Monday, August 15, 2016

Shawn McCann: Twin Cities Mural Artists

Shawn McCann
local Twin Cities Artist

Shawn McCann grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and currently a resident of Crystal, MN.  I have found a lot of inspiration in his work around the Twin Cities and around the country.  I hope you find inspiration from his as well!

How did you get into doing murals?
 I actually fell into mural painting from my chalk street painting.  People started asking if I could create permanent images rather than temporary images and simply went from Chalk to paint.  Now, more and more of my work is shifting to murals and permanent images.  

What kind of art background do you have?  Any schooling?  When did you first start getting into art?
Yes, I went and graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design with a BFA.  I first started painting and drawing as a child and always knew I wanted to be an artist, I just didn't know what that was.  When I went to MCAD, I knew I found my art family and went into the illustration program.  When I graduated, I did commercial type illustrations and also started my career as a children's book illustrator, which I still do as well.  I have been fortunate to have illustrated 25 books along with the many street painting, murals, installations and such that I have done the last 14 years since graduation

What inspires your artwork? 
All of my friends who are creative people, musicians, artists, writers, and seekers of thought always inspire me to keep pushing the envelope and seeing where this crazy world of art will lead.  Its not always easy and art can be such and up and down profession, but when you are surrounded by people that on a daily basis keep pushing you to be the best you can be, it is great.

Do you get artist block or ups and downs with your creativity?
Absolutely.  I don't know many people who don't get the mental block here and there.  When it happens, sometimes its just a matter of visiting with a creative friend, going to a museum or looking thru my art books I have collected over the years to get the juices flowing again.

What is your favorite medium to use?  
I would say my favorite medium to use is one I don't get a chance to often to use, Oil Paint.  I love the richness and the succulent things you can do with oil paintings.  Unfortunately, most of the projects I do don't allow for the use of oil paints or it wouldn't fit right

Which different ways to you feature your artwork?  Do you have a favorite way to show your artwork such as murals on walls, canvas, prints?
The different ways in which my art is seen is thru;  Children's books, installations like the Pop Up Park, Murals both interior and exterior, temporary art such as street paintings, and also with fine art.  One of my favorite art forms is thru street painting with chalk.  It is a process that you get to interact with people that come by and its ephemeral quality gives a urgency to enjoy it while its there.  

What avenues have you used to promote your artwork?
The different avenues include traditional methods with mailers, postcards, in person meetings and reviews, online marketing, online portfolio sites,, and a personal site

What is the most important lesson you have learned as an artist?
The biggest lesson is don't be afraid to fail.  You are never going to know everything or be perfect.  When things don't go our way, you learn from those mistakes.  Also, creating on the edge sometimes gives your work more importance because you are pushing those boundaries a little more.  

What advice would you give to a young artist?
I would keep practicing as much as you can.  Don't worry about mistakes or getting it perfect right away.  You learn as you do.  Also, it is vital to keep an eye and ear out for when others offer critiques and thoughts on how to become better at what you do.  None of us are completely self made and owe a lot of our success to the richness in our lives that influence what we do.

Tell me about the project(s) you are working on this summer. 
Oh boy, I could do a mile long list on this one.  Ill keep it to a few projects.  Currently, I am working on a large scale mural at the FreeWheel Cycle store on the West Bank.  It should be around a 5 week project.  Scattered throughout the summer also include street paintings for the 4th of July celebration in Eden Prairie, Hastings Rivertown days, A trip to St. Joe, Michigan for a street painting festival, a street painting image for the new Vikings stadium launch, and other mural projects for the likes of Boom Island Brewing, The Bad Waitress, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, etc.  

Do you have a favorite memory that has to do with your art?  Maybe someone you met, a place you went or story?
One of my favorite memories/moments was when I was honored to be included in a lineup of my mentors and heroes in the children's book industry.  I was fortunate to be featured for 2 straight years at the LA Times Festival of Books Children's Book stage and got to be in the same lineup as Judy Bloom, RL Stine, Mo Willems and more.  To go up on that stage and be projected by jumbotron to thousands of people was an amazing experience

What other projects have you done?
A few select projects and such include being a part of an international team of muralists that created 15 murals in Macua, China, creating a large scale mural at IIT Bombay, India for Techfest, being a featured street painter at the Wilhelmshaven International Street Art Festival, being a recipient of 2 National Endowment for the Arts Mural Projects and many many more to name.  

Describe your style.
I would say my style is full of color and movement.  I love the ability to create art that makes the viewer take a second look. 

What is the biggest misconception of being an artist?
Biggest misconception is that it is a piece of cake to slap paint on the wall or be an artist.  I liken it to working 2 full time jobs all the time!  You always need to be working in the moment and also in the future for securing future work
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
The freedom to create and paint projects that I want to be apart of.  I don't know if I could go back to working in an office or a cubicle.  I love what I do too much

Do you have a job outside of being an artist?
No, I am a full time artist 

How do you feel you have grown as an artist?  What have you gotten better at, how has your style changed?
I would say that I have grown to be a smarter artists.  Working on things that work for me and also being more direct and approach it with more confidence.  I also have learned many tricks and techniques to make things go quicker and produce better results

Do you have other projects in the works?
Yes, too many to list.  Already booking into late 2017 and 2018

What would be your dream project? 
To be given keys to an entire town and go to 'town' painting any wall or surface I felt would be a good fit.  Bring color to the masses :)

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