Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Huckins.
Hi Shawn, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
It all began with a school bus ride home in the second grade. I sat next to this random older kid who was drawing in his sketch books with colored pens and I found it to be really fascinating. When my mom got home from work, I asked if I could get some sketch books and pens. She did and I spent most of time working in these books drawing whatever interested an eight year old at the time: sports icons, video game characters, cartoons, etc. In 1993, my grandmother passed away and to everyone’s surprise, there was a slightly used oil painting kit in her closet. My family seeing that I was interested in that sort of thing, gave me the set. I had no idea how to work the medium and found it completely maddening. The only thing I enjoyed was the smell of the oil paint. After I did my one and only painting, I returned to my sketch books and didn’t paint again until late high school. I was still preferring to draw as my preference and it wasn’t until later in college when I started to enjoy painting. I had an amazing professor who helped and mentored me and the process became enjoyable. I really started to love painting at this point and it was made even better when I sold my first big painting my senior year. I got my degree in the Studio Arts and moved to Connecticut to work for an architectural firm building scale models. It was a great and exhaustive experience. I moved from this position to work as an artist assistant for another artist which was amazing pay and flexible hours. While I still had day jobs, I worked nights and weekends on my own body of work. I was slowly starting to get a cohesive body of work and my work was starting to appear in magazines and online. Then the sales started to come here and there. My partner, Matt, was offered a job position in Denver, so we decided to leave CT and move to Denver in 2011. It was this moment where I went full-time artist and luckily my gallery representation was picking up, as well as sales. The thing you learn is that nothing rarely happens overnight. My career is built upon lots of hard work and dedication, missed weekends, and TONS of rejection. But eventually, it all works out.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have been very fortunate to always have a steady income, whether from day jobs at the beginning, or from art sales currently. The only struggles for me are the mental stresses you get from the rejections, or the bad feedback. It puts me into a funk where I hate everything I’m doing and want to throw everything away. I think, though, the majority of artists go through this, so I know I’m not alone which serves as reassurance.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m mostly known for my paintings combining 18th century classical painting with current day digital language (text acronyms, memes, etc.). My entire body of work are physical paintings and not digital reproductions. My initial process begins on the computer to help me work on the composition, but once I’m satisfied, the image is drawn onto canvas where I employ traditional methods of painting starting with a warm underpainting, followed by subsequent layers of paint. When I began this series a decade ago, I felt this was a truly unique body of work that I’ve never seen before and the messaging was powerful. Now, I see tons of artists combing classical paintings with current day technological symbols, or icons. I’m ready to move on with a new body of work which is in the preliminary stages and will debut in 2022 in Montreal.
How do you think about luck?
Luck. Such a tricky word. Some believe it and some don’t. I’m a person who likes to think that my hard work and motivation has contributed to where I am today, but I also can’t say for certain that it’s ALL because of that. I think luck or superstition has played a role for sure. When something good happens, I think my luck is going well and this puts me a positive mood which makes me more productive and that leads to more opportunities.
- My work generally starts at: $2,500 and goes up to $42,000
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.shawnhuckins.com
- Instagram: @shawn_huckins