Art is an Experiment with Sebastian Abboud

Art is an Experiment with Sebastian Abboud
If you scroll through Sebastian Abboud’s Instagram page, you’ll see a broad collection of styles, colors, characters, and doodles that have a punchy and joyful feel. For Sebastian, whose career has gone full circle from corporate graphic designer to a teacher and freelance creative, his influences and ethos can be traced back to skateboarding.

Getting his first skateboard at age 14, Sebastian’s whole worldview was immediately broadened: “It just changed everything - skateboarding opened up a lot of avenues of self expression for me.” With a low barrier to entry and an inclusive, accessible environment, Sebastian started paying attention to and understanding the visual culture associated with skateboarding: from the graphics on the undersides of skate decks to brightly colored logos on shoes. This ultimately led to his interest in art and design.

“It just changed everything - skateboarding opened up a lot of avenues of self expression for me.”

Throughout his school years, Sebastian was creating and editing skate videos and designing the opening titles, which gave him an idea of what a career as a graphic designer would look like. Ultimately obtaining a multimedia degree in college, Sebastian moved into working in the corporate designer world. But alongside his full time work, Sebastian was still creating on the side - from stickers, to t-shirts, to skate decks. “I was able to just make stuff - no one was telling me what to do.”

Sebastian eventually chose creative freedom over the structured, stringent corporate world. After quitting his job, Sebastian and his wife, who’s also a creative, moved to Vancouver Island. That’s where Sebastian started making art regularly - in several different styles - and posting to various platforms such as Instagram, Dribbble, and Twitter. “This taught me to be really loose, and quick, and not to get too attached to any work I put out there. I don’t have any formal training, so I never took it too seriously.”

A collage of images and previous doodles that Sebastian has created. In the top left is a collage with a black background that is comprised of many colorful doodles and objects. To the right is a yellow background collage where the primary subject is dark-sinned and holding a smart phone. Colorful art is jumping from the screen and onto the canvas. Lastly, the bottom right is a collage of positive statements with a diverse range of people.

Far Out is a perfect example of Sebastian’s quick, loose drawing style. A collection of everyday objects and recurring characters, you can see hints of Sebastian’s environment and daily influences: A classic skate shoe. A pencil. An orca, representative of his coastal life on Vancouver Island. “It’s almost like a stream of consciousness - if I had sat down a couple hours later, it would’ve looked totally different!”

Sebastian is working today as a full time freelance artist designer and part time teacher at VIU Graphic Design. With influences ranging from Ed Templeton to Barry McGee to Geoff McFetridge, Sebastian’s evolution as an artist is never finished. “One thing I always tell my students is that everything should be seen as an experiment. I feel like I’m never done… I don’t want to reach a plateau. It’s always a constant evolution, and I don’t think there’s ever an end point.”

Sebastian lives in Vancouver Island, BC with his wife and twin toddlers. You can see more of his work here.

Shop Sebastian's puzzle, Far Out
Learn more about Sebastian's charity of choice, Unicef