From tagging the streets to painting for the privileged – a local artist is making big money from graffiti art.
A local street artist you maybe never heard of can now brag his handiwork has caught the attention of big names in the worlds of hip-hop, the NBA and on Wall Street – some even willing to pay upwards of five figures for some pieces.
Twenty-eight-year old Seek One may still be slapping himself that Quavo, the rapper from Migos, hit him up on Instagram asking to buy one of his paintings not long ago. Shortly thereafter, he got a call from Josh Richardson, the newly drafted player for the Philadelphia 76ers. Then he got a call from “The Big Bang Theory”’s Kaley Cuoco, and suddenly – wow – was he making it big?
Seek One, who was raised in the Philly suburbs and now lives in Rittenhouse Square, grew up a skater kid. Like many, he was a young graffiti artist, tagging walls and buildings, street signs, spooky subterranean areas – any surface was his canvas. Now, he takes the inspiration from his doodling days and creates a different kind of art.
What he does is use large silk screens made of various pop culture and urban images – everything from Kate Moss and Mick Jagger to a Good Year tire ad and a Rolling Stone cover – and prints that onto wood panels, then finish them with epoxy resin. He also works with mixed media, including old newspaper clips and large printouts layered with oils, acrylics and spray paint.
He said: “With the different layers of paint and paper, you can really rough it up and give it that street vibe, but then it’s on a nicely made wood panel and finished with epoxy resin so it can also be hung in a white room gallery so it hits both ends of the spectrum as far as art goes.”
Seek One (whose real name is Rob) said he has used various tags over time until he found one that really stuck. He said there isn’t much meaning behind the name, but what drew him to it was the aesthetics of how the letters “fit together.”
Today, you’d be lucky to find any of his graffiti still in FDR Park or in Philly’s subway system. Much has been tagged over.
“If you’re around Center City, there may be a few things still around on street signs,” he said.
In addition to Quavo from Migos, his first celeb client, his work has been bought by basketball players Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons, reality TV star Jonathan Cheban a/k/a “Foodgod,” NYC “Jeweler to the Stars” Richie Rich and others.
Prints on his website advertise for $200, but those with deep pockets can buy from galleries all over the east coast for as much as five figures.
“I sell them at that price point because I want [people] to be able to have art in their home,” Seek One said.
“Whether they can spend $10,000 or they can afford $200 – the reason I make art is to make people happy… In galleries, they start selling at $3,000 to $4,000 and go up to $12,000 to $15,000. People can get a print and it’s a little more tangible for someone who doesn’t have as much disposable income.”
Asked where he sees himself in the future, Seek One said he hopes to become a household name and have his art hanging in homes and galleries all over the world.
“My plan for this year is to branch out… By the end of 2020, I’d like to have partnerships across the country. I have a few target markets I’d like to address, and then go international. But I definitely love Philly and I don’t see myself leaving here anytime soon.”
Those interested in seeing Seek One’s work can go to Corridor Contemporary art gallery in Fishtown, which is hosting a First Friday event on Feb. 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. It already has several of his newer pieces on display. You can also find Seek One’s artwork in the downstairs lounge of Scarpetta restaurant in the Rittenhouse Hotel in Rittenhouse Square.