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(Image: Sean Vergara)

Artist of the Week: Sean Vergara

Sean Vergara is a visual artist based in Seattle who creates custom footwear.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? What mediums do you work with?
Sean Vergara: I have been creating since I was very young. I started with drawing and coloring, which grew into a painting and drawing focus as I got older. In high school, I began learning how to work with footwear as a medium while I flipped used sneakers to make money. Currently, most of my work is done with a process that includes acrylic paints and dyes, as well as additive and subtractive material processes using sneakers and football cleats.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
Beginning with an idea or direction, I determine the style and attitude I want a piece to project. I examine the structure of my base sneaker/cleat and how its existing elements can be factored into the design most successfully, whether it's colors, shapes, materials, or form. I will follow up by creating a digital mock-up to make sure I approve the design and plan for the best way to execute it. The process of creating my work involves three steps: 1. Preparing the surfaces for application of whichever materials are needed. 2. Applying paints, dyes, new materials, etc. 3. Finishing the project with protective processes and decorative details.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art comes from.
I draw inspiration from many places. Some of my favorite aesthetics come from vintage sports design, the merging of high fashion and streetwear, and, obviously, the history and development of footwear. Currently, I'm most inspired by the idea of seamlessly applying new elements to performance footwear that elevate the identity that sneakers and cleats can provide their users.

Do you have a specific "beat" you like best – nature, food, profiles, etc.?
Footwear has a way of making statements, and thoughtful, well-designed footwear can convey the emotions of its theme. My beat is the intersection of culture, sports, and fashion.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
Every once in a while, I get an idea that I know will be innovative in my niche. When that certain design element comes to mind, and I find a way to perfectly apply it so that it pushes the barriers of this craft, those are the special pieces.

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I attended the University of Washington and earned a spot on the football team via walk-on tryouts. Those four years taught me about the commitment it takes to refine your craft and how those lessons can be applied to my growth as a creative.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
Instagram is where I share updates about my latest projects and photos of my work, @seantehdon.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
It's My Cause My Cleats time in the NFL currently, and I get the opportunity to tell visual stories for the players and shed light on important causes using my exact medium.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? (We ask everyone!)
I don't drink coffee.

About 'Artist of the Week': Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.