We had the good fortune of connecting with Sebastian Keefe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sebastian, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I wanted to express myself. I knew i had something to share that was wholly mine. I am inspired by my brother (songwriter, producer) and sister (jewelry designer) and their total love and dedication to their art. I thought, why not me? Putting myself out-there has been frightening, but so rewarding. After seeing those closest to me succeed, it gave me the courage to believe in my own ideas and has inspired me to throw myself completely into my own artistic expression. In photography i found a world that excites me, fuels me, and expands the way i think. I moved to LA when i was 20 and im 35 now. And like so many others that moved west it’s been a long march of moderate successes and failures, major life events like losing a parent and getting married. As well as profound lifestyle changes and existential crises, like getting sober (4 years!) and telling my older brother with whom i had moved to LA, that it was time for me to set out on my own endeavor. I’ve been the ‘jack of all trades: LA edition’. I spent a decade touring in a band, I’ve worked in TV production, was a live-in handyman in Beachwood Canyon. Early on I folded clothes in a garish clothing store on Robertson for 8 bucks an hour, and I’ve dug holes and laid cinder block walls more recently than i’d probably like to admit! But throughout all these different pursuits, i came to the awareness that when i looked up from my position, it was the creatives that are truly free, and i wanted to be free. I have been very good at playing drums, and digging holes and assisting other photographers. But to use a car anology, I decided I wanted to be the engine not a wheel.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I struggle identifying myself as an artist! I experience imposter syndrome ALL THE TIME. I grew up with very creative, gifted siblings, and within a larger community that seemed to overflow with artists like songwriters, painters, sculptors and even poets. And they all seemed to possess something unexplainable that i didn’t have, and so for years i worked in creative fields but towards other people’s creative expressions. In the self-realization book The Artists Way, the author tells us that dotted throughout the world are creative souls with so much to share but they never reach to express themselves, and instead work adjacent to artists: A Camera assistant. The artist’s assistant. The receptionist at a gallery etc. I spent a lot of time adjacent to artists who were diving into their work with their entire being, without expressing myself – even though i had things i wanted to share. It’s scary! How many thousands of photos did i take that never saw the light of day! How many times did i start writing a book? Many. How many songs did i write, produce and never release? Dozens! I was a shadow artist surrounded working artists who are putting themselves into the world. The most difficult part of my journey in Photography was starting to look at my creative expression as something with value and purpose. It takes a certain amount of honesty and reflection to create art and that is pretty tough. My current series of photos is a reflection of how i feel in this world today. Sounds simple enough, and very basic. But It’s really uncomfortable to ask yourself these questions and the answers are sometimes not what I want to find. But i think this is where craft becomes art. What do i have to say? What am i feeling? It’s been really rewarding but it’s terrifying. Anyone out there need an assistant?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Great question! I would try to mix it up. I’m sort of a dork in bed by 10 with my book. BUT since you asked: I’d definitely include at least one beach day in Malibu and Topanga area to go for a dip, and gawk at the mansions. Fish tacos at Reel Inn or Thai food at Cholada on PCH – so good! One day would be a mountain hike in the San Gabriels. Strawberry peak is my favorite mountain to hike (or trail run). If it’s winter it’s cool to see snow up there while it’s hot and sunny down here. I always stop at Panera (yep) to get a tea or coffee before cruising up the winding Angeles crest highway. Lookout for the car clubs driving like maniacs though. A visit to my studio Downtown in the fashion district. And stroll through Santee Alley is a must. For lunch Little tokyo for sushi or Ramen. Go to see the art on display at Hauser and Wirth. Later maybe some cheap seats at a Dodgers game? The museums! Oh man i love the museums in LA. The Getty and The Broad are obviously epic. But I really like the Norton Simon in Pasadena too. Lunch at Culture Club 101 for tasty and healthy local cultured and fermented food. A stop-by to visit my sister who lives in Pasadena. Dinner at CHIM! for authentic street Thai food. So delicious. Honorable mentions include eating at Dune in Atwater, and Pine and Crane in Silverlake. Cafe Tropical makes a good strong cuban coffee and pastries. Summer movie night at Hollywood Forever cemetery. Camera swap meet and the Rose Bowl flea market both in Pasadena. Hollywood bowl or the Greek theatre for a concert is really worth the effort too.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife Jessica deserves A LOT of credit! She has been so supportive of me. When we were first dating i was playing in a band full time. After a year or so I had my moment of clarity and courage, discussing with her my desire to leave the music business to pursue photography full time. Up to this point photography had been a passion of mine, but i had no idea where to begin. She was rightfully a little dubious at first. I think nowadays i’m starting to convince her it was the right path! Jess leads by example in her own lifework as an actress. She is brave and dedicated, and i admire her work ethic. She’s my confidante when i doubt myself, my rock when i’m a little lost, and my biggest supporter. I am super grateful to be married to such a wise and wonderful woman.