The Financial Analyst Who Moonlights as a Spray Painter
By Sarah Emily Gilbert
Sean Allen is a financial analyst by day and an up-and-coming spray paint artist by night. A master hustler, he can even be found doing spray paint demos outside popular happy hour locations in Philadelphia while still in his business suit. Although Allen assured me that he’s careful not to stain his outfit, it’s clear that this money-savvy artist has a hard time staying away from his paints.
Since he can remember, the Moorestown, NJ native has had a knack for art, but spray-painting didn’t enter the picture until high school. Thanks to YouTube and a little trouble making, Allen taught himself the tricks of the trade.
“In high school I was grounded for getting into trouble at school, and I couldn’t go hang out with friends. I had to do something, and through the art that I was always interested in, I taught myself how to spray paint by watching YouTube videos. My parents were a huge part of that because they allowed me to use the two walls in my bedroom as much as I wanted. So throughout high school I probably covered the walls about ten times practicing murals.”
Fast-forward to 2016, and Allen’s murals are covering more than just his bedroom walls. Over the past few months, the 24-year-old Carnegie Mellon grad has had a myriad of opportunities to showcase his talents. Last month, Allen was asked by Instagram to paint a mural at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. It acted as the backdrop for photo portraits of big-name delegates and senators (and for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jesse Jackson).
Additionally, Allen’s work is on display in Princeton until September. Tigerlabs’ newest art installation features his AYE!CRTVCollection, which is predominately composed of acrylic spray paintings, but also features some brush and marker work.
“The medium itself tells more about my collection as opposed to others because you can see the technique and the spray paint within it,” explains Allen. “It’s all freehand and done right there as opposed to a lot of other artists who use brushes. I started in the street and have moved into the gallery/exhibition life. Although the exhibit is more urban, I think it shows that progression. You can see that it still resembles fine art in a sense. I try to draw comparisons as best I can between the two very different forms of art in my work.”
According to Tigerlabs, the installation’s artwork “is heavily influenced by Euclidean Geometry Practices, Trap Culture(s), and Global Economic/Socioeconomic Disciplines, and the pieces are linked together through recurring provocation with these areas.” But for those of us who didn’t major in finance, biochemistry – or spray painting – Allen explains his aesthetic in simpler terms:
“I like to throw in something from pop culture that people can recognize, but I also like to throw in something to juxtapose it. For example, I’ll include lyrics of a future rap song on one side of the canvas, and then a poem from 400 years ago on the other side and cross two worlds that would otherwise never be crossed. That’s what I strive to do.”
Allen recently incorporated the volunteer-world into his art repertoire. In early August, he answered a web post asking for a volunteer to complete a mural on the side of a senior housing building in Teaneck, New Jersey. Passionate about all forms of art, Allen spent an entire day creating a pink bonsai tree on the building’s façade, getting reimbursed only for the cost of materials. Allen reflects on the experience:
“I donated 100% of my time to complete the mural. I talked with the residents, many of which have dementia, and listened to their stories. They sat in the garden watching me paint for the whole day. It was a great, humbling experience to say the least.”
Allen is all about experiences. While he can’t complain about his current role as a financial analyst/spray painter, he’d like to pursue art fulltime.
“100% my goal is to be a fulltime muralist,” says Allen. “My dream job is to have a mural to complete every three days as I travel the United States and the world, and then sell art prints and canvases along the way, just to get that extra cash. That would be my dream.”
With spray paint, easel, and business suit in hand Sean Allen is unstoppable. Next Thursday, August 25, 2016, the young artist will have his second curated event at XFINITY Live! Philadelphia. Called Social Art, the event will feature 15 handpicked artists from the Philly area and will include live spray painting demonstrations by Allen. For more information and tickets, visit www.ticketfly.com. To inquire about items for sale, pricing, commissions, murals, and more, submit a mini form on the “Contact” tab of Allen’s website, ayecrtv.com. To stay abreast of this budding artist’s upcoming artwork and events, follow @ayecrtv on Instagram