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Life and Work with Shelby Orebaugh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelby Orebaugh.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shelby. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was always an artist, even when I was a child. I focused on it through high school and went on to receive my BFA in Illustration (minor in Art History) from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI ( I was born and raised in Metro-Detroit). There I met my crime-fighting soul mate Brandon Heavner. I also completed internships with a local nonprofit and a small gallery where I discovered my joy for bringing community together through art. I had the opportunity to participate in and organize events, community murals, I also had the opportunity to interview and write about renowned artists. Brandon and I decided we wanted to pursue our dreams somewhere new, which is when we moved to Colorado, which has taken a huge place in our hearts and brought us a lot of happiness. Moving across the country to start a new life has also had its challenges and has sometimes kept me out of my studio for months at a time. I always go back through and remember why I’ve chosen a difficult career path where I can live doing what truly brings me peace and satisfaction, even when it can at times be just as crippling and an ocean of unknown dark waters. Since being in the Denver area, I’ve participated with a couple of RAW events which were fun. I’m in the beginning stages of being involved with the Denver Art Society, I’m hoping soon to have work featured in the Sante Fe Art District. Long term, I would like to continue creating fine art but I want to pursue a tattoo apprenticeship, and eventually open my own small gallery that focuses on local emerging artists, but doubles as a communal space for intimate events, a learning space, even a meditation space.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road. Sometimes the anxiety of not knowing how I will ever make the jump to being an artist and just an artist is terrifying. I especially am not fluent with the digital side of art. It has come to be difficult because of a lot of freelance or small design job require a lot to be digital, this is something I’m learning is okay to branch out and learn about because the more diverse I can be means at the very least I am flexing my creative muscles. When I feel like I haven’t been using my skills for a long time I can especially become depressed because it feels all my time and energy are going towards things that aren’t getting me to where I want to be. Although whenever I get a fresh burst of inspiration and push even a little harder I absolutely always see results, and things start to actually feel attainable. My best advice to young women trying to make it as a working creative may sound redundant; nothing will happen overnight. In most cases, there is not some ‘big break’. You have to push and dig little by little even when it feels like everything is pushing back. I truly believe that hard work does not go unrewarded.

Please tell us more about your art.
I am a surrealistic oil painter. I also enjoy working with chalks and charcoal when I want to work fast for fun. I feel like my work can be best described as me portraying the weird and creepy that I see deep in mind, and I simply want to see how I can portray that in a beautiful and feminine way. I like the balance of dark and beauty, life and death. My work has an organic flow, usually with a lot of saturation so the image is vivid for the viewer. My works typically portray the female form, almost always hairless. I believe when I paint a woman with hair, it takes away from the equal parts of strength for what our bodies can do, and yet how beautifully intimate they are which deserves nothing but respect. As an independent artist, I’m proud that my work continues to become more fluid and technically speaking better.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
I have a couple of anatomy books, I like reading magazine like Juxtapoz, but mostly I keep myself exposed to my favorite artists: Hannah Faith Yata, Esao Andrews, Guy Denning. There are a lot of UK tattoo artists that are out of this world that I like following as well.


  • Prints $15
  • Charcoal Portraits/Comissions $50-$125

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Instagram: @twistyartist
  • Facebook: @twistyartist

Image Credit:
Shelby Orebaugh, Brandon Heavner

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