About the Artist

Clay Seibert (that first syllable is pronounced “SIGH” not “SEE”) earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drawing and Painting as well as Creative Arts Interdisciplinary Studies from San Francisco State University, and continued studies in drawing and painting at UC Berkeley. He has done extensive plein air painting in the US and in Europe, and has taken courses and workshops in fine art and painting in France, Italy and Spain.

Clay has been a San Francisco resident since 1975. He has designed and done renderings of custom made rugs, and interior renderings and color consulting for developers and architects. He sold fine art and renderings to the general public at his first studio on Hayes Street for 12 years before deciding to concentrate on the illustrations for the real estate community.

Clay's illustrations have been featured on the cover and inside of the most recent San Francisco Decorators' Showcase Catalogs and in advertising for Williams-Sonoma's new Union Square Showroom. His drawings and watercolors of some of some of San Francisco's most beauiful homes have appeared in the San Francisco Historical Society's Annual Catalog, and in Christie's Great Estates - The International Showcase for Distinctive Properties.

Over the last 20 years, Clay has done a number of commercial and corporate projects working both freelance and with ad agencies. His watercolors and drawings hang in Kaiser Permanente Offices in San Francisco and Oakland, Seton Medical Center in Daly City, California, and the Phoenix, Commodore and Sheraton Hotels in San Francisco, as well as many professional offices from those of dentists to designers.

“A Sketchy Job”

Last weekend, we were curious to look at the mansion for sale down the block. We are not currently in the market for a mansion, but you never know. We learned that besides its rose chintz wall coverings an decrepit hot tub, the grand Victorian had suffered other horrors. Its previous owner, the real estate agent told us, had been “some big computer person,” and had bought the house less than a year ago for more than $1 million. Fallen on hard times, he was selling it now–for less than $900,000. So what else is new?

But you know what they say: One man’s financial ruin is another man’s bonanza. Which is why Clay Seibert is having his best year yet. Seibert…is the guy who does most of the little drawings of houses for sale that appear on real estate fliers. For 70 bucks, he’ll photograph an agent’s listed property, whip up a drawing of it, and send it to the agent in a day or two, unless the house is already in his files. (Since he started his gig in 1989, Seibert has drawn more than 7,000 San Francisco addresses.) With requests already topping 900 this year, Seibert works 12 to 16 hours a day and has invested in a hydraulic drafting table he can raise and lower, to combat neck problems from long stretches of hunching over his creations. Trained as a fine art painter, Seibert also bought himself a spiffy new easel and plans to jet to Umbria, Italy, to paint landscapes later this year.

Seibert got into the house-drawing biz when a real estate friend suggested he underbid the guy who usually did the sketches for agents. Seibert had been working for a carpet company, where his job was to hand-copy the intricate patterns of antique rugs, so they could be re-created for rich peoples’ floors. Today, he has a rolodex of over 600 real estate agents who use his services and he did 140 drawings in April alone. His work graces the fliers of agents working for Pacific Union, Coldwell Banker, Zephyr, and others.

“There is always someone coming in, doing this for a while, then freaking out and leaving,” says Seibert of the competition. “I’ve developed a rhythm.”

Seibert’s sketches have a hand-drawn look that obviously didn’t come from Photoshop™. And like the flowery descriptions that accompany his drawings (“Beautifully manicured garden!” “Gourmet kitchen”), the pictures themselves are idealized versions of the actual properties.

“I don’t like to lie,” says Seibert, “but I try to bring some romance into it. A sense of potential.” First, he “deletes all the ugliness.” That includes power lines, junky cars, and peeling paint. He also ignores trees, no matter how lovely, that are blocking the view of the house. When a building’s façade is god-awful, Seibert emphasized the “horizontal and beautiful lines” and sometimes adds dramatic shadows. Planter boxes appear where none were, and maybe some ruffled curtains, which Seibert calls “window treatments.”

“There have been a number of houses that were just a box with a window and a door,” says Seibert. “But again, just some flowers to soften it up a bit.”

Until 2000, Seibert drew houses all day long but didn’t own one. He rented a house in the Noe Valley, and was part owner of a house in Napa.

But that year, he drew a Marina-style house on Silver Avenue, off Bayshore, and could no longer resist the romance. He fell hard, and bought the house himself. He now lives there with his two cocker spaniels.

“I love my little house,” says Seibert. “I don’t feel the need to live in all the houses I draw. I already feel like they’re mine.” Unable to resist a corny line, he adds, “I’m drawn to the city, you might say.”

–Lessley Anderson

[“Dog Bites” SF Weekly, Vol 21, No. 42. Nov. 20-26, 2002]


Endorsements

“As a routine procedure in marketing my listings I always have a line drawing done by Clay Seibert. I highly recommend Clay Seibert. He is extremely professional, prompt and very affordable.”
Richard Sax
Pacific Union, San Francisco, CA

“Clay’s illustrations bring out the charm and character of the many fine properties that I have marketed over the years in San Francisco. They have also make sentimental framed keepsakes for sellers and wonderful note cards for new owners. I hope you enjoy working with him.”
Malin Giddings
TRI-Coldwell Banker, San Francisco, CA

“This is to confirm that I consider Clay Seibert to be one the the best graphic artists in San Francisco. With more than 30 years of real estate experience and the former owner of Evans Pacific Real Estate, I have had the opportunity ot work with many artists, and I have found Clay not only very talented, also extremely conscientious.”
Richard Bastoni
McGuire Real Estate, San Francisco, CA

“In the course of my business I represent the sellers of many of San Francisco’s finest homes. Among the tools that I employ in marketing such properties are the architectural sketches of Clay Seibert. The quality of his work is fully representative of the properties I sell. Through the years I have found Mr. Seibert to be dependable, absolutely reliable, timely in his performance, and affordable. I recommend Mr. Seibert as a valued professional colleague.”
The late Florian McGuire Moore
McGuire Real Estate, San Francisco, CA

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