Spacedust Local Artist Feature Series #001: Sean McCarthy

Spacedust Local Artist Feature Series #001: Sean McCarthy

Article by Michelle Rose
Photography by Lauren Wade

In early April of 2022, fashion designer Michelle Rose and photographer Lauren Wade met with fellow Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Sean McCarthy for a photo shoot in Elysian Park.

Sean and Michelle sat down afterwards to discuss his looks, philosophy of style, and how enabling artists to create for the sake of creating would improve society.

In our shoot, Sean wears Michelle's Holis Corduroy Trousers in Wonder Wheat and Eclipse, styled with his own pieces.

Use coupon code SEANHOLIS15 to get 15% off any pair of Holis Corduroys through June 22, 2022!

Watch the interview on our YouTube channel, or read on & view photos from the shoot below.

Michelle Rose: Alright, we’re going to talk a little bit with our model today.  This is Sean McCarthy.  I know I just said your name, but tell me more about who you are.

Sean McCarthy: Well, I am Sean McCarthy.  I am a musician, a songwriter, a visual artist, an aspiring fashion designer by the teachings of Michelle here.  And I love style, I love styling clothes.

MR: So, are there any specific music or art projects you want to highlight or specifically shout out?

SM: Yeah, my artist name outside of my personal identity, Sean McCarthy, is Joan Darwin.  That’s the name that I release my visual art under, and I am actually currently working on a debut solo record, that will be released under the name Joan Darwin.  I am also the drummer of a group called Moon Walker, and the drummer of a group called The Midnight Club.

MR: What are you wearing today?  Tell us about your entire look, and this is our second look today, so tell us about this whole look and then tell us about the earlier look.  

SM: Okay!  Today, I’m wearing Michelle’s Holis Corduroys in Wonder Wheat, with this white button-up shirt.  I don’t know the brand unfortunately, I only thrifted it.

MR: Vintage!

SM: Yes, it is vintage.  I am wearing these sunglasses, sold at Michelle’s store, Spacedust.

MR: Actually, you know what?  You got the last pair, we don’t have ‘em anymore.

SM: They’re not sold at the store anymore, but you can find them on my face, and Michelle’s too.  This tie was actually a gift from a good friend of mine named Tori.  She gave it to me and I was like, “Wow!  What a phenomenal tie!” and today, I was styling this outfit and I was like, “Wow!  This tie is perfect!” and

MR: Brings in all the colors!

SM: Yeah, exactly.  And this trench coat is actually my grandfather’s trench coat, who passed away a long time ago, but I was gifted it, and I love it!  

MR: Your shoes too!

SM: Oh yes, my shoes here are – these, actually a friend of mine thrifted these, and then gave them to another friend of mine, and then that friend of mine gave them to me.  So, it’s like the –

BOTH: The Brotherhood of the Traveling Shoes!

MR: Never saw that movie, but I get it!  I understand.

SM: These shoes hold secrets!

MR: You were wearing, earlier, the Holis Corduroys in Eclipse.

SM: Yes, they’re a black and gray, alternating kind of pattern; and on top I was wearing a black mock neck with a black scarf/neckerchief-type thing; a vintage leather jacket from the ‘90s, that was actually gifted to me by my mother, which is very nice.  And, though I don’t think you can see them in any of the photos, the back is a triangular shape of three circles that me and Michelle conceptualized together and she put on to the back of the jacket, which is a symbol that has come to represent, to me, existence in general.  And the shoes I was wearing were these big chunky Asos boots, that I like quite a bit.  And I was wearing a pair of black leather gloves, that I don’t know the brand of, unfortunately.  And I was wearing a pair of Saint Laurent glasses that are clear, and I adore them.

MR: So what drew you to the Holis Corduroys?  Clearly, you have two pairs, you own these pants –

SM: Many things drew me to the Holis Corduroys, in fact.  The first of which was the shape of them.  I love – Michelle kind of has this wonderful style in a lot of her pants of being high-waisted and form-fitting on the waist and going out into a somewhat triangular shape, and I think that they’re just flattering to the human body and a cool silhouette.  And then, with the circles on the knees and the butt of the pants, that drew me in.  I am a big fan of circles and triangles.  And I think Michelle is as well.  So, seeing them on her pants, I was always like, “Whoa!  Circles on pants?!” and so, yeah that drew me in.  And I’m trying to remember which pair – did I have the Eclipse first?  

MR: I think you had this one first.  You had this one first because I did not have the black fabric yet, I think.  And then when I had that, you were like “I need a pair of these too.”

SM: Yeah, these pants are amazing because they have all different colored circles.

MR: These have almost every color of the corduroy that I found that I made these pants with.

SM: And the Eclipse ones are black on this side down the pant, gray on this side down the pant, and then alternate the different color – the opposite color – on the circles –

MR: Yeah, like a jester thing –

SM: Yeah, like a jester thing, kind of almost like a yin-yang thing, in a way, too.

MR: That’s kind of why – yeah, I always go on long journeys when I name things.  Holis took a while to figure out that name.

SM: It’s a good name.

