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Image: Lucia Hierro - El Costo de la Vida -Independent Art Fair - LatchKey Gallery

Natalie Kates: Shawn your current group of work is entitled “The Winsomeness of Toil” 

It’s a collection of tools that are enhanced with glitter and mounted on techo-color box frames.  How is this come to be?

SK: It’s easy to forget the beauty in the everyday world around us.  We have become so conditioned as not to see it.  Beauty hides in plain view, right before our eyes, Sometimes a little coaxing is needed for it to be noticed.

I have worked in the nightclub business for most of my life.  I create a fantasy world that allows people to show a side of themselves the world rarely sees, and so often forgets.  We use a little glitz and glamour to remove people from their ordinary lives.

Those hunched over a desk by day, dance on tables.  The quiet girl at the office, sings to the music at the top of her lungs.  The wallflower wears her best shiny dress, making peacocks proud.

Flashing lights, shiny disco balls, bright sparklers, glistening champagne can make the most ordinary people share their inner rock star, escaping their everyday boredom, their routine, the mundane,

Sometimes the touch of superficial can bring out the true spirit and beauty of the individual.  In my work, I capture that same transformation.  I re-envision ordinary objects.   Using a little glitz and glamour to coax the inner beauty out.  To remind us what has been sitting quietly in front of our eyes.

So many shapes, and forms that we use everyday are forgotten in their mundane tasks

Sometimes it takes a little glamour to remind us how beautiful life can be.

NK: Did you go to art school?

SK: Yes, I received a Bachelor of Industrial Design from Syracuse University. 

NK: You work and live in your art studio.  Is it hard to separate the two?

SK: Sometimes it can be very difficult.  I have a lot of work around my apartment, both completed and in progress. Aside from the logistical challenges of having that much art and supplies in my living space is also the challenge of never getting away from my work.   I live with the art, so I am constantly looking at it, thinking about where I want my work to go, how I want it to mature and progress.  Sometimes the constant immersion can be too much.  It’s nice to get away every now and then and let new ideas crawl into my head. 

In my latest series I am working with a lot of glitters and adhesives.  I thus have glitter all over everything, all the time.  It can prove awkward on a first date…

NK: As an artist do you use social media and if yes how important is it?

SK: I understand and appreciate the power of social media.  I use twitter and Facebook regularly, I am also starting to play and experiment with Pinterest

I am most active with twitter using it both as an artist and for work.  I use Twitter primarily to discover new things, learn about new people, artists, blogs, websites.  It allows me to see fantastic images and new pieces of art that I would and could have never discovered without it. 

If I see images or ideas that strike me or move me I try to share them with people who follow me.  I need to share more of my work.

Some of the art people I am following are























etc etc

I have recently started to play with Pinterest, using it to share some of my work as well as capture and catalog images that interest and move me. 

Like most things in life, you get out what you put in.  So as I evolve as an artist, I will continue to use social media to put more of myself out there, sharing my interests and my work with those who I am lucky enough to have follow me.

NK: What are your influences?

SK: Some of my artistic influences are

Anything that sparkles…


Liza Lou


Mr Brainwash

Jeff Koons

NK: What is on your current ipod play list?

SK: Lately my Ipod has really become more of a library.  I tend to hear so much music in my work life (I am in the nightclub business) that I use my ipod to listen to books and podcasts on subjects that interest and fascinate me.  I listen to TED Talks as well as the Philosophers Notes regularly and some of the audiobooks I have listened to lately are

Mortality  - Christopher Hitchens

The Hows of Happiness – Sonja Lyubomirsky

Makers – The new industrial revolution Chris Anderson

Signal and the noise – Nate Silver

Stumbling on happiness – Daniel Gilbert

You can usually find some great house music mixes on there as well. 

NK: If you could be in any museum, which would it be?

SK: I think it would be the Tate Modern.  Aside from being the most visited museum (important to have lots of eyes on your work), it is a cross between the industrial and the aesthetic, which is something that I am trying to capture with my work, thus I think the juxtaposition would be fitting.  Magnificent art in an old power station.  There is a history in that institution, and great contemporary artists have been chronicled there.  It would be an honor to ever be considered to be among them (I think I have still have a ways to go)

NK: If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive who would it be and why?

SK: I think it would have to be Banksy.  Something about sneaking around in the middle of the night making great art that engages its surroundings while making a statement seems like it would be the best thing in the world.

Art + Adrenaline + Political Statements = Awesome

NK: What would you like the viewer to take away from your work?

SK: I want the viewer to remember how beautiful the most mundane objects in our life can be.  I want her to see the beauty in the everyday objects that surround us, those we so easily overlook.  To step away from pre conceived notions and societal norms to see the underlying winsomeness in the world around us.