Tagging Along with Artist Blair Urban
If there’s one idea that Blair Urban hopes people get from her artwork, it’s to appreciate the moment. Urban herself had lost that concept of “living in the now” for a brief period following high school. After an entire childhood dedicated to art, suddenly the California native was at UC Irvine, not painting. “I was going through some changes in my life,” she explains. “I kind of lost touch with the artistic side of myself.” Urban needed a reminder of her passion, and as the old saying goes, “That’s what friends are for.”
“Some friends of mine were really stoked on my art,” she remembers. “They saw some of my paintings and said, ‘You have to keep doing this!’ Having that encouragement helped me to decide to paint again.” Not only did her friends love her work, but one friend offered up quite the space to practice on—his own walls. Says Urban: “Last May, one of my friends showed me his new apartment; he had a room painted by a graffiti writer. There’s no graffiti where I come from and I didn’t get out to the city that much, so I wasn’t exposed to it. So I was like, ‘That’s really cool. I like to paint walls.’” But when it came to the graffiti style of artwork, however, Urban had her doubts. “I didn’t really see myself doing it,” she confesses. “I didn’t really draw graffiti-style artwork. My friend thought I could do it, though, so I bought two bags of spray paint, showed up the next day, and painted his room.”
While painting her friend’s wall, people were coming in, admiring her work, and giving her more info on where she could work on graffing (the art of graffitiing). “I found out that I could paint at Venice Beach, so I went last summer almost every day in the heat wave and painted on the walls out there. I met a lot of graffiti writers and learned more about the art and the culture. I got really inspired by the raw passion and energy and colors. It’s a really intense beauty that just radiates.” Her tag is “Sesoh.” Seso is the Spanish word for “brain,” and Urban added an “h” at the end “to balance it out.”
Urban’s graffiti talent originates from the same place inside her that her other artwork comes from. “It’s the same crazy, chaotic stuff that’s going on in my mind…I’m thinking about life, not the artwork.” She’s also thinking about skulls. “I paint a lot of skulls,” she adds. “I like to paint skulls, not because I’m morbid or anything; I don’t think that skulls represent death so much as they represent life.” This flipped idea on the skull ties in perfectly with her message of appreciating the moment. Reversing most people’s feelings on skulls isn’t the only idea Urban is looking to redefine, however, she’s also determined to change the way people look at femininity.
“The whole idea of femininity have been so misconstrued,” she says. “As a culture, I don’t think we really know what it means to be female and I think this happened over the centuries with war and masculine-dominated ideas like conquering and taking over. All these things completely overshadowed and put females in this weird box, and I don’t think any of us fit in it.” Although she admits, “I don’t really have a list of words for what a female should be!” But Urban does feel there are a few qualities women should attempt to embody: “I think you shouldn’t be afraid to define yourself. Instead, really get to know yourself and be who you want to be and not afraid to be female.”
– words by Adam Bernard
For more beautiful artwork by Blair, check out: myspace.com/sesoh254p.