Sebastian Park: Identity as Medium

[This post was originally published on my self-hosted blog on June 15, 2016 at 7:30 pm. Migrated to Medium on Jan 6, 2020.]

Sometime last November, I got unusually high off caffeine while at work, and somehow had this epiphany / crazy idea: What if for one of my art projects, I created and lived as a completely different identity — an alter ego as a canvas? Basically, what if I tried to live two completely different lives at once? Haha..

To give some context, I’ve been doing some art projects here and there since last May when I took a printmaking class at Stanford and realized just how easy it is to “do art,” or do something and just call it art. I found this concept very funny and exploitable yet interesting, and started making “anti-art” for the sole purpose of making fun of art. This gradually turned into satirical art (like my “Drowning Student” piece or “Stanford’s Soup Cans” piece), and eventually I (ironically) found myself legitimately labeling my works as “art.” And when I moved to New York, I started seriously pursuing it.

Anyways, I became very interested in the use of different forms of mediums (media?) that artists choose to use. Painters use canvas or walls, sculptors use clay, street artists use the city itself, etc. And I’ve always found my personal favorite artworks to be nontraditional mediums, such as action figures or credit cards.

But what if human identity was used as a medium? A person’s life as a 4-dimensional canvas?

Unlike other mediums, I wouldn’t necessarily be painting or spraying it — I’d just live it and the alter ego’s life itself would be “art.” It seemed interesting/fun enough, so I decided to go for it. To start, I laid down some ground rules:

  • My new alter ego (aka the “artwork/project”) is named Sebastian Park.
  • Sebastian Park is a street artist living in New York.
  • Sebastian Park doesn’t know Jack Kim, and Jack Kim doesn’t know Sebastian Park.
  • ^ As such, they both have a completely different network and group of friends/acquaintances
  • I need to be all-in whenever I’m “living” as Sebastian Park. I can never mix the two lives/identities up.
  • ^ This requires a conspicuous visual “flag” to distinguish between the two lives: I chose that to be my glasses.
  • ^^ Whenever I’m living/existing as Sebastian, I won’t be wearing glasses.
  • Sebastian is a real identity that replaces my real one, rather than a “mask” that covers it.
  • Sebastian will completely immerse himself in street art culture and its community, reaching out to other artists and learning all the ins and outs of the art world.

It’s not like I knew how to create a new identity or alter ego from scratch or had a how-to guide for doing so. All I needed were EXAMPLES to draw from and replicate. All I have to do is use my “5 Steps of Learning Anything In the World” process to immerse myself and follow other people’s examples. In this case, I drew a lot of inspiration from The Most Famous Artist, a relatively new street artist based in LA that’s amassed quite a following through social media (i.e. Instagram).

Anyways, to start this whole project, I did whatever would indicate a person’s existence in today’s world — namely, giving Sebastian an Internet presence (and making a physical ID that I can carry around).

If anyone stumbled upon one of these accounts online, they’d have no idea Sebastian Park is an alter ego. Hell, for all they know, he’s a real person practicing art full-time:

Since officially setting all this up, I’ve done a couple artworks as Sebastian Park, and am preparing to really push his online presence after his next piece titled “Chillax Soup Cans”, which I hope people will relate to / find funny and serve as Sebastian’s hallmark/identifying work. Stay tuned for that ??.

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So behind all this…why exactly am I doing this? I mean it seems fun at all, but what’s the purpose and message?

The entire Sebastian Park project all ties back to my whole life goal/vision of trying to prove that it’s actually not that difficult to do, learn, or become anything you want. All it takes is to completely immerse yourself and learn from existing examples. In this specific case, I’m trying to become an established street artist from scratch simply by immersing myself in this world/community of street artists, recognizing patterns, constantly learning by example, and trying new things from what I’ve learned.

So by the end of it all, when Sebastian Park has become a full-blown, respected artist and people appreciate his work, I’d be able to tell everyone: “Look guys, I’m not an artist. I’m Jack Kim, and I’m just a skinny Asian kid that realized the potential of learning how to learn.”

I think Sebastian Park is one of my biggest chances to make this huge point to everyone. Plus, living two lives doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all. What could possibly go wrong, right?

I create consumer products and art.