art | design interview with Shari Mallinson by iva kancheska 30/06/2014

Hello Shari Mallinson! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our magazine. You're an artist from Vancouver, Canada, You work on many types of mediums such as photography, digital/graphic design, you also enjoy writing poems and sculpturing. I bet your art journey took you years to understand people, emotions, creative levels of art, and to memorize the best experiences during the process.

Hi Iva. Thanks for having me! My art journey has taken me to many literally and figuratively wild and wonderful places, meeting some pretty intensely interesting and emotionally varied people along the way. I'm sure I'll have plenty of fabulous experiences and memories to draw from for entertainment in my later years.

Q: How it all started? Were you like an artistic kid or it took long time to figure out that art could be your passion and your best journey?
A: I was a truly introspective kid who spent a lot of time reading in grammar school. I was quirky, quiet and always pretty artistic. It's the one thing people and teachers noticed about me and took interest in. In school I was kinda puzzled that I was constantly being put in special art courses, having my work submitted into contests and shows, or given to Universities, institutions, etc for display. I finally got over being puzzled long enough for art to become my passion and creativity a foregone conclusion as a career.

Q: Can you name at least one person that you're most grateful when it comes to inspiration?
A: I'd feel remiss in mentioning who I'm most grateful to in terms of inspiration if I didn't mention the roots of my abilities and the support that allows me to actually have and nurture my creative inspirations.

I'm most grateful to my mom since I inherited my artistic abilities from her. Without her talent we wouldn't be speaking now. I'm also grateful to my Aunt who was also artistic and my husband for his support because without it I'd have no one to roll their eyes at all my uber crazy ideas. As for a single individual to whom I'm most grateful when it comes to inspiration? I'd have to say I draw from many of the historical greats: Dali, Van Gogh, Kahlo, Gaudi, Michelangelo, etc. Although I can and often do find sparks of inspiration in most people and things.

Q: As I said in the beginning, you work on many creative mediums. Do you have any favorite?
A: Well I'm a Gemini on the cusp of Cancer so I'm generally pretty schizophrenic when it comes to creative mediums. I find myself rotating between them. I'll paint for a few months, go back to drawing, a photography project will come up, I'll then go onto sculpture and then some other idea will pop up and I'll do some "mind work" for a few days and try to figure out how to logistically pull it off, once that's finished I'll spend some time writing and then go back to painting and so on. I'd be hard pressed to choose a single favorite since each offers something very different in terms of expression. Thankfully I get to express myself in a multitude of different ways so I don't have to have a favorite but if I absolutely have to choose I'd go back to the two I've spent the most time with: drawing with pencil and painting with acrylics.

- Which medium gives you most creative freedom?
This is difficult. I guess it would depend on a person's personal idea of creative freedom paired with a medium. The traditional arts; drawing, painting, photography in their purest sense are two dimensional so if we're speaking in terms of spatial relations they're slightly limited by their dimensional capabilities. Sculpture breaks through into the third dimension so offers more in the terms dictated by space. In my mind, if I can create and express what I'm trying to regardless of the medium, whether it be in 1 dimension or 10 and I'm relatively happy with the end result then within those confines I'm creatively free.

Q: Do you remember your first creation, If so what was it?
A: I can't recall my very first creation but I remember one of the first works I did was a political cartoon. I think I was in grade 4 and I was quite the activist for animal rights. I drew cartoons of dogs wearing various celebrity hair coats. One in particular was an Irish Setter wearing a fashionable Brooke Shields fur coat. At around the same time I opened my own small business selling cartoons on ruled notebook paper of quirky little kids on skateboards. The business boomed and I made $1 per cartoon. I used the money to buy art supplies and sold my first truly artistic creation the same year. It was a stained glass piece.


Your paintings/illustrations are really cool, I love the expressive note in each of them.

Q: What details you find as most challenging in creating a portrait drawing? (no matter the medium)
A: Thank-you! :) Portrait drawings are particularly challenging as I find you can technically capture the way someone looks (noses, eyes, lips) but can easily miss capturing the person's spirit or personality. No matter how well the piece was done I found something seemed missing. When possible I started researching the person to be in the portrait. I worked to find out more details about who I was drawing (or painting or photographing). Their stories. What made them who they were (or are). Through the years I stopped concentrating on being completely technical and went with trying to capture their spirit instead.

- Btw. Do you experiment on using new methods or techniques? You can also mention the supplies you most use for your artworks.
When I have time I'll watch videos, peruse artist websites or browse through instructional books to check out new or different methods and techniques. I try to limit the amount of time I do this because it tends to get me super worked up. I then can't sleep for days and it interrupts the projects I'm currently working on and life as I know it. This all being said, when I am creating I'm most often found working with Stevenson or Amsterdam acrylics, Staedtler pencils, older Prismacolor pencil crayons, any 'ol paper I can get my hands on, birch wood, or one of my three cameras; a Canon, an Olympus and a Sony. (I've also worked on skin and am about to start a project with glass.)

Q: Funny thing to mention, If I was an artist with such great skills, I would've definitely try drawing myself in a comic way. Like an introduction of my own flaws/good sides, probably a caricature. haha
- Have you ever thought to try caricature style?
A: Haha, that's awesome. I've done a few caricatures for commissions. I find they tend to be pretty expressive and say more about who a person is, which I like. I have yet to do myself as a graphic novel kind of character although it's on my list of projects. (I jokingly have a list of super hero abilities including superhero ability #147, the ability to capture the cold since the tip of my nose and hands are usually pretty frosty whether it's -5 or +35.)

