FRIEND FEATURE #1: Seanings by Sean Williams

Ever since I started brainstorming about what to include as blog content, I knew that I wanted to write a few posts on the creative people around me, what they create, and how they stay creative and inspired. At first, I wasn't sure if that topic would warrant an ongoing series (silly me!) but when I sat down and started jotting down people's names that came to mind, I was pleasantly surprised at, and felt so grateful for, the number of creative, inspirational people in my life! I often find myself in awe of the products of a creative, artistic, or innovative mind so I'm very excited to be starting this series called Friend Feature.

Meet Sean Williams: photographer, ultimate frisbee player, soon-to-be-dad (!!!), and fellow (wimpy) NP tribe member (wimpy because we disappear from NP when multiple layers of clothing are required for prevention of frostbite), with a soft spot for Jamaican and Italian food and big love for family and those close to him. He's married to Cristy, who is equally creative (check out her and her friend's adorable and intricate cake pop designs at, and they are ecstatic to be welcoming their first little one next year. I met Sean at November Project Canada this past summer where I learned that if you have a smile on your face after doing what felt like a gazillion burpees and hips-in-hugging another sweaty human (which means that inevitably, you exchange sweat) at 6:30AM, you've got a beginning of a pretty cool friendship!

I saw a Seaning for the first time on Sean's Instagram and was intrigued by it, but also very impressed when I found out that Sean had designed it himself. So I did what any normal person would do: insta-creep. Soon enough, I had followed (and looked at all photos posted on) @seanings, browsed through all the different Seanings in the online shop, and had multiple items in my shopping cart. Since then, I've gotten to know Sean and his wife Cristy a bit better (from running into them at the City Market and subbing for their ultimate team with Mandy!) and whittled down my choices to the Heisenberg and Canada tee. 

What is a Seaning? It's art in the form of type design, created by Sean, through a complex process that can take 15 hours from start to finish! You can buy them as prints, t-shirts, and phone cases. Even though Seanings is based out of Edmonton, thanks to technology, they can be found all over the internet: McDonald's Australia, Buzzfeed, and Snoop Dogg instagram-ing his Snoop Dogg phone case. Recently, Sean used his skills to create this type design for November Project Canada's v2.0 buffs!

Q & A with Sean, the creative mind behind Seanings:

H: Can you give us a short background on yourself?
I'm originally from Toronto and received my Bachelor of Design in Advertising from OCAD University. Since then I've worked as an art director for a variety of ad agencies. I've always been a creative person, I play the piano and guitar and used to love drawing super heroes as a kid. My interest in photography grew while I was in advertising and after I moved to Edmonton I began shooting more lifestyle and commercial jobs on the side.

H: When and how did Seanings start? 
My first type illustrations were Kanye West, Jay Z and Rihanna, which I created right when I graduated in 2009 to add to my art director portfolio. I thought it was fresh concept and made them as mock ads for Much Vibe. The illustration style was something I wanted to try out and wasn't even sure if it would work the way I want. The artwork was well received and it wasn't until 2013 that my friends encouraged me to make more of the designs. At this time I had a creative itch so I figured I'd make a few more designs and see how things went. I evolved the style into something I was much happier with, made a few pop culture inspired type portraits and before I knew it my artwork had gone viral being spread from BuzzFeed to countless other social sites. I now sell the illustrations on shirts and prints, it's super cool to see where my orders come from, all thanks to the internet!

H: When and/or how do you fit designing for Seanings into your already busy schedule?
When Seanings first started I was working full time at an ad agency so I'd spend early mornings, late nights and weekends creating my art. It never felt like a sacrifice because I was passionate about what I was creating, which was very exciting.

H: What inspires and motivates you to continue to be creative?
Initially my inspiration for the illustrations was music, that's where the core concept stemmed from. It was later down the road that I branched out with the versatility of the concept and applied it to tv characters and other iconic figures. The motivation has and always will be to create something that I think is cool and unique. The social media following is also very encouraging. It's incredible to know that my artwork is being worn or shared with someone on the other side of the world. That idea just blows my mind.

H: Describe the process behind your Seanings creations.
It all starts with an idea and whether I feel that I can execute a type illustration well enough to do justice to the character I'm trying to portray. I then do my research to go through discographies or filmographies to familiarize myself with the subject. To create the artwork I use a combination of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I start with a photo, create a stencil from it, rough out where I plan to place each word, then transfer that image to my iPad where I do all of my illustrations with a stylus.

H: Do you have a favourite design?
I think Bob Marley would be my favourite design, I've always loved his music. The typography always looks great when the portraits have long flowing hair. My family is Jamaican so when I made the design I got everybody shirts, which they loved.

H: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I never expected Seanings to take off the way it did. Since the inception of Seanings I left the ad agency I was at and have gone full time with my illustration work and photography. I've been commissioned to create type portraits for Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Kaskade, Lady Gaga and just wrapped up an ad campaign for McDonalds in Australia. I have no idea what's in store for next year, but I plan to keep making more designs as the requests keep coming in.


Aren't you glad you "met" him? Not only has Sean become a successful lifestyle and commercial photographer (some of his work is on billboards around Edmonton!) and rounded up a great following for his Seanings designs, he is also a super nice, down-to-earth person who's easy to get along with! Connect with Seanings via Instagram/Twitter/Facebook @Seanings and check out the full Seaning portfolio at Shop for your very own Seaning at - they make great gifts, too!

Big thanks to November Project for connecting Edmontonians like us and a huge thanks to Sean for sharing his art (:

(All photos in this blog post were provided by Sean Williams)


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