Sean Qualls finds inspiration everywhere. Growing up in the 70's in central New Jersey, his family didn't have much money for art supplies but he made the best of what was available; discarded paper, blank end pages from old books and sometimes walls much to his mother's chagrin. Some of his earliest inspirations were the crayons and coloring books his mom would buy for him and his older sister, drawing and handwriting competitions with classmates and an illustrated bible he received for Christmas in the 2nd grade.
He moved to Brooklyn to attend art school at Pratt Institute. After only a year and a half he dropped out but continued to educate himself while working full-time at the Brooklyn Museum.
Sean's books and illustrations often explore history and non-fiction subjects. His fine art focuses on race & identity and the intersection of history & mythology, ultimately examining how we create our own identities or allow them to be scripted to for us. Together his paintings and illustrations reveal simultaneously unique and universal moments that reveal the human spirit.
Sean's most recent books include Why Am I Me?, The Case for Loving and Two Friends all of which he illustrated with his wife, illustrator/author Selina Alko. He has also illustrated Emmanuel's Dream (Schneider Award recipient) written by Laurie Ann Thompson, Giant Steps to Change the World written by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee and Before John Was a Jazz Giant (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor) written by Carole Boston Weatherford. He lives in lives in Brooklyn (where you can find him DJing on occasion) with his wife and their two children.
American Illustration 36 & 35
Melted City 4, Blanc Gallery, Philippines, Rhode Island School of Design, ISB Gallery, Providence, Rhode Island
The Shape of Sound: The Picture Book Art of Sean Qualls, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY Nov. 2016-Jan. 2017
Panorama: Revisions of landscapes Eastfield College- H100 Gallery Mesquite, TX Oct. 2016
Original Art Show / Society of Illustrators, New York, NY - 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 2011, 2008, 2006
The Case for Loving Pop-Up Show / Open Source Gallery, Brooklyn, NY - December 2014
A Brief History of Things Seen Only in Shadows: published and unpublished work by Sean Qualls, Translations Art Gallery, Canton, OH Nov 2014 & Massillon Museum, Massillon, OH Jan-March 2015
Dime Bag Show / The End is Near, Brooklyn, NY - Fall 2014
Dime Bag4 / Giant Robot, New York, NY - 2011
Panoram Project 3 Jonathan Levine Gallery Sept. -Oct. 2008