Seth Barnard - Illustrator

Apartment - Echo Park, Los Angeles

Seth Barnard is a shaggy-haired Laguna Beach native with a warm, approachable aura and an easy living vibe. His apartment sits on top of a vine-covered building on a quiet, winding street in Echo Park. With a modest solarium underway and a lavish cactus collection throughout, Seth's home feels like a bohemian Pinterest dream, but effortless. After going to school in New York and then working in Berkeley, he now calls Los Angeles home. We sipped some craft-Cali beer in the setting Sunday sun as Seth told us stories with a legitimate-surfer voice and contagious smile.

What brought you to LA?
Architecture and sun. My girlfriend, Lindsey, and I were living in Berkeley - I was working at an architecture firm, and Lindsey was going to grad school. And, basically, Berkeley wasn’t really our vibe... San Francisco was changing. And, a better job than my independent contractor slog opened up, so I took it. 

How do you define yourself career wise?
You know, I’ve been wanting to change that. I usually just say, “I do architecture.” Or, I say, “I’m an architect.” I feel weird calling myself an architect because I don’t have my license. But, that’s what I do: I do all the same things as an architect. I want to start calling myself something different because I don’t necessarily like architecture as much as I’d like to. I think I might start saying, “I do drawings.” Or, “I make art.” I don’t want to call myself an artist. If I say, “I’m an illustrator” that would encourage me to take that on more.

Have you ever been called a hipster?
Indirectly. I can't remember if I have ever been directly called a hipster. But, I know that’s what people think I am. And, I am. It’s whatever. I don’t care. I’ve come to terms with that’s just the way it is. Accepting your own stereotype can be therapeutic.

What does being a Millennial mean to you?
So, we are people who experienced the pre-digital age but are also participants in it? I didn’t realize I was one. That’s kind of funny because I was always really reluctant when the iPhone started to really come into US culture. I was super resistant to this thing that was a mainstay of society. I was in college, and all of my friends were getting iPhones, and I still had a phone that just made calls, a Nokia. I still had it, and I was stubbornly proud of my technophobia. I didn’t want to get emails all of the time, and I didn’t want to be connected to people all of the time. And then, I don’t remember what happened. Oh yea, I broke that phone, and my provider no longer had that phone. So, I made the transition. Eventually I got sucked in, and I’m in it. Yea. I’m in it.

How do you feel connected to your generation?
I don’t know. (Laughs) It’s ironic but I feel connected to my generation through the iPhone and through an aversion to technology. iPhones are really weird, they bring us together but keep us apart. People meet other people through these stainless steel microchip vessels. I feel connected to my generation through music at some times in my life. At other times, I feel connected to those who share an affinity for the environment. I don’t think you can ever connect to the broad brushstroke of a generation- you just connect to factions of that generation. 

What is your favorite thing about living in Echo Park?
That I can walk everywhere. I come home from work and just take a stroll, be outside, go up to the park and down to the lake, get to know people and talk to people. Having local places and being able to build relationships with people on the street and stuff. In LA this is a special thing. 

What are your favorite spots in Echo Park?
I really like Fix, which is this restaurant up in the canyon. Cookbook, which is a market slash sort-of-a-deli. It’s all responsibly grown, delicious produce, and it makes you feel great. It’s also affordable. They have the best sandwiches, ever. They use this salt-encrusted, oil soaked bread that really seals the deal. They put flavors together that I would’ve have never thought of. Today I had a smoked trout sandwich with feta cheese and mint and arugula. Ohh man. And, The Cactus Store. I love going in there; it’s like a botanical museum. It’s really cool to see people focus on something so intensely.

How do you get around the city?
I drive or skateboard. I tried to bike to work a few times and almost died. 

Do you see yourself staying in LA?
I really like it. I’ve lived in New York City and the Bay Area and they seem so ordered in comparison to the sprawling collage that is LA. I would be more certain about this city  if it had better air quality, and less traffic… again, biking is too sketchy. Minus those things, it would definitely be a future contender.

What have you been working on recently?
My friend, Adam Mars, is writing a book. I don’t even know if I should be saying-- I’ll say it, whatever. He’s writing a book, Unreal for Real. It’s an autobiographical book of short stories, and the mood across all of the stories is very different but every story is funny because Adam is wittier on a woody allen level. So, he’s asked me to do some illustrations or an illustration for the cover. I’m reading it and re-reading it, and I’m doing some studies. That’s the current project.

What’s your favorite thing in your closet?
Probably my shoes. Because, they are reliable, comfortable, and stained.

What’s a typical Sunday like for you?
I go surfing or hiking and sort of just pick up the house or hang out with a friend and get food or shoot the shit.

What’s your favorite film?
I love a lot of movies, but I have to say Caddy Shack.

What is your favorite record?
(Sighs) Is your favorite record the one you play the most? I don’t know. If I think about music that I can listen to consistently… Cal Tjader’s East of the Sun, maybe. He’s a xylophone player from the 60’s. Lindsey’s parents introduced me to it; they always play him while they are getting dinner ready  instant mood booster!

Who would you invite to dinner living or dead?
Oh man. It’s so hard. It would have to be someone who’s dead because you have no other chance to do it except this opportunity you’re providing me with. (Laughs) Probably Lemmy and Mona Lisa to balance it out.

Where do you want to travel to?
Machu Picchu.

What inspires you?
My friends.
3D Space.
Tom Robbins.

What is your astrological sign, and how does astrology play a part in your life?
I’m a Taurus. It doesn’t play a part in my life, but I know supposedly Tauruses are bold and stubborn. And, I am stubborn. I assume I fit the stereotype, but that’s about it. It’s not very important to me. I don’t really think about it.

What is your Myer-Briggs personality type?

What are your favorite qualities in a human?
Honesty. Interest. Intelligence. Communication. Engagement. Conversation.

What is your idea of happiness?
Having people that you love in your life. Having romance. Having intimacy. Family. Friends. Being active. Being in nature. Not worrying about superficial things like money and shit like that. Obviously you’re never going to get rid of stress, but I think happiness comes from being able to remediate that as much as possible. (Laughs)

What’s your favorite color and flower?
Favorite color is either black or blue. My favorite flower… I would have to say a tulip. Definitely a tulip. A yellow tulip.

Who is your favorite artist?
Oh man. James Turrell, maybe. He’s the first artist that I looked at and thought, no other art can make you feel this way. His art makes you see the world (which is light) in a different way. 

Do you have a motto?
No mottos; there’s too many curveballs in life to have a phrase sum it up. Did I just make a motto?

For further Seth Barnard related discovery follow him @b_a_r_n  and visit his website.
Also, check out his illustrations for Sunnynook Drive's Very Small Things.

This portrait is part of our ongoing collaboration with Millennial Instinct.

Photography: Camille Cotteverte