Born and raised on the sleepy island of Oahu, Hawaiian surfer Sean Yoro learnt to appreciate life under a slow and careful gaze. When he stumbled into an art class as a teenager, his world was flipped on its head, and a new passion for painting pulled him towards New York City, where his life would be changed forever. We caught up with the incredibly talented artist, who has found a fascinating way to combine both of his great passions: the ocean and art.
Has art always existed alongside your passion for surfing? How do they fit together?
It wasn’t until my late teenage years that art really grabbed my attention. It first was with graffiti and tattoos, then slowly transitioned into fine arts and portraits.
My paintings have always been inspired by my love for the ocean and water in general, but with the seaside murals the two passions of my life almost literally combined into one idea.
Have you done any formal training or are you self-taught?
I actually stumbled into a portrait drawing class. I fell in love from the first class and took a couple more classes before moving up to New York City the following summer.
From there I was self-taught, using everything from books to youtube videos in order to teach myself different techniques and skills.
Your paintings are almost always portraits of women, could you explain the inspiration behind this?
I enjoy capturing emotions and feelings that I can’t put into words, with that women have always been a better subject for my paintings. Their soft and delicate features really help to set the moods I want and how I connect with the paintings personally.
Where did you grow up? How was creativity embraced and celebrated in your culture?
I grew up on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The Hawaiian culture I was raised in really embraced the slower paced life and appreciating your environment.
When I traveled and more noticeably when I moved to New York City, I saw the difference in other cultures and what they valued.
There are so many different perspectives and environments to grow up in, I feel like the work I create shows what Hawaii has taught me, to appreciate the subtle moments of beauty too often overlooked.
Tell me about your series of outdoor mural work depicting partially submerged women?
The original idea was sparked when I was working on a separate project. Since water has always been my main inspiration, I had the idea to paint portraits of girls underwater.
While doing the photo shoots for these paintings, I realized how much I loved to be in the water while working creatively.
With these murals I hoped to capture the relationship I have with my environment.
What is it about art that keeps you coming back and creating more?
It’s the craving I get to keep capturing moments and feelings with my paints that I can’t express with words. I also love seeing others connect with my paintings in their own way, it’s a feeling that will never get old for me.