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  • Writer's pictureLake Shore Dive

Spotlight On: Sean Conway, Cartoon Artist

Meet Sean Conway, a cartoon artist who is not afraid to overly exaggerate his visuals. 

Sean Conway's artistic inspiration is obvious upon first glance. His outlandish characters with exaggerated facial expressions is reminiscent of old comic book cartoons. It drives the viewer to think, to come up with a narrative just as crazy as the caricature on the canvas.  

Growing up on shows like Pinkie and the Brain and Cat Dog, where expression is essential to the characters, he became accustomed to drawing with an amplified style. "These shows go over-the-top and visually exaggerate things until it's gross. SpongeBob does this in close-up realistic frames that are borderline uncomfortable," he says.

“I have always focused on facial expression and the emotion of the character to maintain over-the-top visuals."

So what's it like bringing these eccentric characters to life? Music is a big motivation for Sean, describing it as "a stimulant" when he draws. "It keeps a forward progress going in my head," he says. "It cannot be a repetitive beat because that does the opposite of move forward. The music keeps the movement [going] and away from stalling or losing cherished motivation."

For a guy with such a distinctive and exaggerated style, Sean is a big fan of functional and minimalistic art. From pottery to hand-made furniture, his favorite type of artwork is whatever catches his eye, ear, nose or touch. Anything that can be used in everyday life, he believes, has the most value and connection with the outside world. 

Get to know Sean below and check out his custom playlist here and on Spotify!

What do you love about the local artist community?

Chicago's art scene is a "collective old school asphalt grunge". That is 100% something I just made up. I think the "sub-cultures" in Chicago's art scene mix well. You cannot tell if a person is into hip-hop, punk, rock, even jazz by looking at them. It use to be defined, you knew if someone listened to Gwar by looking at them. It's undefined now, and everyone's artistic influences are meshed together and don't follow a defined pattern. At least in Chicago and from what I can see.

Favorite TV show?

Rick and Morty.

Favorite cocktail?

Gin gimlet. 

Favorite Chicago artist?

Smashing Pumpkins.

Favorite spot in Chicago?

Montrose Harbor. 


"Spotlight On" is a weekly series highlighting Chicago creatives with a twist. We share a slice of their stories and what they love, hoping to inspire and connect.


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