Costa Mesa

Sean Woolsey

Carving Out An Artist's Dream

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I’ve always made art, but it’s always been changing. It’s about embracing the unknown, even things that you don’t like.

__Sean Woolsey

Finding your passion doesn’t come easy. It takes courage, time, and often a variety of false starts. It’s a process that can extend years, that will inevitably take you to places you’d never dream, or meet you exactly where you are.

For furniture maker and artist Sean Woolsey, there was no time to waste in discovering that passion. Born and raised in Costa Mesa, California, Sean has lived his whole life in Orange County, but has been making waves across the country with his exceptional approach to furniture design and ever-evolving fine art practice. By the time he graduated from high school, Sean had already started two businesses, and after graduation started yet another that ballooned into a mature enterprise, deploying products to over 100 retailers and manufacturing goods overseas. But in a fast-paced industry running almost every aspect on his own before most of us were paying our own health insurance, Sean could feel himself burning out. “Not that I’m not down with a ton of work,” he clarifies, “but at age 22 I was already a stress case. I decided to sell and walk away.”

From there he went on to design for Hurley, a surf apparel line headquartered in Costa Mesa. Working in a corporate environment saved him the headache of managing every aspect of running a small business, but it also robbed his process of some critical element. “I had gone from making things with my own hands and seeing them change right in front of my eyes, to working for a large company where everything was shipped off and produced overseas. It was all just about the money, and as the designer I was just sitting at a computer all day. So I left that, and for about six months had no idea what I was going to do next.”

What Sean did do next was chase what he couldn’t yet know he would find. True to his curious, adventure-seeking nature, he decided to take a drive across the country and ask questions of other entrepreneurs, to interview artists and makers that inspired him. “I was at a point where I had no clue what I was going to do next, but I knew I had to change my life. I just started reaching out to people, and ended up interviewing over 50 artists and creatives across America, people that had paved their own way. I was drawn to people’s stories, and hearing about failures and triumphs and the in-betweens. I interviewed people all over the creative map: architects, sculptors, artists, musicians. I was just out there soul-searching and figuring it out.

Read the entire article in our Print Magazine

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