IMAGE MAKER: SEAN MUNDY
WORDS: IRVIN RIVERA
A huge print of an army of faceless black silhouettes chasing another faceless figure beautifully juxtaposed and carefully placed on frame is one of the few powerful images that stopped me on my feet during the recent PHOTO LA Art Fair. The image is from visual artist Sean Mundy’s “Hollow” series.
Canadian Conceptual Image-maker Sean Mundy creates series of visually-striking, dark imagery that explores of the individual, isolation, the collective, identity and many more.
Mundy’s pieces definitely warrant a conversation and a whole lot of space in your mind as soon as it occupies that space.
In this exclusive interview, discover his love for music, embracing digital image-making, as well as his passion for creating and sharing his works.
Hi Sean, Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your story?
I was born and raised in Montréal, Quebec, and still live and work here as well. At a young age I was very interested in multiple genres of art (writing, drawing, music, etc), until I solidified my interest in photography as my main passion about 10 years ago and have been taking and creating photos ever since, and then becoming more serious about my work around 6 years ago.
When did you take up photography?
I'd say I was about 16 when I started taking photos, so roughly 10 years ago. It was something that I gradually just worked at, like most hobbies start out. My parents bought me a camera for a school trip, I would bring the camera with me to parties/events/when travelling, and eventually I began to realize that I was getting pretty good with it and could use it for more creative means than simply documenting what was happening around me.
Were you from a family of artists?
My parents are both musicians, so yes, but I've always had music surrounding me growing up with my parents. I have some distant cousins who do a bit of music as well but my parents and the music they would play around the house growing up was a huge source of inspiration for me and is definitely why I'm so in love with music and art in general.
How would you describe your works?
My works are darker conceptual images utilizing surreal imagery to probe at themes of identity, the individual and the collective, isolation, and many others.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
Recently I've been using a lot of my older less "refined" works as inspiration for newer pieces. Asides from this, I'm inspired by all different mediums of art: music, sculpture, painting, photography, video, everything is potential inspirational material.
Walk us briefly through your creation process.
Usually, ideas will slowly be created over time; it's very rare that I create an entire image in my mind all at once, but it does happen once in a while. Usually I will begin with something like a perspective/vantage point I want to create the image from, a color palette, or specific concept or theme I'm trying to probe at, and over time I will build the concept up until it's both visually interesting and has some conceptual baggage to it that speaks to certain themes or concepts.
Is it a conscious effort on your part to create digitally?
It's the only approach I've really ever known to image making, so yes. I think I shot a roll of film a few years ago but never got it developed haha. Digital is just the easiest way for me to make my ideas come to life and I'm a big fan of the post production phase of image creation in this style so I can't imagine not creating without Photoshop. I suppose I could do physical collages with film though, definitely something to consider for the future!
Would you comment on your editing process? How do you edit your works and select which ones to show from a series?
My editing process depends entirely on the image/concept being created. Most of the time my work involves some form of compositing (combining images from the same shoot or various shoots into 1 image in Photoshop), but other times I will manage to capture everything I need for an image in 1 frame, in which case the editing process is very straight forward and I just do basic color and tonal editing to the image, and maybe some spot healing or retouching of elements in the frame to clean up the composition or remove any distractions from the image.
What made you decide to do exhibitions as a mean to present your works?
Making the transition from showing work exclusively on the internet to actually having physical works in physical spaces has been an interesting and really gratifying experience. I had spent a good amount of time going to galleries in the last few years and would often see photographs in galleries and think "One day I would love to see my work shown like this", so once the opportunity to do so came into my life, I took it. I would like to continue showing my work in galleries and such of course, but also being able to share my images with thousands of people instantly over the internet is something that galleries are just practically incapable of doing, but similarly you will never be able to fully appreciate a work of mine on a computer or a smart phone the same way you would printed large and framed in front of you for you to see.
How often do you create a new project?
I'm pretty frequently in the process of creating new works, or working on an older/recently shot piece that is in the editing stage. I'd say I start something new around every week and a half - 2 weeks, but ideally I would like to be working on new material every week.
What do you hope to get from your audience every time you present your works?
I'm honestly not looking for a specific reaction out of my audience/supporters, as long as people enjoy the work in some way, for whatever reason, that's all I can ask for. I make work that I like and that I think some people will enjoy, but there's always a guessing game involved as to what people will enjoy vs. what I enjoy as well.
If you are not creating an image, what else keeps you busy?
I'm writing/producing a lot of music these days for my music project MOADS, in 2019 my goal is to release a song a month, so that keeps me pretty busy along with having somewhat of a social life and seeing friends here and there.
If you were a book, what would you be and why?
I would like to say I would be a thriller, but that's just because those are the kinds of books I like to read, not really a reflection of my personality at all.
Where else can people find you and your works? Any upcoming shows? Please list them below.
People can find my work on instagram at @seanjmundy , on facebook at facebook.com/seanmundyphotography, on tumblr as seanmundy, and I can be reached by email for all inquiries or limited edition prints at email@example.com.
In April I will be showing some work at the Paper art fair here in Montréal, and on May 4th I will be showing my "Barriers" series at Youn Gallery here in Montréal, 5226 St Laurent Boulevard.