Sebastian Errazuriz | The MiND of a Creative Inspiration
Sebastian Errazuriz is a man of forward thinking and constantly strives to look at the world in new angles, shedding light on its infinite possibilities. His work has one main objective: to make you look again.
Although Sebastian does not like to stick to traditional styles, concepts or themes within his art, he has one common goal with each piece- to alter our perception of an object or a scenario and invite people to think beyond their restrictions. The aim? To highlight a different view on how society deals with social issues and perhaps solve them.
The Chilean-born artist, designer and creative activist prefers to take a step back in life to reposition his outlook, allowing him to see what others cannot. Using everyday objects, Sebastian opens the mind to new potentials and provides original ‘tools’ in order to help his viewers rediscover and chose how to live their life.
Sebastian sat down with MiND for this week’s creative inspiration feature, giving us insights into his thoughts and personal inspirations that go behind his diverse catalogue of artworks.
What inspires/influences you in your artwork? How do these inspirations translate into your work? – culture, background, daily life, imagination, people.
As opposed to the vast majority of artists that have personal interests in a particular theme or a personal neurosis, which is from childhood or whatever circumstances they have lived through, for me, it’s more of a general, universal notion. It is creating work that is not about myself or my own obsession but work that can connect with other people. Therefore, the work I try to make doesn’t have a personal style. When you think of most artists they have a very recognizable style because it is that one thing that they do. In a similar way, brands have a recognizable style, trademark or logo. What I try to do is work with traditional, iconic objects and position them in situations or places we all know and try to get you to look and think of them again.
There are those moments where you stop and look again, and you notice those things you had never seen before, or that you can actually make a difference, or decide that you don’t want to keep doing this because it doesn’t actually make sense. The whole body of my work is just about getting you to stop, to look again, and to maybe create that moment of awareness.
I want to reach the most amount of people possible. You know how today, we can all say how something is very trendy, and an artist’s work can be trending. I didn’t want to be trendy because trendy now means you won’t be trendy in six months from now or two years. In a similar way, what is trendy for one culture is not for another. But if you work in the realm of ideas, that idea can continue to be an idea forever and connect with the past and the future.
Being an artist, what is your personal outlook on life?
I think you need to live a life that you are proud of. Most of us just live the life we are given or try to do the best with what we have: very few of us actually decide that this is the life we want. I think it’s very hard in the day to day to have clarity, it’s easier to look back and see if the life you’ve lived so far has been one where you have not been afraid. It’s really about being courageous.
From age 15-25 years old, when showering, I would make myself a little ball huddled under the water and I would try to make myself remember the whole day that had past; from the moment I woke up, breakfast, went to school, step by step, trying to relive it as if it was a little video of everything I had seen that day. At the end of that, the question was always: was I brave today? Did I chicken out at some point? Was there a moment I should have said something that I didn’t, or stepped up and I didn’t? In general, for those 10 years that I did that, there was not a single day where I felt as if I chickened out.
That gives us tranquillity because we have no idea if we are doing this right or not; no idea if the plans you are embarking on are going to work.
What role does art have in society?
The role of art changes over time in society. Art was all about story telling of religious imaginary or propaganda. After that, it becomes a little bit more habitual. Art’s role was to capture, like cameras, those very special moments and have them extend over time. By the time we get cameras, art’s role is all about expression. It no longer made any sense to capture through paintings or portraits then as we could do it in a better way with photography.
Right now, everyone has their own cameras and they are all connected, so self-expression as become so much that everyone has become a pseudo-artist. With that, there is a more challenging role for the artist to ask more serious questions. It is getting lost amongst more vague questions, which are not as precise or as sharp. Art is diluting again and needs to change once again. The new art will not be an art of expression anymore, it will be about how to activate and create change, and how to make things different. I think we’re all a little tired of the self-expression, our own lives, quotes and our own selves. Art will be able to activate change and offer a real difference. That will be its new role.
Do you believe art can be an inspiration in the retail industry and environments?
Yes, the retail market is having huge problems right now and everyone is suffering in different areas of it. They are suffering in a similar way as the arts are suffering. We’re all consuming so much visual information on a daily basis that it is becoming very hard to create a personal connection with someone. When my father went to university there were only 20 subjects for him to pick from. It was relatively easy for him to choose art because he only had to leave 19 other options aside. He didn’t have to have a fear of missing out. Now for someone studying there are probably 300 careers. It’s already trickier to choose the one you want to go into than what the older generation had to go through.
Now that we are buying stuff and we have so many options those elements aren’t as satisfactory because when you are buying one item out of 500, the sense that you picked right or that what you picked was special is very scarce; you’re getting a lot less for your money than you used to. That’s why everyone is going towards experiences. In general, millennials are buying less stuff and instead, spending more money on trips, concerts and experiences. We all know that the retail industry is bound to go to the digital world. Even those who are from the digital world, who continue to create these flagship stores, they all know that it is the experience, which is going to make the difference and create the relationship with the customer.
