I was born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi. I attended Greenville Christian school, Riverside School, Solomon Junior High, and graduated from St. Joseph High School. Then I attended Delta State University as well as Mississippi Delta Community College before moving to Atlanta where I graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta.
I was married around that time to a beautiful woman named Laurie. She left her clerical job to become a nurse and seemed to love her work. By all accounts she was very good at it. We lived in Mississippi and Georgia.
For the next 20+ years I worked in the advertising and graphic design business for small and large agencies in the southeast. During that time I won many awards for graphic design and was even chosen to judge the 2009 ADDY Awards for the American Advertising Federation in Jackson, MS.
Unfortunately I was laid off in 2009 from my Atlanta agency job due to the struggling economy. There were no graphic design jobs to be found so I resorted to delivering pizza just to make a few dollars. Airbrushing had always been my side hustle so I began full-time painting custom cars and motorcycles to try and bolster our household income.
The stress of changing dynamics at her job, her dysfunctional family, and our lack of dependable income weighed heavy on Laurie. She eventually quit her job and became estranged from her family. Together we opened a small t-shirt and sign shop in Hampton, Georgia where she seemed to find some happiness in our small town. Then the worst thing imaginable happened... September 1st, 2014 my wife of 25 years committed suicide.
My entire life crumbled. I spent many months working through the grief. My life consisted of buckets of tears, multiple therapy meetings per month, and focus on my faith. Like a shipwreck survivor, I'd stand in the surf only to get knocked down time and time again by the waves of emotion. I eventually had to give up my shop, my home, and most of the things I owned.
Along with losing all my “things,” I realized I lost my passion for art. I just found no joy in drawing or painting. Imagine that, an artist who doesn’t create. For nearly 5 years I struggled to reignite my passion for art. I was mostly just existing. But that would eventually change.
Since those dark days I have remarried a wonderful woman named Christi. She is my rock and inspiration. Professionally, I continue to provide freelance graphic design services. Personally, I have been slowly regaining my desire to create art and feel the emotion in its creation. Exploring colors with a vibrant palette, some may even say garish, is my expression of a life worth living. I want to inspire others to find their voice in art. Paint like there’s no tomorrow, because "we are not promised tomorrow" as Laurie once wrote.
I am a better, stronger version of myself today. I can endure anything and I have hope. Feeling like I've wasted my talent, I'm trying to make up for the lost time. There's so much to learn! Like a Phoenix, I will rise from the ashes. Thank you for your support. —Sean Burnley