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Sean Tubridy: Making art and saving Polaroid (or at least trying to)

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Sean Tubridy

“When our company let everyone go after the dot-com crash,” says Sean Tubridy, “I went out on my own and haven’t looked back.” When his graphic design firm laid him off six years ago, Tubridy moved from Massachusetts to Minnesota, where he started his own company, Blue Over Blue. This week, he’ll be displaying his work at the Northrup King Building’s annual Art Attack open house.

Blue Over Blue has served as the main hub for Tubridy’s portfolio, giving him not just a point of contact but a place to showcase his work online. But while his portfolio consists of a diverse selection of illustrations, print work, screen printing, and brand design, the majority of his time is spent on Web design—something that pays the bills but offers Turbidy less of a creative outlet. Past clients range from small companies to large, from financial institutions to Harvard University. Yet while Tubridy diligently works to sustain and build on that aspect of his business, he still finds time for the projects close to his heart. One of those projects is Save Polaroid, a campaign he began earlier this year to save the dying medium.

When Polaroid announced the discontinuation of its instant film products earlier this year, Save Polaroid was started as a reactionary movement “to convince another company to begin producing the cherished technology that Polaroid has so carelessly abandoned.” Tubridy has taken a liking to the Polaroid SX-70 camera, and on his site he showcases a gallery of shots using the vintage camera. “There are things you can create with Polaroid film that you just can’t duplicate with regular film or digital—transfers, emulsion lifts, hand manipulation.” In the months following Save Polaroid’s inception, the site has been featured by media outlets including the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Given the dexterity of his creativity, Turbidy’s upcoming showcase at Art Attack 2008 could host any number of projects, but he’s decided to focus on what he enjoys: Blue Over Blue will be displaying a variety of original screen prints, digital prints, and T-shirts. For Tubridy, it’s a situation akin to eating your vegetables before you can have your dessert. “I take my graphic design business seriously, and I try to keep illustration and printmaking fun.” That sense of enjoyment transfers to Tubridy’s sharp and vibrant illustrations, which cover a wide range of styles, appealing to fans of both graphic art in the manner of Frank Miller as well as to fans of contemporary pop art.

Tubridy accepts that working as an artist means straddling the line between doing what he enjoys for a living without becoming burnt out by demands of his clients. “I think it’s that way for any artist. You strive for success, but then some of what made it fun gets lost in the business of it.”

[This article was originally published by the TC Daily Planet.]