Artist, Mile End
“At the risk of sounding sort of ‘airy fairy’ it’s really the vibe here. People will talk to you about a project and then you do it. But it’s also really unpretentious. It’s just people doing things. I feel like momentum begets momentum and the biggest reason, if I shortened it, of why I moved [to Montreal] was momentum. I felt like something special was happening here.”
Shauna Eve, illustrator, painter and tattoo artist-in-the-making, arrived in Montreal by way of New York. Originally from Vancouver, the multi-talented artist felt a restlessness and growing sense of urgency ignited by her time in the Big Apple and made the move just over two years ago settling in the Mile End.
Shauna, similar to her work, contains a quiet and mysterious energy. Statuesque, long blond curls and with a quick Cheshire Cat grin, she speaks softly with poetic flourishes of emotion. No doubt, there is something fairy-like about her. But before you can fully cast her in your fable, she will come out with a delightfully acerbic comment that slices through that princess persona. Her illustration work, for which she is primarily known, possesses these same qualities and contradictions. Delicate line work, reminiscent of old school medical woodcut drawings, of everyday objects, disembodied body parts or small creatures, upon closer inspection, reveals a darker, deeper narrative.
“A lot of [my] subject matter is a blend of mundane objects that are elevated – like imbued with a sense of power, talismans and endomorphic surrealism. A lot of the images I get are often from dreams, like actual physical sleeping dreams, or daydreams. Especially when I am processing relationships or thinking on what it is to be human. Sometimes you can feel so alien and other times you can feel so connected…I wanted to draw things I couldn’t necessarily articulate or say.”
This is hard to imagine, in Shauna’s presence. Striking as she may be, it’s her enigmatic personality and eloquence that pull you in- she might be inclined to story tell with a pen or pencil but she’s not too shabby with words. This natural charisma, combined with her humor and warmth, has only benefitted her in the MTL arts scene, which might have otherwise been challenging to break into being, as she describes herself, “cripplingly Anglo”.
“I’ve always had an affinity for people. I love connecting and finding out more. I’m very curious about people…you get to know people and find out some of your passions line up. You end up introducing or recommending each other to people. Or it seems like a conversation you can have 6 months ago [can lead to the next job]. You really just have to be out there and engaged. Whether it’s going to parties or shows or art openings- you’re talking to people and they are aware of you. And something will come up, like recently I did art for a band called Thus Owls. That’s how most of my work happens – it’s just through conversations I’ve had.”
Shauna has embraced social media as another tool to grow her clientele and leverage the reach of her work. Acknowledging the divide between fine arts and commerce, for her platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr have been a bridge connecting her to new opportunities and a surprising source of motivation that people are indeed paying attention. This realization came at a time when Shauna was struggling with fully embracing her identity as an artist.
“I grew up drawing and I always had this affinity for art. But there were a couple years where I didn’t draw. I wasn’t really doing it; I was living off point a bit. When I started painting again and posting pictures- I was immediately getting all this encouragement and it made me want to do more. Over the years, that’s evolved to having a bit of a following online. People will actually message me to do stuff just based on stuff that they have seen.”
This coupled with an unwavering support from her parents (they still pin Shauna’s work on their fridge) has fortified Shauna’s voice as an artist, most recently bravely venturing into the unchartered waters of stick and poke tattooing. For her, art isn’t just giving a voice to her psychological exploration but creating a space for others to find their voice.
“You have to look [as an artist] at what you are bringing. A lot of my art is around looking at things that are unspoken. I tend to be pretty emotional. I think sometimes when you can go there and open yourself up – you don’t just do it for yourself you do it for each other. In that sense, I’ve started to realize that just because I love it so much and I am happy about it doesn’t mean I have to justify it. It is what it is. It’s what I am good at.”
No arguments here.
Shauna’s first solo exhibition opens at Espace Pop November 20th. Not to be missed.