A Pacific Beach resident’s journey with furniture, plants and all things art

Sean Collins’ Pacific Beach front yard is a plant lover’s dream.

Large handcrafted pots carved from wood house an array of succulents and leafy plants, each telling its own story. Beyond her yard, Collins’ home is filled with refurbished furniture and art fixtures, another nod to her creative side.

A real estate agent by trade, Collins’ artistic interests have been prominent since a young age. Collins said that as a child he was inspired by Disney cartoons and comics.

Pacific Beach resident Sean Collins.

(Courtesy of Sean Collins)

Fast forward several years and furniture reconstruction, painting, surf-related art, and plants have become Collins’ current art forms.

After attending San Diego State University, he dove headfirst into real estate, while fostering its creative expression. For Collins, defining himself by a single career path is limiting, he said, so he opts to keep busy with art projects of all sizes.

“I believe people are dynamic, and you don’t have to say ‘that’s the only thing I do,'” Collins said.

Collins explained that selling a home and creating artwork are not as different as many might assume. This allows her to couple her two hobbies for a blended sense of diversity in her daily life.

“I believe art helps open your mind and likewise in real estate there’s a ton of creativity in finding clients and working with clients and getting deals and finding creative solutions,” Collins said. .

A refurbished Sean Collins table.

A refurbished Sean Collins table.

(Courtesy of Sean Collins)

In the alley behind his desk, abandoned items are a daily occurrence, which initially sparked Collins’ potential. Tables, scraps of wood, planters and partially dead plants litter the street, but Collins sees the value in them.

“About seven years ago, I started going back and forth through Pacific Beach, commuting,” he said. “I would just see things left out, it looks like an entire dorm has been thrown down the alley. I started salvaging furniture that had been thrown away and started sanding, finishing, buying materials and tools, and getting creative.

Typically, once Collins finds pieces of furniture he likes, he’ll work with them as needed to achieve his specific goals for that room. If he wants it another color, Collins said he’ll sand it down and paint it. If he wants to spruce up what’s already there, he’ll add his own touches like drawings or collages of kicks. Sometimes all it takes is sanding off old paint to expose a room’s original wood color and make it look like new.

Potted plants in Sean Collins' front yard include a handmade pot for succulents he fashioned from the trunk of a palm tree.

Potted plants in Sean Collins’ front yard include a handmade pot for succulents he fashioned from the trunk of a palm tree.

(Madison Beveridge)

As he became more familiar with how to create something from scratch, Collins said he instantly became addicted to finding free items and regularly browses platforms such as eBay and Craigslist. He picked up pieces and added his own touches, embellishing objects that would otherwise go to waste.

“I started to have my eye on certain things,” he said. “I was absorbed by it like an obsession. On the other hand, I would always keep an eye on the market and have notifications in case something free popped up.

Surfboard art by Sean Collins.

Surfboard art by Sean Collins.

(Courtesy of Sean Collins)

The ability to connect with like-minded people goes hand in hand with creativity, Collins explained. Walking around her Pacific Beach neighborhood, shopping for furniture online, and chatting with other artists opened her mind to the many layers of creative expression.

“I started talking to neighbors and started getting to know the people of Pacific Beach,” he said, speaking of one particular neighbor whose luscious display caught his eye.

“He showed me around his front yard, and I took a bunch of clippings, and then he showed me his back yard, and it’s just beautiful,” Collins said.

As for the future, Collins said he hopes to continue dealing with art.

“I still have a few projects going on,” he said.

Collins said he primarily uses art as an outlet for imaginative expression and gifts most of the pieces to friends and family. But he also said he’s always been interested in commissioned art and collaborative projects.

Other works by Collins can be found on her Instagram, @themerchmerch, where her furniture is displayed and displayed.

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