Native Sean Christopher returns to Carlsbad to open up a new bookstore in the Village this Spring. It was once a garage, but now this building nestled between two restaurants on Carlsbad Village Drive offers a unique atmosphere for locals and tourists alike.
Just going by its name, the new local bookstore L.H.O.O.Q Books/Ex-Realism is no Barnes and Noble. The name is a combination of different languages, but can be interpreted to mean, ‘Do what you want and if you believe in it and you think it’s art, then it’s art’. In English, the acronym is pronounced “look”.
Originally an online bookstore, Christopher decided to expand his business and provide a unique atmosphere for people looking for creative inspiration or just a good book to curl up with.
“It was just a shack and I thought, why not try to create a beacon of creativity and inspiration that people can bounce off and share and take from and give to,” Christopher said. “A place like this is almost a dime in a dozen in a city like New York, LA or San Francisco, but here it’s the only one.”
Along with his assistants, Breelyn Burn and Michael Lamadrid, Christopher has transformed this “shack” into a creative environment. Locals donated items ranging from a set of French doors to a hundred gallon fish tank. This adds to the collaborative, community vibe that Christopher wishes to create.
Additionally, to help the community, Christopher plans to offer workshops to the public which will offer classes ranging from writing to fine art to graphic art to industrial design, all taught by professionals in the field. These workshops will be available to all ages in order to expose people to creative fields.
“The emphasis is teaching people that out there, as long as you put much time in energy or whatever your focus is in, the odds of you having a successful career are high,” Christopher said. “Being an artist, as long as you’re really try and working hard, is just as respectable of a pursuit as it is to be a lawyer or a scientist or a doctor. It’s all about the passion and the effort.”
One unique aspect of the bookstore, among many, is the exterior bookshelf which allow people to bring and take books as the wish, based on the honors system. Christopher hopes this will add to the community environment he’s created.
Other offering that L.H.O.O.Q/Ex-Realism will offer include an outside garden and cafe, poetry readings, movie nights and a projection screen to connect internationally with other writers. Christopher has put tremendous effort into creating this bookstore, down to the most minute details such as hand-selecting every book which goes on the shelf.
“These stories on the shelf, if you find the right one that connects to you, it can be as important and life changing to the way you live and your emotions and the way you see the world. And at the very least, as much say your favorite band, where your fashion and the way you think about love and people changes, and that’s what is on these shelves,” Christopher said.
All of this work is an attempt to nurture artistic creativity in the community, something Christopher has a passion for and believes to be essential to society. With the lack of funding for arts programs in the United States, Christopher wishes to create a place that will encourage people to find their passion and pursue it.
“My hope is to bring all the diamonds out of the rough,” Christopher said. “I want to motivate others and be motivated and inspire and do all that stuff that we really dream about.”