MR: Thanks.  I don’t know if I could explain it, but it’s like holographic, or holistic.

SM: Oh, great.

MR: Yeah, so things that combine together to make a whole.

SM: It’s a great idea.  That really drew me in.  Also, the material that she chose for them, the corduroy material is just so soft.  It’s a really, really comfortable material.  So that’s what drew me to them.

MR: How would you describe your personal style, overall?

SM: Overall?  Well, I like to blend between… I’d almost like to say that the different styles that I have, in a way, meshed together.

MR: Juxtaposition?

SM: Yeah, sort of.  Or, almost more of a puzzle.  I really take influence from the Space Age era of the sixties, and just Mod from the sixties.  And I mix that in with Glam from the seventies, and then I mix that in with a bit of Industrial-ish from the nineties, and then – on neither of the outfits today, but quite often I love wearing things with embroidered flowers on them, because I love nature, and I love having flowers on my body.

MR: So for you, do you feel like your personal style and your art kind of intersect in some ways?

SM: Yeah, I think that they intersect in pretty much every way.  In fact, I kind of think that art is only style.  I think it’s everything that you choose.  I think that in life, pretty much – and this is in line with, I think I’ve heard Brian Eno talk about quite a bit – that the only things that we don’t really have, necessarily, a choice over, in our lives, is our animalistic needs.  And other than that, everything is a choice that we’re making, constantly.  By making that choice, and choosing what you have in your life that is representative of style, I think is inherently art.  And I think that, in that way, our life can become art by bringing into your life more things that represent you.

MR: Mm-hmm, just by simple decisions.  Or, even the simplest decisions.

SM: Yeah, like Brian Eno talks about the screwdriver.  How the handle of a screwdriver is an artistic choice, because when you go to the store, there are many options, and you have to choose one.  That, therefore is a stylistic choice.

MR: And so there’s honor in that, there’s pride in that.  If you’re a lowly screwdriver handle designer, you don’t have to feel bad about your life.  

SM: Right.  And as a lowly screwdriver purchaser, you get to find a screwdriver that represents you.

MR: Yes, that’s great!

SM: So, I think that for everyone this is the case, but definitely for myself I can speak.  That I think, my style and my art go hand-in-hand because I think that they are one in the same.

MR: Yeah.  One represents the other.  You mentioned Brian Eno – I don’t know about Brian Eno.  Was he stylish?

SM: He was certainly stylish when he was part of Roxy Music.  When he was in the band Roxy Music, he wore some quite eccentric outfits.  

MR: Yeah, so would you say that Brian Eno is one of your style icons?

SM: I would say, somewhat.  I would say that the glam thing is a style icon for me.  The best representative of that was Bowie, followed by Marc Bolan.  I would say that those two are moreso influences on me than Brian Eno.  Brian Eno’s philosophy inspires me more than anything.  But his style in that period, certainly influences me.  And then his clothing style changed after that, he didn’t really express through clothing as much, but his artistic choices continued to inspire me more than almost anyone’s artistic choices.

MR: Okay.  Do you remember the first time you came to Spacedust, and what brought you in?

SM: I do remember the first time I came to Spacedust, and I do remember what brought me in.  My band at the time, the Midnight Club – we were far more active back then – we were playing a show at the Echo, just down the street from Spacedust.  We had loaded in and we were just killing some time, and we had just moved to Los Angeles.  We had lived there, maybe a few months, maybe less.  We decided to walk around and see what was in the area.  So we walked down the street, and we’re all massive Bowie fans, and fans of glam, and we were walking past your store, and we saw Bowie t-shirts and we were like “well we gotta check this place out.”  And if I remember correctly, you were listening to ELO.

MR: I think that day we were listening to Daft Punk.  

SM: Oh, okay!

MR: We made everyone dance.  We saw your group, the whole band, other people like friends and stuff, walking in, and we were like “Everyone has to dance!” 

SM: And we all danced, I believe.

MR: Yeah, that was really good!  We were in a great mood, like it just has to be said.  

SM: Yeah, “Everyone has to dance!”  That was a lot of fun.  Yeah, so then we continued to look around and there was just lots of cool stuff in there, with your designs, and the things you were selling were quite in line with the things we’re interested in.  And we started talking to you and you seemed real cool, and we found out that you’re a musician and we were like “Whoa, that’s so cool!”  

MR: And then we went to your show!

SM: Yeah, and then you went to my show!  Yeah, it was a good time.

MR: Awesome.  So, is there a thing that you love about Spacedust most, that you didn’t just mention?

SM: The thing that I love most about Spacedust is certainly your clothing designs.  Without a doubt.  I think that you have unique ideas, and create articles of clothing that people who like to express themselves through clothing can utilize well, because it’s very unique and expressive clothing.  That’s my favorite thing about Spacedust.

MR: Do you feel it’s important to shop local, and why?

