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Meet Krista Shiner of Shiner Studios in North Park Hill

Today we’d like to introduce you to Krista Shiner.

Krista, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, surrounded by trees, lakes, and rivers before joining my sister, Nicole, in colorful Colorado a year after high school. This connection to the earth and the energy that fuels all of creation serves as the endless inspiration for my life’s work as an artist and entrepreneur. I want to bring beauty, healing, and humor to the world. 

 In a larger context, I want to connect my artwork with my passionate love of the earth and its inhabitants. My career is evolving into something far more expansive, yet specialized, bringing me full circle with what materials I want to continue creating with, what to eliminate, and why. 

 I have explored many forms of artistic expression since early childhood. It has been my life-long passion. I’m grateful I grew up with music and the arts as a fundamental part of my education: Drawing, painting, music, dance, clay, cooking, language, writing, design, metals, jewelry, fashion, gardening, and more. I remember saying when I was little that I wanted to be an artist. As I got older, I thought I would create art on the side as it seemed art wasn’t necessarily something to pursue as a means to earn a living at that time. What I wanted to do when I grew up changed many times- an environmental lawyer, a biologist, neurologist, herbalist, massage therapist, arts management, and mycology. Always science and earth related. What I did know from a young age is that I wanted to travel the world, continue learning Spanish, and always create art. While attending college, I took a painting class and fell in love with it. I had painted but this was different as I chose it. At that time I was working full time at a stock photo agency in Denver where my boss became like an uncle. I expressed my confusion on what I was going to school for as I fell in love with painting. His advice was, “Do what you love and the money will come.” So I did. I changed my major to a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts with a painting emphasis and a minor in Spanish. I dabbled in the idea of becoming an art teacher and did a year of student teaching only to discover it wasn’t for me in that context.

So when the Denver location of the agency shut down I lost my job. It ended up being a blessing in disguise even though it was before Thanksgiving. A friend (Stephanie Beckman, Acute Angle Design) had a company as a seamstress creating custom bedding, curtains, etc. and suggested I look into painting murals because I had sold a few paintings and to print a round of business cards. Then to go to this holiday party to find and meet Jessica Gauthier. So I did. I did my first project with her that January. The image of me rolling up to this large mansion in Cherry Hills Farm in my 86’ white Oldsmobile cutlass Cierra still makes me laugh. I had never been in a house like that before. We were doing an oil glaze finish on walls where it looks like a soft plaster. Not long into it, she said, “wow! you’re good.” I was bumped up pretty quickly and eventually was managing projects while working on them. She then introduced me to Sara Noel with Noel Designs and from there I worked with them both as an independent contractor, Krista Shiner Decorative Painting. Thus the beginning of nearly a six-year working relationship with the two of them that began my career in the decorative arts. I was able to balance completing college while working and move to Mexico for a semester to immerse myself in the language and the overall culture while attending university there. Jessica and Sara were my initial mentors who became dear friends. I am forever grateful to both of them for their overall support. I would not be where I am or who I am without them. I have worked with other artists in the Denver area too over the years, all of whom I am grateful for and the networks created in working together. After college, I almost went into partnership with Sara then decided I wanted to go out on my own. I formulated Diseño September 2006 (Spanish for Design) since my minor was in Spanish and I worked alongside a lot of Hispanics where I felt we could connect and help each other.

I joined BNI Action Partners in early 2007, an international networking group association for referral marketing. It became a great source of entrepreneurial comradery of where I met some of my close friends and began defining my business and building contacts there. Most of my work came through networking of various kinds, referrals, and referrals from prior clients. My first big project was in 2007. I subcontracted to Stellar Painting through Mortenson Construction in completing decorative paint finishes for the Elways Restaurant when the Embassy Suites downtown was turned into the Ritz Carlton. That was a large project; mostly as it was a large scale renovation with many moving parts where I learned a lot as it was my own project. It set the stage for future project capabilities. I’m grateful for Guy Miller with Stellar for contacting me to submit to that project. I received a letter of recommendation from Mortenson for my work and for being able to translate and work well with others. From there it has been a journey continually learning material compositions and accumulating a wide range of project types crossing over into multiple industries. 

In May of 2010, I changed the name of my company to Shiner Studios (plural) to exemplify myself as a multidisciplinary artist and allow for potential expansion in the future. The name Diseño was not very easy in marketing at that time either. 

I have nearly two decades of hands-on experience as an artist working in the architectural decorative arts, studio arts, mentorship, immersive apprenticeships, cultural exchanges, and extensive research into correlating eco-conscious materials, I’m able to transform spaces in numerous capacities. 

I’ve worked with homeowners, luxury real estate developers, design build firms, contractors, and commercial entities such as restaurants. And often collaborate with designers, interdisciplinary artists, design-build firms, architects, and builders. I would love to expand on this and utilize my years of experience to create more earth inspired artwork, paintings, public art, and wellness spaces for homes and businesses around the world; fully bring my vision and 10+ years business’s tag line “The Art of Healing With Art” to fruition.  I really want to co-create with others whose visions and passions are symbiotic to my own. I feel I have been building a foundation specializing in utilizing concrete formulations, a myriad of paints, plasters, patinas, and natural objects and materials interconnecting the spectrums of art, biophilic design, and the healing arts. 

This overall facilitates being able to support my local and global communities in greater capacities. Fulfilling a mission I’ve always strived for where I can support my community even more. Locally and globally, monetarily, time, and art donations to organizations and causes I am passionate about. The environment as a whole, animals, children, elders; all those who have no voice and rely upon others to stand up for them. 

