GOING SOLO: In 1993, I was working at IBM and met a girl who
shared a house with some artists. One day, they brought out some
supplies, and I started painting and couldn't stop. I started
strategizing ways to paint full time. I set up a Web site, www.sesow.com.
I saved up a lot of money. I got rid of my car. I bought my apartment
with IBM stock. The day I got laid off from a dot-com, in 2001, I
stopped by CD Warehouse and said, "I want to hang my paintings here."
I've been living off my art ever since. All I have to come up with
every month is a condo fee, health insurance and some brown rice.
STYLIN': I started out looking at pictures and trying to paint
them. They always turned out really bizarre-looking: The eyes, the
mouth, the teeth were way too big. People liked it. Eventually I
started painting things that happened to me: When I was 8 years old, I
was playing in a field by an airstrip and was struck by a landing
airplane. The propeller severed my arm. So I've painted people missing
limbs, people pointing at someone with a disability.
Thanks, dot-com bust! Layoffs allowed Matt Sesow to chase his true passion.
(J Carrier For The Washington Post)
The Post's new section offers entertainment listings, advice, local
travel guides, home, food and shopping news and other practical
• More in Sunday Source
Jewish Prayer Shawl Weaver (The Washington Post, Apr 24, 2005)
Movie Makers (The Washington Post, Apr 17, 2005)
Alignment Authority (The Washington Post, Apr 10, 2005)
Arborist (The Washington Post, Apr 3, 2005)
Ceramics Connoisseur (The Washington Post, Mar 27, 2005)
ART SCHOOL: People put me in this folk-art/outsider-art group
because of the disability and the rawness of my paintings, and because
I'm self-taught. But I think "outsider" is a term that's almost like
victim art. I want to reset the expectations in the art world, so I
actively promote myself. I'm my own boss. I'm my own agent. I'm my
NETWORKED: When I set up online in 1995, I'd search out sites
that showed art and e-mail them saying, "I'd love a link from you." I
did that probably 800 times. If you do a search on "Sesow" on Google,
I'm up to 2,500 hits. I get around 500 individuals visiting the site a
day. I don't think a gallery is going to get that.
ON THE ROAD: I'm always working. When curators ask me to be in a
show, I go. I had a five-day solo show in January in New York, and I'll
have a solo show in D.C. at the end of April in Dupont Circle [at
Art+Works+Wonders, 2122 P St. NW, Suite 303]. My paintings are pretty
inexpensive, so anybody can afford a small one, and I'll do a sliding
scale. I like the idea of somebody paying $4,000 for a large painting
and then a college kid buying a little thing for 10 or 20 bucks. Better
my stuff than a poster.
As told to Nicole M. Miller
Curious about a topic? The Source will hunt down an expert. E-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and daytime