Philly graffiti artist showcases work in Hyatt Centric’s “Maker Series”

Hyatt Centric Maker Series
Photo courtesy of Sean Hassett

Hyatt Centric’s “Maker Series” puts the work of local artists on display, highlighting Philly creators with monthly-curated showcases.

For January, the HCCC looks to Philly multimedia street artist and graffiti tagger Sean Hassett, more widely known as Irregular. Based on his family’s history with using stained glass as a visual medium and his time selling his work along Rittenhouse Square, much of Irregular’s new work plays with the mosaic of light and utilizes mirror fragments.

Irregular’s new exhibit is now on display through Jan. 31. From his studio on Cecil B Moore Avenue in Brewerytown, Irregular spoke with Metro about the incidents and inspirations of his life, good and bad, that made him who he is today.

Why do you call yourself ‘Irregular’?

My handle has included ‘irregular’ since I’ve started painting in 2013. This was a natural feeling, a knowing that I wanted to stand out differently in the art world. Coming up as an artist on the street, and in a phase where many artists found themselves through social media, I knew I’d have to create my own recipe outside of this blender of similarities…I wanted to reflect something irregular…a sense of identity.

How did you move your aesthetic from the streets of Darby to Rittenhouse Square?

In seventh grade, 2001-02, would be the first time I sold something on the street. A best friend and myself would ride bikes up Woodland Avenue from Darby to Grays Ferry to sell bottles of water and candy to cars coming off the expressway. Since then, I’ve been fairly in tune with the streets, selling nearly everything one could possibly sell.

Growing up in Darby and Colwyn in the 90s, I was one of very few Caucasian kids around. In fifth grade I was even teased for being the only “white” kid in class. While dealing with those emotions, I also experienced a sense of racism from the white side of my family. This left me feeling quite irregular. The principles of irregular would be formed through these years and beyond, choosing not to conform to such dilemmas. As we see in the aesthetic of my work, I did not follow any traditional guidelines that have been set. I’m here to press the reset button. 

Photo courtesy of Sean Hassett

How do you stop from getting caught when you tag?

The word irregular acts as a mirror to the majority. People see the word, in a regular font, with a period, and they see themselves. It’s an answer to the commonly felt feeling in so many of us. It’s like camouflage to the streets of Philadelphia at this point. This city has so much more potential, if only everyone would just look into the mirror and see themselves in it. To be caught would mean I feel I’m doing something wrong—I do not feel this way. As an artist in this city, I am providing a public service.

Tell us about the inspiration of stained glass in your work.

My grandfather worked with stained glass as a hobby for a short period of time after retiring from the VA. The memories of going into his workspace didn’t come until after I was fingers-deep into a box of broken mirror. He passed away a year or two before I went to jail.

What about your time in jail fed into your art and your vision?

Coming home from nearly a year in county jail, with two felonies, and two daughters at the time—I have a son now as well—I was forced to devote myself to something that would build a legacy. I dove into the life of an artist. While in jail (2012), I followed the story of Trayvon Martin very closely. My earliest works of art portray a silhouette of Trayvon with the words “I could have been you” and “I am you” painted in his face. It was the day after the verdict of (George) Zimmerman that I would first ever take my works of art to Love Park solely as a silent protest. This day—July 14, 2013—would ignite my confidence of displaying my work to the public. Come February 2015, mirror would replace the painted words “I am you”.

Tell us about your exhibit at the Hyatt and what it portrays in regards to your artistry?

I have a large collection of works available that I prepared for my trip to Art Basel. Ended up coming back with more than I would have liked, so the pieces exhibited at the Hyatt will be from this collection. The Hyatt collection will show a wide range of hand cut mirror styles and techniques. The proof is in the reflection.