A Pacific Beach resident’s journey with furniture, plants and all things art
Sean Collins’ Pacific Beach front yard is any plant lover’s dream.
Large, handcrafted pots carved from wood house an array of succulents and leafy plants, each telling their own story. Beyond his yard, Collins’ home is filled with refurbished furniture and art fixtures, another nod to his creative side.
A Realtor by trade, Collins’ artistic interests has been prominent since a young age. Collins said in his childhood he took inspiration from Disney cartoons and comic books.
Fast forward several years and furniture reconstruction, painting, surf-related art and plants have become Collins’ current art forms of choice.
After attending San Diego State University, he dove headfirst into real estate, while also fostering his creative expression. For Collins, defining himself by a single career path is restrictive, he said, so he opts for staying busy with art projects of all sizes.
“I believe people are dynamic, and you don’t have to be like ‘this is the one thing I do,’” Collins said.
Collins explained that selling a home and creating artwork are not as different as many may assume. This allows him to couple his two hobbies for a blended sense of diversity in his everyday life.
“I believe the art helps open your mind and likewise in real estate, there is a ton of creativity in terms of getting clients and working with clients and getting deals and working out creative solutions,” Collins said.
In the alley behind his office, left behind goods are a day-to-day occurrence, something that initially sparked Collins’ eye for potential. Tables, pieces of wood, planters and partially-dead plants litter the street, but Collins sees their value.
“About seven years ago I began driving back and forth across Pacific Beach, commuting,” he said. “I would just see stuff left out, it would look like a whole dorm room was throw out in the alley. I began grabbing pieces of furniture that were thrown out and started sanding, finishing, buying materials and tools and getting creative.”
Typically, after Collins finds furniture he likes, he will work with it as necessary to meet his specific goals for that piece. If he wants it another color, Collins said he will sand and paint it. If he wants to embellish what is already there, he will add his own touches like drawings or gluing down kick-knacks. Sometimes, all it takes it sanding away old paint to expose a piece’s original wood color for it to feel like a brand new item.
As he became familiar with how to create something out of nothing, Collins said he became instantly addicted to watching for free items and would browse platforms such as eBay and Craigslist regularly. He would pick up pieces and add his own touches, sprucing up items that would otherwise go to waste.
“I started to get an eye for certain things,” he said. “I got absorbed into it like an obsession. On the side I would always keep an eye on the market and have notifications on in case something free popped up.”
Hand-in-hand with creativity is the ability to connect with like-minded individuals, Collins explained. Walking around his Pacific Beach neighborhood, buying furniture online and talking with other artists has opened his mind to the many layers of creative expression.
“I started talking to neighbors and started getting to know people in Pacific Beach,” he said, speaking about a particular neighbor whose succulent display caught his eye.
“He showed me around his front yard, and I took a bunch of clippings and then he showed me his backyard, and it’s just glorious” Collins said.
As for the future, Collins said he hopes to continue staying busy with art.
“I always have a couple projects going,” he said.
Collins said he primarily uses art as an outlet for imaginative expression and he gifts most pieces to friends and family. But he also said he is always interested in commissioned art and collaborative projects.
More of Collins’ work can be found on his Instagram, @themerchmerch, where his furniture pieces are posted and displayed.