely been landscapes of the Greater Los Angeles area, mostly the Eastside.

What does success mean to you?
Being able to continually pursue something that you enjoy doing.

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