For 26-year-old mixed-media artist, Robert Dugan better known as Seek One, urban culture and street art have always played an important role in shaping his identity as an artist. Dating back to his early teenage years, Dugan found himself expressing his identity, viewpoints and vision through graffiti and thus, Seek One was born. Now, as a full-time artist and entrepreneur, Dugan has found himself in full control of his brand and how he wishes to present his art to the world. Haute Residence caught up with the artist who opens up about his upcoming gallery openings in the Hamptons and Philadelphia, how he's found success in the era of social media and more.
What does Seek One mean and how did you get started with your art?
I grew up skateboarding and doing graffiti when I was younger. There is definitely a big influence with graffiti in skateboarding and that played a role in my inspiration as an artist. There’s no specific meaning behind Seek One. The name originated when I was younger as my tag. As I evolved into fine art and worked on canvas, I kept the name to keep the authenticity of where my work stems from and what influenced me to start.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your art?
Urban culture. Popular culture. It comes from a lot of different things. I’m also inspired by a lot of brands and logos. For example, if I see an old coca cola bottle, very generic but iconic at the time. That could spark a piece. It comes from all over the place.
How would you describe your art aesthetic?
From a professional standpoint, it’s considered mixed media. It’s very authentic and unique in its own way, a mix of photography and graffiti in a high fashion manner where you could hang it in a white room gallery and it will look good but still has a street vibe that appeals to millennials and attracts an older crowd.
Your art is rooted in urban culture and street art, how do you go about combining the two to create fine art?
I try to keep everything relevant based on whatever subject I’m working on. One of my earlier pieces was a Frank Sinatra painting. In order to make it my own, I incorporated vintage wall street journals I had been collecting. The use of vintage 1930s journals layered with graffiti and an iconic picture of Frank Sinatra really made the piece come together. Keeping my art relevant is important and mixing in graffiti created a whole new aesthetic for it that has become so popular these days.
What are some of your favorite pieces you have created?
I’ve been working on a lot of pieces that are based around brands and products. One of my most popular paintings has been my "Filtered Gucci" painting where I incorporated a skull, a Marlboro cigarette box and the Gucci pattern. The painting is a mixture of incorporating iconic brands as well as tying in meaning to my art. For this one, the message is both that smoking kills and people are addicted to fashion. I'm currently focused on creating art that has an underlying meaning to it.
Where can art enthusiasts and collectors find your work?
I work with a lot of galleries on the east coast. I work with galleries in the Hamptons, New Jersey, Wall Street and Miami. I’m pretty spread out throughout the east coast. I also do a lot of e-commerce. I have fine art prints that are signed and limited editions but I also started an e-commerce business where I design everything digitally and print on canvas.
How has the rise of social media impacted your work and business?
A lot of people think artists sell just in galleries but social media has played a big role in generating sales and exposure for me, as well as working with different brands. There are so many different ways you can leverage your business on social media. Being a visual artist, Instagram has allowed me to showcase my work in a variety of ways because of photos and videos.
Do you have any upcoming events or projects you’re working on that you’re excited about?
I’m working on a lot of stuff right now. I’m having a gallery opening in the Hamptons on May 1st and then I’m doing a pop-up in Philadelphia in May as well. I have other shows lined up in the summer and will be doing my second show at Art Market + Design. I just got done with Art Basel in December for the second year in a row. It was definitely cool to be a part of it again and I'm looking forward to doing something again this year.