artist Gwenn Seemel working

working on this mural, photo by Molly Ross

- -- WHO -- -
Gwenn Seemel

- -- WHERE -- -
Long Beach Island, New Jersey via France as well as Portland, Oregon

- -- WHAT -- -
full-time artist, painter, writer, vlogger, teacher, and uncopyrighting advocate

- -- HOW -- -
with the help and support of clients, patrons, readers, and friends like you

I am Gwenn Liberty Seemel. My American father wanted to name me Liberty Bell Seemel—after the great Philadelphian e-flat chimer—but made the compromise when my French mother pointed out that that particular ding-dong is, in fact, cracked.

Born in Saudi Arabia in 1981, I was raised part-time in San Francisco and part-time in a small village in France. In Brittany, I went to the same grammar school my mother did growing up, and I learned to play a mean game of boule bretonne for an 8 year old.

Eventually, my family settled in the United States, in Oregon, and, for 22 years, I was happy there. I attended Jesuit High School in Portland and then studied studio art, art history, and French at Willamette University in Salem. I graduated summa cum laude from that institution in 2003 and immediately launched my art career in Portland. To celebrate my decade of professional art-making in 2013, I wrote a book about art marketing, which you can read or purchase here. In 2015, I began contributing regularly to Professional Artist magazine.

In 2009, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a chronic illness which changed both my personal life and my art dramatically. More recently, the big change came in the form of a big move to Long Beach Island, New Jersey, where I currently live with my sweetheart. For more about why I left Oregon, check out this art I made about it. If you’re curious about my adventures, stop by my blog.

My painting style has been evolving since I was 15. Without following any particular art movement, I was influenced by everything from volunteering at a retirement home and taking a printmaking class to trying new brushes and injuring my hand. This post on my blog sums up how I developed my technique.

I am drawn to portraits, both individual portraits and portraits in series, a tendency that I explain more in this video. When I paint individuals, it’s often for commission. When I paint groups of people, it’s for the purpose of exploring a particular issue, and I exhibit these groups in conceptual shows, of which Apple Pie and Subjective are two examples.

My last project, however, did not feature portraits. Crime Against Nature is both a series of animal paintings and a children’s book for the kid in all of us, which you can read or purchase here. It explores all the ways women and men in our society feel they have to be in order to be natural, and the book includes a foreword by the evolutionary biologist Dr. Joan Roughgarden.

In 2014, I spoke at TEDxGeneva about the role of imitation in creativity. I also released a book that digs deeper into the ideas addressed in the talk. You Share Good reveals why I don’t copyright my art and why other artists might want to consider freeing their work as well.

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What follows are some highlights from recent press I have received. To see a full page of clippings go here, or check out the list of articles and interviews in my résumé below.

OPB Gwenn Seemel

still from OPB

In 2014, I created a 10 by 38 foot mural of Kirk Reeves, a Portland street performer and friend who died in 2012. The project is on NE Grand at Lloyd in Portland, Oregon, and it was featured in The Oregonian, on this episode of OPB’s State of Wonder, and in a video which filmmaker Ifanyi Bell created for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Willamette Week

screenshot of Willamette Week

You’re not a proper patron of Portland’s arts scene until you’ve...had your portrait painted by Gwenn Seemel.

     — - Staff, Willamette Week, September 2014 -- - full story

Creative Insurgents

still from Creative Insurgents

At the beginning of 2014, I talked with the Creative Insurgents crew about art marketing, copyright, and the creative life. You can catch the interview here.

Scientific American

screenshot of Scientific American

Seemel’s book [Crime Against Nature] covers it all and reminds us that if you’re inclined to look to nature for answers regarding what is ‘normal,’ ‘natural,’ or even ‘moral,’ it’s clear that nature passes no judgement.

     — - Kalliopi Monoyios, Scientific American, May 2013 -- - full story


screenshot of Hyperallergic

The glimpses that Seemel has illustrated of the real wildness of the natural world [in Crime Against Nature] are fascinating.

     — - Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, April 2013 -- - full story


screenshot of BoingBoing

The issues at play [in Crime Against Nature] are hefty and potentially uncomfortable, but the book itself is light, playful, and pleasantly un-preachy.

     — - Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing, January 2013 -- - full story


screenshot of OWNI

My hat is off to Gwenn Seemel for embodying so well the ideals of the free culture movement!

     — - Lionel Maurel, OWNI, May 2012 -- - full story in French



Born 1981, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.