Young and Restless

By Seth Combs
Portraits by Monica Hoover

(Published in the October 2010 issue)

When Celeste Byers visited the Playboy Mansion earlier this year, Hef and company were hoping to convince the striking 21-year-old to pose in their magazine. Instead, the Ocean Beach native left them with something else to remember her by.

“They wanted me to be a centerfold,” says Byers, who shares a mutual friend with Hef’s girlfriend, Crystal Harris. “I had my art with me and I gave Hugh [Hefner] some of my stuff. People were really surprised that I did these things. I was reading a book and multiple people were shocked that I was even reading.”

So, while you may not see Byers herself in the pages of Playboy anytime soon (she politefully declined after spending three days at the mansion), her art seems destined to grace the pages of periodicals soon enough. Influenced by the Abstract and Pop Surrealism art movements, she creates intricate, psychedelic worlds using paint, pencil, collage and even sewing techniques.

Whether it’s youthful energy or a prodigalspirit that drives her, she’s been able to produce enough original pieces in her short career to have landed her art in galleries as well as on the covers of local papers.

“It has just come naturally to me,” says Byers, who splits her time between San Diego and the prestigious Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena. “Right when I got to art school, people were always talking about other people’s styles. I’d always talk about it in class-that I was searching for my own style-but then people would tell me, ‘Celeste, you have your own style.’ I don’t know if I was conscious of developing it. It just happened.”

Byers style recently scored her a gig designing a skateboard for the skate company Santa Monica Airlines. More recently, she’s been preparing new work for an art show on October 9 at the new Bedouin Vintage Collective store in North Park.

“I’m so excited to be home and working,” says Byers, having recently returned from vacation in Southeast Asia. “I’ve absorbed so much new stuff, so now I know this is what I want to do.”