Hailing from Tuscon but planting his flag in California, artist Seth Bogart began his creative career making music before pursuing visual art. Nowadays both work hand in hand in an exuberant practice spanning painting, music, ceramics and more – despite Seth never actually going to art school, explaining that he has “no formal training in art, except for taking a few classes with old ladies.”
Across these practices however the artist has a love for nonfunctional objects, becoming growingly renowned for his ceramic book collection which conveys strong sensibilities of passion and identity, through his use of charismatically crude mark making. Beginning a few years ago when the artist made a ceramic SCUM manifesto by Valerie Solanas, “and then made a couple more books because they were really fun to do,” Seth explains his pieces are “kinda fetish objects in a way”.
First displayed in a show at Fierman Gallery, Circus of Books, celebrating the iconic book store of the same name and where the artist displayed his edition of Larry Kramer's Faggots, Seth explains that within his ceramic library there is a “a heavy emphasis on ‘lesbian classics’, like Rubyfruit Jungle, SCUM Manifesto and The Price of Salt.” Later, the artist received a show of his very own at the gallery titled Library Fantasy Vol One, explaining to us that, in his fantasies, “everything is free (library) and not for sale (bookstore).”
Now with a growing library of his own, Seth’s selection of books he chooses to immortalise is the result of a candid process. Ranging from the books he’s obsessed with, to the ones saved in a folder on his phone, or just “covers I came across that are begging to be made into ceramics,” Seth explains that many titles “changed my life in some ways,” whereas a “few others I haven't even read!” His personal favourites however include Cookie Mueller’s Garden of Ashes, The Life and Times of Little Richard by Charles White and Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, telling us “the actual books mean a lot to me, long live Cookie Mueller, Little Richard and Yoko Ono.”
With work as vivid and frolicsome as Seth’s, it’s no wonder his artistic process is equally as energetic. “My general creative practice bounces between making music, ceramics, painting, designing clothes for Wacky Wacko, drawing, and performing,” he explains, although noting that he is far from desperate to perform digitally. “I think my secret is being able to run to the next thing when I’m bored,” Seth remarks, however finding the same blessing a curse, as he admits: “I never focus long enough on anything.” That being said, it seems Seth can’t stop his creative drive – recently releasing his new album Men on the verge of nothing on his own record label Wacky Wacko.
The sincere and unequivocally honest demeanour viewers will recognise in his work certainly comes from the man himself too. As made handsomely clear in a discussion of book cover design “I hate the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’” Seth tells us. “Oh really??? Of course I’m gonna judge you if you have an ugly ass cover,” aptly concluding that, “sometimes, my favourite parts of books are the covers.”
Seth Bogart: Untitled (Copyright © Seth Bogart, 2020)
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. He nows works as a freelance writer and designer, and is one half of Studio Ground Floor.