Q: I saw many drawings of famous artists such as Dali, do you feel inspired by some of them?
A: Last year my fiancé (now husband) and I were driving through farmlands outside of Portland, Oregon and we came to a cross roads that practically shone with some sort of divine light. It was a holy trinity of sorts. One road led to a vineyard, one to a spiritual retreat and one to an art gallery. I'm totally not religious but am quite spiritual. I love art and a good wine so at this point I swear angels were singing down from the heavens above. We chose the art gallery route and came across a Dali exhibit out in the middle of nowhere. It was amazing. The woman who owned the gallery had spent time with him as a kid. I think her father was his manager or some such. She had these great photos of him framed along side his work. The most expensive piece was $300,000. I was mesmerized. I had combed through books of him and the other great artists in Art History in college but seeing them and feeling their energy in person was unsurpassed. The stories and history of each artist had an irreparable impact on me. Although Dali's (and other artists) influence may not be outwardly reflected in all of my work, I'd definitely say they're an inspiration. I don't feel you can experience something (anything) great or small and not carry a piece of it with you. I loved creating the paintings of Dali, Kahlo, etc. It was a form of luminous, historical meditation.

Q: You also work on customs for sale. What are the usual requirements from the customers?
A: The only requirements are a commitment for the client to have the piece created, an idea of what they'd like and, of course, an agreeable budget.

Q: Can you connect your writing style/poetry with your artworks? If so, what are the most common feelings/ideas that you try to express to the viewer's mind?
A: I've actually toyed with the idea of tangibly pairing my poetry with my artwork (the idea is kept in the projects vault in my mind) and have also done a few illustrations for some of my Facebook statuses.

I actually don't spend time thinking about conveying feelings or ideas to a viewer. I feel the human condition alone dictates that all of us, at one time or another, have or will have the same feelings of absolute love, divinity, grace, disappointment and/or various other dark feelings. I feel my work contains a range of emotion that will speak to everyone, on some level, at one point or another regardless of personal perspective.

It's really impressive when a creative, talented person, loves to share their abilities, skills and passions with other people, by giving support and knowledge.

Q: During the busy work schedule, you also do art classes. Awesome! Could you please guide me a bit with some basic info about it? (Please share links where the audience can participate)
- Who can join you classes, should they have some formal art training/talent etc?
A: I offer a few basic, entry-level, pre-set classes in drawing, painting and Photoshop but the majority of my class work is classes that are tailored to groups that hire me to lead them through a creative experience. Students are usually local folks. Some of them have had a lot of formal training and others none at all. I feel everyone has some form of creative ability or talent. The question is whether it's been tapped into or not. I didn't take any serious formal training until I went to college in my early 20's and I only did that because I was expected to go to college. It was fun and I learned a lot but I'm not sure it's the required path for everyone. Additional information about my classes can be found on my website:!classes/ctew

- What are some of the funniest experiences with your students? How do you usually cheer up them if they feel like they are not good enough?
A: My students and I have a lot of laughs together. The most noteworthy was a particularly early class on a Saturday morning, one of my students showed up wearing pajamas and combat boots. I laughed and went with it. I was pretty jealous. That memory still makes me laugh.

I try to instill a sense of artistic worth in all my students. Art is quite subjective so I don't believe anyone or anything is ever good or bad just a matter or personal taste. That being said I also don't believe that one should stop striving to become or do more. If I'm not quite happy with a piece I gently note what I feel could have made it more aesthetically pleasing and I incorporate it in my next piece. I don't usually dwell on it and I hope they don't feel they have to either.

Q: Ms.Shari, so far, after years of experience as a professional artist, what would be your dream creative project?
A: My dream creative project would be either to create a magnificent, original, carte blanche piece for a private collector of my choosing or to travel back in time to co-create something spectacular with the likes of Dali, Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Da Vinci or Michelangelo. I haven't quite aced time travel yet so I'm still working on the first option. :)

Q: Have you ever found yourself hyperactive working on lots of projects and just feel tired a bit? How do you keep yourself motivated?
A: This question cracked me up because this is me in a nut shell. Along with being a Gemini I also often get distracted by shiny objects (projects, new techniques, etc). It drives me batty at times. I then have to stop, zen out a bit, breathe and relax. I then go on to write up a projects list (file it in the project vault) and work on the project I'm either: in the middle of or that excites me the most. Of course, that all stops for commissions. A girl has to put on her business hat at some point.

Q: The hardest moment of your career, that made you climb up to the top (now)?
A: There were times throughout the years that I had personal difficulties with depression where I was artistically crippled and not able to create for small pockets of time. That may have had an effect on my career but thankfully it hasn't been a major stumbling block because ultimately although art is my vocation it's also my antidote. Not being able to create helped me truly appreciate the ability to create all the more.

There were also periods at the beginning that were lean when my work wasn't recognized or valued and that could be seen as tough but as long as I was doing what I truly loved it was difficult for me to recognize that things were "hard" because I was too busy being fulfilled artistically. I just kept doing what I loved and I did it all the time. The career progression grew from there.

Q: Any advice for those who are starting out their career?
A: If you want it badly enough, don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do it. The only time I've ever momentarily faltered was when I foolishly let someone else shake my belief that I could accomplish virtually anything I set my mind to.

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© All photos are Shari Mallinson's original artwork.