That experience cannot be a mere practical experience; it cannot be just about the luxury of buying something of exclusivity; it cannot just be aspirational. It also needs to be inspirational. For it to be inspirational, you need to go beyond what is easy to put your finger on, and that starts going into the realms of the senses, of the arts.
At the same time, for that to happen you need to have a retail management team that is willing to take that risk. It’s taking the guy in the black leather jacket on the motorbike and wanting to put him in a three-piece suit, sitting behind a computer, it’s not going to work. We need trust: from artists that can understand the retail environment and speak the same language, to retail managers that can understand the language of the arts, making it a bilingual conversation where they both respect each other to share common points.
What is the conceptual content of your artwork? What word would you use to describe your work?
The work tries to invite the viewer to stop and look again at its surroundings. I work in the fringes between art and design, creating functional designs that can incorporate existential, conceptual and psychological elements that normally belong to the arts. Creating, on the other side, artworks that can be designed to function and trigger certain pre-ordained programs in order to generate the expected result.
I want people to see my work. If you look, you don’t necessarily see; but when you see, you recognise. How I see you, is different to how I look at you. If I look at you, I can simply look at you but I’m not seeing you. The moment I see you, I know who you are.
What piece of your artwork do you most identify with or defines you as an artist?
I have a door to viewers. It appears on a Ted talk and it’s the first door in history that has two viewers instead of one [the hole in the door that you look through]. If you think of every single door you’ve ever seen, you’re confronted by one door with one viewer. We’ve been doing this forever, we’re not pirates anymore. The piece is inviting you to open the other eye.
It is saying let’s look again; let’s see what else there is to see. It works both physically and metaphorically- Imagine you are going to your friend’s apartment. You come out of the elevator and you’re walking down the hallway when you are confronted with a door and it has two viewers. In a weird way, for the first time ever, the door now looks back at you. It has an anthropologic form, you feel reserved. It’s odd and strange, you may be smiling already and you’re not even using it yet.
What would you like achieve/ make people feel when they view your artwork?
I would like people to see themselves through the art, to feel reflected. When you go on a trip, the parallel differences makes you more aware of your home country and your own culture and who you are, simply because you are seeing a different version of your own life. When you have a sociological comedian, someone who is genuinely funny because they describe a situation you already know, but they describe the situation so elegantly and precisely that you actually see what was always there in front of you- who that person is, or who you are and the scenario again generating a physical reaction that you can’t help but laugh because you are suddenly seeing this.
You are trying to hold up a mirror in front of people, getting them to look at themselves again, their friends and family, and reality. I don’t want them to look at me: it’s not about me. I’m just trying to hold up the mirror.
What do you believe creates a value in art?
What gives the value to art? Shit, that’s a tough one. In today’s society, the value of art is given by a sum of factors. It’s a sum of brands; one is the work as a brand, the artist as a brand, the artist’s gallery, the curator and critics that push for the artist, the auction house that decided to sell the artists brands. All that sums up the total brand identity, which generally has a particular value. That’s the market value, which makes one artist sell for more than another. You can “follow the money” and see what elements created this market value.
The real value of artwork is in its ability to break through the norms and present a different, unimaginable possibility. This new unimagined possibility is at the most value when it sustains the test of time. It is refereeing to a universal issue that continues to exist forever. Any great novel that today we are reading is partial because the writer was very famous in their time, and was supported by a particular king and court. There were a series of elements built up for that story to be continued to be read and be a part of the educational system in schools today.
That is vital for retail and brand. Everything needs to be reinvented constantly and with new instant classics. In music, there are certain songs that you know are just classic, even though you’ve never heard them before. That same realm could be created in the arts and fashion. What you create doesn’t just last for that trend or that season, but is something that can become part of the ongoing, bigger collection, and continue being purchased over time.
How do you see art evolving?
I see art going towards technology, leaving the realm of physical objects and prints, entering the world of immaterial experience that can be viewed by an infinitive about of people at the same time and continue to exist over time. It is no longer artwork that is fixed and stiff: it is no longer fixed into a marble of block that is the piece and that is it, in one warehouse, in one museum. Instead of it being the only thing we can transmit from it is a little photo or a video; have a sculpture, which continues to mutate over time and is one that is no longer experienced in the physical world but in the digital world.
I’m working towards this. I would love to be one of the first artists to do this: I want to get ahead of everyone. The moment you identify a trend, it has been going on for a while. When people identify and recognise it, and are suddenly doing it, is the moment that the trend is already flying. For those of us whose job it is to create new trends need to be able to make the jump and start going into areas, investigating them, where no one else has gone before. Not everyone else thinks what you are doing makes sense.
Best piece of advice you have ever been given…
My mother said; “in a fight, you better punch first and punch hard”. I like that.