My artwork, paintings mostly, remains true to my love of nature as I paint elements stemming from my adoration of trees and flowers to the very biology of life itself. Conceptually my artwork has always been inspired by the energy that fuels all of creation. I would say biophilic design defines a large part of what I am passionate about in my art creation and business endeavors. Bringing the outside in and restoring connection to nature in our home and work environments on many levels. With nature-based art I want to visually remind people that we are all part of nature, it is grounding and thus the cross-cultural medicinal qualities that plant life/the natural environment provides us to exist harmoniously, especially in cities. This connection to nature and natural elements expands into materials and processes I’ve been researching and experimenting with throughout my life.  I’ve always been thinking green yet I haven’t truly stepped into it to the extent I’ve wanted to and that is a large part of what is evolving in my work and overall business offerings. 

 Most of my career has been outside of galleries though I still have intentions of applying to exhibitions locally, nationally, internationally, and perhaps have them hanging in public spaces on consignment. I’ve been slowly working on a new collection of work and have to set a deadline for myself on completion. By August perhaps? While I love creating paintings in my home studio, or at my new favorite place, Art Gym (that is unfortunately closed at this time due to Covid-19), I’m also energized by working collectively with others where we can create something amazing together. I’m committed to building a sustainable livelihood that benefits all collectively and individually. Now for that co-creating partner to come along and really shake things up with me lol.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. Such is life. Lol! It has been an interesting journey of following my heart and the synchronicities the powers that be have laid out before me. I’ve created some of my own road blocks and mistakes for sure. Always a learning experience. Every time I have tried to venture into another line of work, something pops up that is like, “No”, such as a project or encountering someone who encourages me to persevere. Even when I ask God to show me why I am here, boom, right back in the arts and sciences. In whatever we choose in life, everything takes practice, time, and patience to build a foundation of knowledge and continue to grow so this is no different to me than a 9-5 in that sense. As much as there have been times of regret, self-doubt, comparison to other artists and business owners, overwhelm in managing multiple hats, it’s led me to the experience, tenacity, and clarity I have today and what I have to offer. 

An example is when the economy was tanking, beginning in 2008, it was a challenging time to stay afloat overall as I had officially started my business only two years prior. I also bought a house to have space to create and more that I feel took some attention away but has ultimately been a good decision. I fortunately had been working for other established artists to keep working though everyone, construction-related or not, was hit hard. I considered going back to college. I did what I could to generate income and I am incredibly grateful for family, friends, and business associates who helped me, especially from 2010-2014. I created paintings though I was focused more on earning a living and building skills rather than creating art for sale. Established professional artists were struggling selling. It was an interesting time.

To create a niche out of my experience and eco-consciousness of upcycling, I got innovative with concrete applications and formulations to spruce up homes as a means to offer finishes that were not just luxury items. I replicated stone on surfaces so they wouldn’t be in a landfill, etc. I did research and webinars on green build and looked into other related artistic work though I couldn’t get a business loan, like many others at the time. So I slowly developed resources while exploring who my clients were while working in three-four different yet connected industries over the years: Art, design, construction, and decorative concrete; with concrete being a whole other industry in itself. And of which, not many women are, or were, within it. It became confusing of where to put my energy in marketing. I was still building and re-building the foundations of my business, resources, and the clarity of what I wanted to specialize in. 

The last two years I have really deep dived into reconfiguring and restructuring my business and life overall. I had the awareness I burnt myself out by not creating balance in self-care, boundaries, and overall taking on too much-for years. It was not conducive for optimal operations. So I have invested time and resources to restore and transform myself on all levels, gain clarity in what is truly important to me, what lights me up, what I am really good at more naturally, what I want to specialize in, and what is needed to be done professionally and personally moving forward. I’m devoting more time to creating artwork as that is what led me down the path of creating architectural art and really tapping into what is possible with the skills and experience I have accumulated thus far. 

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Shiner Studios – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Well that’s hard to say. I’m considering what a friend told me recently. I could be known for being an authentic person, genuinely good natured. Perhaps that I do my own work, along with others when needed of course, when we need each other, and I’m a hard worker. I feel like I’ve been mostly known for creating concrete finishes, concrete art, earth inspired art, intertwining my passion for the environment. What may set me apart from others is that I am educated within and outside of a classroom in a variety of art forms and subjects. I am able to integrate and adapt my artistic skills into design and construction-related projects where I can create and expand from. Perhaps I am unique in that I don’t “Fit In” in any one industry or group, I never have. Kind of a double edged sword. 

I’m most proud of the fact that even though I have failed at things I have picked myself back up and carried on; lots of tears lol. That at least I have followed my heart in this life time to create my own path, whatever that is unfolding. I know it is creating art and protecting the environment in some or many ways. I’m working past the fears and making it happen, even more so now. I’m proud to be a woman-owned company taking a risk by starting a business doing something I love and have persevered in a largely male industry. I didn’t come from a wealthy family or family of entrepreneurs and although they have been supportive in all ways I have predominantly funded my business and education. I have built my career and business as an artist from the ground up by way of mentors, referrals, networking, learning as I went along, passion and determination for something greater than I can imagine. I am incredibly grateful for my clients, business associates, family, friends, and work experiences throughout this journey.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love Denver. I am grateful I live in a city that is so progressive on so many levels. We have the first openly gay Governor! Denver has always supported the arts and also sees how small business fuels our economy and adds to our everyday lives. We are fortunate to have Denver Start-Up and to have citizens that support our local communities. If someone was just starting out in the arts, this is a great place to be. We have a booming art, culture, and music scene where there are a variety of ways to jump in and express yourself. Overall it has been and is a great place for entrepreneurs in general with numerous resources expanding every year. The one thing I would love to see is more green build/ renovation and I would LOVE to be a part of that. sx

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Image Credit:
Krista Shiner, Lucid Design, Alderview Construction

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