INTERVIEW: SEAN BERNHARDT / SPACE BAT KILLER
Talented Sean Bernhardt is an artist who sees things most don't. As well as a surfer/skateboarder, he puts together 70's surf style beach colleges that capture everything sexy and cool about these two pass times. Read down below to see what's it like to live the dream. Surf, skate, art, and live shows.
How'd you get into art?
I always was one of those kids growing up who stood out in the art class. Not really sure what it was, but my parents could see me having some sort of talent at a pretty young age. I would say 8th grade/early high school I decided to stick with it. The surf/skate industry inspired me a lot, I was really into clothes growing up, skate decks, etc. I always doodled up logos on my binders.
Ahh, started young. That's great man! I would say your inspirations are definitely apparent in your work and we love it. Did you start skating and surfing then too?
I grew up skating more than surfing, but now I surf more than I skate. I did pick up skating again recently and got re-hooked. I think without having any interest in the skate world at a young age I wouldn't of had my work look the way it does. It definitely molded me a lot growing up.
Switching from skating to surfing as we grow. It's definitely a lot easier on the knees.
Haha, yes! They both go together too well. It’s about a five minute drive to the beach where I live too, not many skate spots so I used to always build random boxes/metal coping things to skate. Landing in water is definitely way more friendly.
Very true. I noticed recently you've been creating rather interesting collages. Have you always done them?
Glad you like them. I've always been into colleges. I actually went a few years strictly making these very dark/drippy works with collage bits on them. Once I start making a collage I get hooked. It's like evil spirits take over me, just in that vintage beachy/70s style. I always been a fan of that stuff but have never dove into it until more recently, it’s super addicting. I recently had my first solo show ever at a local RVCA store on the boardwalk in Asbury NJ. I really want to get out of my comfort zone with creating and changing things up just to see what happens.
They're great and thoughtful pieces. Sometimes I just think to myself how clever they are at times haha. I wish we could've made the RVCA show. It looked like a lot of fun. Do you think you will have more shows to come?
Man, I really appreciate that. I just want to have fun and inspire people. My stuff is up until October 9th if you get the chance to get down there. It’s called "WET DREAMS". But I definitely will be doing more events. Would like to try to get into some group shows eventually or maybe show my drawings in the future somewhere. It’s been a while. This was my first showing of art in like 4 years almost.
I believe we're super close, so we would love to stop by! Where do you take your materials from? Are they old photos?
My collages are mainly old life mags, penthouse, playboys and some random old books. The recent postings on Instagram are digital collages I made with just older photos found on the internet that I dig. I'm very against digital works of art, but I guess my stuff can sometimes fall into that realm. The ones I've been doing are for fun and people seem to like them, so I'm diving into something new once again as well!
Yeah, they're really entertaining. Any skate themed collages coming?
That is next on my to-do list for sure. I have some older thrasher mags from a friend I borrowed and definitely going to mess with some digital ones with skating involved. Gonna go for a quick break/skate be back in a few haha. Gonna leave my laptop up.
All good, do your thing man. Wish we can skate right now too but we’re out in the city without our boards. But we remember you asking for Playboy mags. Unfortunately, we didn't have any.
Ah man, you guys are the best, but it’s raining again here so no skating for me.
Yeah, the rain ruins the skate sesh really quickly. One theme we always seem to take away from your art is this sense of paradise, like tropical beaches, babes, and nice waves. Being from Jersey which is sort of the opposite of that, is paradise something you always think about?
Yeah, I’d say that plays a big roll in my works. It’s pretty much cold weather here all year, not much going on, hard to get out of the house, so spending days thinking about surf trips and palm trees is common for me.
Yeah, we feel ya. In terms of weather, New York is pretty much the same.
I like going to shows once in a blue moon up there during the winter. It's nice because during that time it's so empty in the venues. I’m not really a city person at all, but you guys usually have the best bands playing out there.
Where would your dream/paradise surf trip be? If you had to choose.
If I ever won the lottery I would move out of the country to somewhere tropical. You would probably find me in like Costa Rica in the jungle or on an empty property with just a shack.
That sounds beautiful. We’re into the beach life too, but we could see one of us here in the woods / close enough to a beach. So are you doing this thing full time now? As in your art and design stuff?
People ask me that all the time, it’s not even work for me but I do make good money. I’d say it’s been more 50/50. I get really burnt out working on stuff for people. I think any artist can relate to that struggle. Full-time beach goer/part-time artist would be my ideal label, haha.
That sounds like a dream. Dude, you can definitely make it full time, your art is very distinct and you're very talented. What else are you doing for work if you don't mind us asking?
I also sell tees (with my artwork on them). It's pretty much a side project of mine to get my art out in other ways. I'm a tee lover. Check me out @evilparadise, you can see my work there. I think it all adds up to full-time. To me, it's just about creation and getting everyone stoked.
That's awesome, we love tees too! When you find yourself in a creative jam, what helps you get through it and be creative again?
Ah, finding new music, browsing the internet or visiting my favorite sites for creative stuff helps a lot to stay inspired. Instagram has so many incredible artists on it. Makes it very easy to get re-inspired. We all can inspire each other so easily nowadays.
Ah, shit that would be dope! We gotta send you some stuff too when we make new shirts. ❤
I’m going to definitely send up a care package to you all after the interview. Been going through a lot of those lately, it’s another reason why I choose to do collages over drawing.
Very true, man.
Going for a surf always clears the mind as well, relaxation.
You ever read the book "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon?
Nope. never, definitely, will check that out. I've heard the phrase before.
It's cool, kinda goes into what you were saying about how we all influence each other these days. How we shouldn't be ashamed to take inspiration from others.
As artists we take shit so personal. I had a friend go off on me for a year because he thought I was stealing his ideas. We’re not friends anymore but he kind of fucked my mind up. People need to relax, get inspired and do their thing. When you are over analyzing every detail there's something wrong. Nobody is the same. Art will never be the same.
Exactly! It's all about having fun and just expressing yourself. Just stop caring and everything will be fine. But what are some short term and long term plans for you? Anything coming up?
Short term plans are to surf as much as possible with this storm approaching. Long term I would really like to get involved in have more shows. Get some work into the skate industry if possible. I've taken a step back and trying to just enjoy my work rather than over-work. I'm happy with what I've been producing but usually I dislike my stuff.
Happy to hear that man! What is some of your favorite creatives and artists making work right now?
I like Mr. Babies collages. Xavier Davies has been getting better and better. He’s a dude from Australia. He actually did a design for me for my clothing line.
Speaking about your clothing line. Evil Paradise is the name of it, right?
Yep, kind of brings us back to the Jersey thing. I thought of that name during the dead of winter.
Haha, we love it! Evil radio has really good taste in music.
I’m at the point where I don't even want to name my stuff. I always want the art to speak for itself. Kind of not branding it as much, letting it be simple and clean collages.
But thanks, dudes! I'm always open for new tunes. Yeah, that's something we can always appreciate. My number one favorite brand of all time is Insight. Insight really inspired me and they were really killing it when they started in local surf shops. Their inspiration images/direction is incredible, well was. You don't see them around anymore.
We've honestly never heard of them. We have to check them out. So, Sean, we've pretty much asked all the questions our heart's desire, haha. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Thank you man, keep in touch!
Yeah man, for sure!