SM: Yeah, I think actually one of the most important things you can do as a person in capitalism is shop local, because the less there has to go into buying things – whether that be labor, or gasoline for delivery, or gasoline for driving there, or anything that goes into a product being sold – I think that if we can eliminate as many of the steps in between as possible, I think that’s a good thing.  I think that buying local is good for so many reasons – A, that it positively benefits your community.  If you’re living in an area that people around you are in, you’re living in a community, whether you like it or not.  To support those people goes very far.  Also, you can build unique friendships and relationships such as you and I – we’ve become really good friends since finding your store.

MR: You can’t get that on the Internet!

SM: You can’t get that on the Internet.  Maybe you could.

MR: I guess you could.

SM: But it’s different.  Also, I think that local brands tend to do things more handmade, which I think is incredibly important, to be not exploiting the labor of humans.  To actually make sure that the work that went into the things that you’re buying was good.

MR: Yeah, and it’s actually kind of the fastest fashion.  In a way.  We don’t make things fast, because we’re humans making them.  

SM: Right, not machines.

MR: We’re not machines!  But it’s like, if we didn’t have your size on the rack and we still had enough fabric to make you your size, we could make it the next day.  That’s pretty fast.

SM: Yeah.  Nonetheless it’s far more unique than buying things from big corporations.

MR: Yeah.  Awesome.  Do you have a particular affinity for Echo Park, where we’re based. 

SM: Yeah, you know, Echo Park was one of the first areas of LA that I felt actually connected to.  When moved here, I moved to the Hollywood area and it felt so unwelcoming and too crazy for my liking.  In finding Echo Park, alongside a few other neighborhoods within LA, these were these places where I was like “Whoa, there’s really cool stores” – in Echo Park specifically I found your store, and at the time – I think it’s closed now but Nico & Bullitt was there – and Big Bud Press is over there, and there’s a lot of good food over there.  And the park itself is beautiful and nice to go to.  I think it’s a lively area that is not overwhelming, but very fun, with great culture and great people.  I definitely enjoy Echo Park a lot.

MR: Do you have a favorite place, or environment in LA that you like to create in, or go for inspiration?

SM: I like to generally create in my home, overall.  It’s a safe space, it’s nice.  However, if I’m writing poetry, or words to a song, something like that, the things that tend to inspire me a lot are nature and people, so I like to sit in Griffith Park quite a bit and look at all of the trees and listen to what they have to tell me, and watch the people and all that.  I love sitting at coffee shops and just listening to the conversations around me, and watching the people behave and do different things.

MR: With your sunglasses on?  So they can’t tell you’re looking?

SM: Yeah, or sometimes I don’t mind if they know that I’m looking, actually.

MR: Let’s be direct about it.

SM: You know, I think that as people we are observers, and we should stop shaming observing.

MR: Right!  Don’t feel weird because someone’s looking at you.  So, between looking at the trees, or interacting with trees, and making the distance between a product and consumer less – what else can you think about that you’re passionate about wanting to change in the world, and how do you think we can do that?

SM: It’s hard for me to say for the world.  I think for the world, I would like for more people to welcome peace into their life.  As for for America specifically, I would really like to see doing art for art’s sake to become something that can be supported financially.  I think that the problem with art in America right now is that, in order to do it and be able to survive, you don’t always get to just make art for art’s sake.  

MR: It feels like it has to be a business, or profitable in some way, right?

SM: Right.  And I think that creating art is one of the most absolutely beneficial things that we can do as humans, and I think that it’s something that creates almost no danger at all, and causes no issues, really.  So I think that if we can find a way to enable people to be able to just do that if they want to, that’s something that I feel deeply passionate about.  

MR: Yeah, enable and encourage.  Maybe try to get rid of some of these things that we’ve grown up with where we feel like we, like we said, have to make a business out of something in order for it to be worthwhile.  I think a lot of times as adults we feel like we can’t create just for the sake of creating.

SM: Exactly.  But when we’re children, it’s the most innate thing we do.  We only lose that over time, but I don’t think we actually lose it, we just ignore it.

MR: Yeah, kind of stifle it.

SM: Yeah, I think that a step towards that would be introducing some sort of basic income, that we don’t have to be constantly struggling to make enough money to survive, that would be wonderful.  I also think that there are countries across the world who are far more giving about artist grants, and I think that is something that America should really look into doing – especially Los Angeles and New York, considering that their entire economies are based off of creative fields, the fact that the government isn’t giving out more grants towards those things, seems counterintuitive to me.

MR: Yeah.  So, encouraging people to create more, enabling them with the financial resources to do so.  Yeah, that is a good dream for an amazing vision for the future.  Is there anything else you’d like to say?  Or do you have any questions for me?

SM: Are you thinking of new clothing ideas?

MR: Oh, I’m working on them.  More circles!  Yeah, they’re happening.   

SM: Good.  More circles.  Wonderful.

MR: Yeah, more circles, always.  I can’t stop.  It’s a perpetual circle machine.  

SM: That’s great.

MR: Going in circles.

SM: Never stop the circles.

MR: Creating circles.

SM: That’s it.

MR: Cool.  Interact with the trees, people!

SM: Interact with the trees, people.

MR: Be one with the trees.

SM: Just take a look at the trees.  They’re trying to teach you something.

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