Sean Flood is a Boston native, born and bred. He has traveled its streets and neighborhoods by paint and canvas, and captured the city's architectural landscape. Exposed from a young age, by the influence of his father, to building construction, carpentry, architecture, and design, Flood says that he started to enjoy painting architecture and interior spaces – which then developed into a specific interest in cityscapes and architectural buildings.
It seems fitting that these days he finds himself on familiar ground at Lesley University to apply this expertise; Flood has been commissioned to paint the Lunder Arts Center, the new home of the College of Art and Design in Porter Square, Cambridge.
Weekly visits to the building adjacent to the new facility to photograph the progress will take shape when he constructs the piece in his studio. As this is a process painting, Flood says his approach is to aim for the whole timeline of the building's construction, to an almost fully complete state, a slight departure from similar projects that captured the beginning to the middle of a building's completion.
Like the new arts center and like any work in progress, Sean Flood's journey as an artist continues to evolve and take shape. He spoke with us about some of the formative stops along the way, his successes, and the importance of motivation and a support system.
First Stop: Lesley University College of Art and Design
Flood came to the College of Art and Design, formerly the Art Institute of Boston (AIB), at the urging of teachers and friends who recommended the tight-knit community and individual attention the Bachelor of Fine Arts program offered. Flood says that he did consider other paths, like working in construction, and admits that it wasn't even until graduating that he really started to take painting as a career seriously.
Flood entered the program with a concentration in illustration. When he noticed changes in his work in his second year of the Illustration program, he made the transition to Fine Art. Even though he wasn't particularly familiar with painting, Flood pursued the medium in what seemed a natural progression that allowed greater freedom to his expanding voice as an artist.
Flood speaks highly of both the BFA Illustration and Fine Arts programs and emphasizes the positive experiences and meaningful connections, many of which he continues to treasure today, that he garnered throughout his course of study. As for advice to prospective students and graduates, Flood remembers a professional development class* for BFA students, but wishes he would have had more time to learn about the business and marketing side of art as a profession. When he joined his first gallery, signed a contract, and had his first solo show, he says he quickly realized the importance of understanding the business side in order to make a profession and income as an artist. "You can paint all you want, but the other half is getting out there and making yourself known."
Ticket to Success
Flood does not take for granted the support system he's had from a young age, both from family and friends and fellow artists.
"I was so lucky to have such a solid supportive group of artists at Lesley...My parents were awesome. They always supported me with whatever...I was lucky enough to have a group of friends to challenge each other."
Flood credits his strong support system for keeping him motivated and working hard to get his work shown. Immediately upon graduating from Lesley's BFA program in 2005, he started working in a studio in Abington, one that he found surreptitiously while working with a roofing company during his time at Lesley. A fellow classmate and friend suggested that he build a studio space in that very building, which is just what he did. He also jumped right in to sell and develop his work, approaching restaurants, bars, and galleries for every opportunity to display his paintings. And it worked. He made a name for himself and enjoyed meeting new people, with many of whom he still keeps in touch. Supplementing his income with roofing, construction, and work with moving companies, Flood says he worked full time and painted at night and on the weekends.
"It's very difficult. You're working and you have to survive and make money. It's like you have to live a double life: work and start painting."
This diligence and relentless effort yielded something all artists covet: Sean Flood is now a full-time artist and has been for several years.
Undoubtedly other projects and cities to explore and paint are on the horizon for this busy artist. As a painter who captures the dynamism of cityscapes, traveling is a natural obsession. A trip to Europe last year across thirteen cities proved to be particularly meaningful as Flood was able to visit a long-awaited destination in Naples, Italy. "I was dying to go there," he confesses. Of Naples Flood says, "It was pretty grimy, tiny alleyways, very busy – but perfect; like walking into my own idea of a painting."
When asked about where he'd like to make his next destination, Flood couldn't give just one place. "As for new spots," he says, "there are so many I can't even begin to name them."
*Lesley University College of Art and Design has expanded professional development training and education for undergraduates. Studio assistantships and mandatory internships are facilitated and a range of professional development classes are now offered.