Our first ever

Sean Hipkin 

In celebration of Swift Industries 10 Year Anniversary, Sean Hipkin hand painted one of our Horizon Line Zeitgeist Saddle Bags. We left Sean to his devices knowing that he’d make amazing use of the bag as his canvas.

Our hearts skipped a beat when we saw what he had made!


Name: Sean Hipkin (@horizonlines)
Location: Bay Area CA

SI: Howdy!  Wanna tell folks a bit about yourself?
SH: I am a freelance illustrator, painter, old stuff collector, bicycle rider, and beginner trail runner. Currently I am a Senior at the California College of the Arts pursuing a bachelor degree in illustration. I love breakfast food and fixing things. One time, when someone was asked to describe what animal I would be, they said I was a deer. I think this is pretty accurate. I started freelancing illustration work two years ago. Since then I’ve worked for companies like Rhetoric Coffee, Illustoria Magazine, Rivendell Bicycle works, and the lovely Swift Industries, to name a few.

SI: What three adjectives best describe you?
SH: Long, tan, and handsome.

SI: How would you describe your art?
SH: Whimsical, narrative, quiet, adventure-driven, but also a little bit spooky.

SI: Tell us a little bit about your love for bikes, and how you landed in with the Rivendell Crew in the Bay Area
SH: My love for bikes is centered around just how dang fun they are! I’ve never been into competition so I’ve always found activities that are self-driven like skateboarding, running, and riding bikes. Bikes also exposed me to camping. The first time I ever went camping was on a bicycle. I also love the bicycle’s ability to push you to your lowest lows but then bring you back almost instantaneously to your highest high. I found Rivendell through their first Hunqapillar video. After realizing it was in my town (Walnut Creek) I started dropping by. I really enjoyed the Rivendell philosophy because I was a DIY punk skater kid who to this day doesn’t want anything to do with organized sports or stretchy outfits. Soon after I graduated high school I got a call from Riv offering me a job. I worked there for 3 wonderful years.

SI: What doors have bicycles opened in life?
SH: Oh man! So many! I’ve met so many wonderful people through bikes. It’s pretty awesome that people I used to follow on flickr (pre insta) are now some of my closest friends know. The bike world has also allowed me to have friends in every place I’ve traveled to. I believe the first time we met in person was when I slept on [Swift Industries’] floor hah! The bike world has also given me so many great connections for illustration work and I’m grateful for that.

SI: How do bicycles play a part in your creative process?
SH: Bikes have always been my outlet to escape the normal day-to-day routine. I am happiest when I’m moving and I love to draw things that are also my hobbies, so a lot of my personal art is bike and nature themed. I also come up with a lot of my ideas while riding my bike.

SI: What have you discovered about yourself through illustration?
SH: Probably that I am a complete romantic and that I’m very detail oriented. I’ve tried to loosen up but it’s really really hard for me. I also discovered that I’m very process driven. I don’t really make anything if I don’t have a reason to. When I do make things I work really fast, almost like I’m trying to get it over with. It’s just my style. I really do enjoy the process and focus that comes with making illustrations. It’s just that if I don’t have a reason to sit down and make a picture I would probably rather be riding my bike.

SI: It seems like art can be an incredible communication device, what would you like to tell people through your artwork?
SH: That it is ok to be a dreamer, and that a childlike curiosity about your surroundings is a great quality to have.
SI: Can you give us the inner workings of the creative process of taking a piece from concept to canvas?
SH: This piece is titled Sleep Outside.

I start my process by working out a sketch on tracing paper or my iPad. Once I finalize the sketch I transfer the final line work, using a light table, to watercolor paper. I then begin the final painting using a mix of gouache paint and color pencil. I try to get the final painting as close to final as possible but I often add in elements and value digitally so I can alter and change things as needed. Because probably 90% of my work appears on products, the web, or for print, most of my finals are digital files. I just finished a few pieces that were 100% digital but I’m still not totally comfortable working in that way. I have plans to finish some original paintings for a show this summer.

SI: You’ve been working at a print shop, can you tell us a little bit about the studio.
SH: 3 Fish Studios is the quirky private art studio of Eric Rewitzer and Annie Galvin. The studio is open to the public and pretty much the best, most friendly creative environment I’ve ever known. Eric has been a great mentor to me. We have big windows and a great backyard with a California shaped table.

SI: You’re about to finish art school, what comes next?
SH: The big question! Well, I’m moving back to San Francisco from Oakland, and I plan to take on the children’s book industry head on. I would LOVE to start illustrating children’s books or young reader chapter books. It’s pretty much my number one goal at this point. Other than that, I plan to continue working at 3 Fish Studios and doing freelance illustration work.

SI: Where can folks find your work?
SH: I’m on instagram as @horizonlines and my website is seanhipkin.com!

SI:. How can we support your work?
SH: Oh gosh, you can follow me on instagram! That’s where I post upcoming shows, projects, and bikey stuff. You can also check out my online shop that will be opening up in May. If you have a project that fits with my style feel free to email me! PS: I’ve been looking into children book illustration agents so if you are one of those, let’s talk 🙂

SI: Anything important we haven’t asked? Tell us! Do you have a show up, any upcoming openings, any passion projects that are in the works?
SH: First off, I’d like to thank Swift for giving me the opportunity for this interview and for hiring me early on in my illustration career. Right now I’m just working on some personal projects for my portfolio, building a new website, and finishing up school. I have a few illustrations coming out soon in the bikey world so keep an eye out! This coming summer I’ll be teaching a class at The Yonder Shop in SF on my process, and I have a little show at Fayes Video in SF as well. That’s all for now!