Be sure to RSVP to see mixed media artist Shana Calano's newest series based on roads, maps and contour lines at the next San Diego RAW showcase at the Se Hotel on Friday, July 30th.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Shana Calano and I am originally from Walnut Creek, California. I went to college at UC Santa Cruz, studied fine art and graduated in the spring of 2008 with a Bachelors degree. I like to consider myself an abstract artist and I work in a few different mediums including painting, drawing and mixed media. I’ve been living and and creating art in San Diego for nearly two years now and am excited to display my newest mixed media series based on roads, maps and contour lines at the showcase this July.
How did you first get started making art?
I first started making art at a very young age. I was always very creative as a child and loved to draw, write stories and paint. In middle school, I learned the joy of binder doodling during class and always got in trouble for not paying attention, and in high school, I practiced cartooning, drawing and set design. I didn’t take my first real art class until college so I feel like my artistic journey is still in its beginning stages. I have grown immensely as an artist in the past 6 years and I feel like every year my work gets stronger as I develop my style and hone my skill.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My aesthetic varies from piece to piece. I tend to create art that is “busy” with different colors, textures and materials. I guess I would say that my aesthetic is fun, engaging and...sparkly. Most of the time, I like to use lots of layers that make the viewer really get into the piece and wonder whats going on. I also think that I take a somewhat commercial stance when creating art because I really like to take into consideration how it will look in a space. A lot of the work I make does not have deep meanings, but is purely aesthetic and interesting to the viewers eye. I see myself as a designer when I create my work and I think my main goal as an artist is to make art that people REALLY want to hang on their wall. I also believe that as an artist, its not my job to give meaning to each of my pieces, but the job of the viewer to extract their own feelings and ideas from them.
From where do you draw inspiration for your work?
I draw inspiration from various places, depending on the piece or series I am working on. In the past, I have worked with concepts such as memory and identity, but I have also gotten inspiration from simpler subjects like the ocean, sunsets and music.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love being able to fill my own house up with my creations and I love the idea that someone else’s house can be filled with them too. I think it is interesting because if someone buys one of my pieces and displays it in their house, it means that we, as people, share a common interest, aesthetic or idea, even though they may not know or care to know who I am. I like that people can get a good sense of who I am as a person by looking at my work and I think that an art collector or buyer gets to share something of them self when they purchase a work of art that relates to them. Not everyone can express themselves creatively and I love being able to be that vehicle.
Do you engage in, or draw inspiration from, any other forms of art?
I have done a lot of work that is inspired by music and songs I know. I believe that music is my real life’s passion next to art and I love having the chance to sometimes incorporate music into my pieces. I definitely chose to study music instead of art in high school and always wanted to be a singer, but as you can see I took the practical career route and decided to study art in college...
From start to finish, explain your process; what does a typical art-making day look like for you?
It’s funny because the process is different for each medium I work with. Typically I start with project ideas. The process for this begins with coming up with an idea for a series. For this showcase, I have taken an idea from a drawing I did in college and have decided to make a large group of drawings based on that one. It is going to be a mixed media series that focuses on the use of lines and maps. When I sit down to work on this particular series, I have to organize all of my materials, decide what size piece I want to create, and in which specific style I want to create the piece in. (I have 4 styles and 4 sizes for this series). I usually grab a caffeinated beverage, sit down at my desk and start throwing materials together. Sometimes I have to do prep work like creating the actual pieces I want to collage together, or researching and printing images I want to use. I can get lost in my work for hours and really like to finish what I’ve started in one sitting, but obviously that can’t always happen. Once I’m in the zone, I don’t like to break my train of thought, but art can’t be rushed, otherwise the end piece is often sloppy and anticlimactic.
Medium of choice?
I’ve been alternating between acrylic paint, mixed media drawings and chalk pastel. Currently, I have been doing a lot of mixed media because I find it really fun and interesting, but I usually get tired of working in one medium for too long. This can be a problem because my body of work is very varied in subject matter and design. It doesn’t all flow coherently together, but I think because I am young and relatively new to the art scene, I am not done experimenting with different styles and I have no intention of being on of those artists that does the same thing in every piece. I’ve been told that an artist needs to build their own specific trademark style to be recognized and remembered, but I think once I have a larger body of work, the connection will become more clear. My trademark is the materials I use and the fact that I am a well-rounded artist when it comes to being able to produce interesting work in multiple styles and mediums.
What sort of techniques do you most like working with?
As I’ve mentioned already, I like to make art in layers and use a lot of different materials in my work. I also like to recycle my work and update my pieces when I get good ideas for them. Some of my paintings were started and supposedly finished in college, but over the past year I have taken them out and completely redone them because I feel my skill has drastically improved since I’ve been working on my own. I usually leave part of the original for a layered effect because it gives a piece much more depth and meaning when there is a story behind its origin. For my showcase series, I took two related pieces from college and used them as a basis for the creation of 20 other pieces. This idea in itself is a technique that I like to use because I like to work with multiples and I love the way they fill up a space when they are framed and finished.
Are there any artists or art movements, past or present, that strongly inform and influence your work?
I have always been influenced by the Surrealist movement, but I don’t think it really shows in a lot of my work. Salvador Dali is my favorite artist because I love his clever ideas and shocking imagery. As I’ve gotten older, my work has gotten less conceptual, but I still really respect art that is born out of an idea. Carsten Holler has also been influential because I like to make trippy art and I think his work is absolutely genius.
Why showcase at RAW?
It seems like a great opportunity to show my community what I do. I have been doing coffee shop shows and very small events in San Diego, but this seems like something that people might actually come to. I think it will be a great experience and hopefully I will get to meet some people in the art world and do some networking. I really appreciate what RAW is doing to help young artists like me break on to the scene. The art world is brutal because everyone is an artist and everyone else is a critic.
Favorite thing to do outside of your craft?
Not gonna lie, I’m kind of a party animal. I really like to get dressed up and go out on the town, play drinking games with friends and get silly. I also like to sing, write, cook, read, snowboard, wear costumes, stare at cute puppies, listen to loud techno, drink margaritas, eat bomb food, and travel. My husband is a pro poker player so I also really enjoy watching him play (and win!).
Any current rising stars within the art arena that you would recommend we look out for?
I don’t know to many other artists, but Lydia Martin is someone that comes to mind. I really love her work. We have done a few small shows together and I have no doubt that if she continues painting, she will do very well. Also, my friend Kasi Jorgesen. She’s still in school at San Diego State, but she has a very interesting style and I can’t wait for her to come into herself as an artist.