Steven Harrington is an artist, designer and entrepreneur. Based in Los Angeles where he lives and works, Steven creates his signature symbols, patterns and characters in a vibrant and colorful Californian palette inspired by his native environment. Known for his collaborative work with a number of companies, including Generic Surplus with whom he has just designed a sneaker, Steven also heads his own creative studio, National Forest, from which he operates on a day-to-day basis. Most recently, Steven’s exhibition, Insideout, has opened at L.A.’s Known Gallery, and brings together an extensive array of prints, paintings, sketches, objects, sculptures and more. POST NEW caught up with the prolific artist for a chat to coincide with the exhibition. Read the entire interview here.
POST NEW: Where do you call home and what is the best thing about where you live?
Steven Harrington: I live in the hills of South Pasadena, a suburb of L.A. I grew up in Southern California and its landscapes and mystique have been very influential in my work. I find the vastness of Los Angeles extremely charming: the weather is radical year-round, and there are always new destinations to be discovered. The ocean and the mountains are just a short drive away and the mix of cultures here is epic.
PN: How do you spend a usual day?
SH: I spend most of my weekdays at National Forest, the creative studio that I co-own and operate located Los Angeles, California, but the days are rarely usual. Sometimes I’m tricking out pieces with neon spray paint, sometimes I’m screenprinting posters, sometimes I’m working for clients, and sometimes I’m working on a T-shirt graphic or art for ourselves, it all depends on what projects are on deck. I also make sure to spend several days of the week concentrating on personal projects and focusing on ‘art time.’ On the weekends I just try to be outside as much as possible.
PN: What artists inspired you when you were growing up?
SH: My mom, first and foremost. And there are a handful of people I seem to turn to repeatedly, like Hemmingway, Bill Withers, Milton Glaser, Claes Oldenburg, K. Haring, and Tadanori Yokoo. Their work is timeless.
PN: Your aesthetic is quite unique, can you please describe your style of work in your own words?
SH: A lot of my work revolves around the idea of community, and feelings of connectedness. It’s why I like making things with my hands, objects that are tangible and can really convey those feelings of human interaction. I want my work to spark something in whoever’s looking at it. I’m not sure I could describe my own aesthetic because it’s such an intuitive process, but those are the ideas that inform every aspect of it.
PN: What inspires you on a daily basis now?
SH: Inspiration can come from just about anywhere. Lately, I’ve realized how important it is to get out of the studio. Without outside stimulation you can just spiral into the process of creating. You can end up making art about art which isn’t exciting for anyone. Just being out in the world is inspiring, whether it’s catching a few early morning waves at the beach or taking a road trip to the desert or simply riding my skateboard to the liquor store on the corner. Those everyday human experiences end up being really meaningful.