Artist Spotlight: Sebastian ‘Soul Vibe’ Zeno

This week we’re shining the spotlight on Sebastian Zeno, an eclectic visual artist from Chico, California, who works under the moniker ‘Soul Vibe’. He attended CSU Chico, where he developed his natural flair for ceramic sculpture and painting. Since graduating from college and working independently, he’s expanded on his formal training, and cultivated a unique style that combines classical elements of form and structure, with contemporary themes, jewelry design, unique materials and functionality. From his recent Soul Staff Collection to the intricately decorative pieces posted via his Instagram feed, his work traverses a wide range of forms and speaks in a language of color and diversity. His creations are decorative, functional, expressive, aesthetically pleasing, and a few other things that are difficult to define. To get some insight into Soul Vibe’s process and find out a bit more about his work, we asked him a few questions.

What’s the best piece of art advice you have ever received?

The best piece of advice I have ever received was from one of my professors at Chico State.  We were learning about conceptual art and that gave me a new way of looking at art. My professor not only said that everything is art but she also taught me to see art in all aspects of my life. From that perspective, I learned to develop my sense of what art is and that it doesn’t always have to be visual but it can also be a feeling, a sound, or a movement. Art can be outside of us or within us. We are all pieces of art and carry art in our energy and spirit and we impact the nature of art every day as we interact with the environment, life and each other.


As an artist who uses different materials and mediums, what do you find challenging and rewarding about combining/mixing elements in your work?

I often find it difficult to stay focused on one project at a time and so I like to multitask and have a number of projects going at once. By being a versatile artist who uses different materials and mediums, it is rewarding to me to be able to move from painting to wood working to drawing to graphic art to clay as the mood hits me. I often have more than one drawing, painting, etc. going at a time. I find I am the most creative when I have a number of projects going. It is like having a five course meal at my fingers tips. But if I multitask too much,  it can become distracting for me so I have to be mindful about what steps to multitask at the same time so my art is completed with precision and purpose. It can also be a challenge to have all the materials I need to  be able to have a variety of projects going at once.


How has your style changed over the years?

Just like a scientist experiments, I am always experimenting and putting new ideas to use. My style has changed over time because now I have more of an objective in mind from the start rather than  letting things emerge totally on their own. Now I am able to utilize my objective, the material, and the process guide me.


“As a ceramic artist, I have a strong desire to create abstract conceptual forms that have a visual language which viewers can connect with. I have developed my own method of slab construction and wheel throwing that enables me to experiment with form. By utilizing many different relief carving techniques, each piece has its own sense of energy and life. My pieces are often dark and bold while my use of color conveys a mood of intimacy and intrigue.

My own creative approach with ceramics promotes the spontaneity of clay in shifting forms. My hands dance with the clay to portray a soft sense of movement. I feel very connected to my work. There is a unique bond between each clay body I work with and myself.”


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What are you currently working on right now?

I am currently working on a conceptual body of work. It is a series of work that is very large and bold. I have been studying Jackson Pollock and am inspired by him. He used a stick or a brush to splatter paint on a canvas. I am using resin and tree nectar resin along with paint in what I call injection painting. I inject colors into the resin at various stages in my process which creates different depths with color. I think I feel some of the same emotions that Jackson Pollack may have felt when painting. I feel a connection to the broad movements he used while painting when I do my injection painting. This process has taken me many years of trial and error and practice to master. I am painting on large pieces of wood in the ten foot range. The key element in this process is knowing the exact science regarding the chemicals being used and having  vast experiences with the oxidation process.

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What do you do to get out of creative funks?

To get out of creative funks, I tend to listen to new genres of music so my soul can hopefully catch a new flair of excitement, passion, or drive. Music is my vehicle.

A Look At The Soul Staff Collection – Click here for the page.

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You can see more of Soul Vibe’s work here at his website. If you’re in Chico, head over to Moonstone, where you’ll find his work featured alongside more of Chico’s finest.