Sydney-based freelance artist, designer and illustrator Sha’an d’Anthes always wanted to get into the creative field ‘I told my mum I wanted to “write and draw my own books”,’ she says. d’Anthes began taking painting seriously in 2010, selling her first pieces for $15-$20 with her customers sending her cash in the mail. She now works selling original pieces, prints, and as a General Pants Co Bubble artist. She has created art for bands like The Never Ever and Nevershoutnever, and even tattoo designs which she describes as, ‘the ultimate compliment!’
When it comes to bringing her concepts to life d’Anthes talks about how important sharing is in being a part of that process, ‘often I’m motivated by my “fans” (for lack of a less self-indulgent word), they really deserve credit.’ d’Anthes favors painting with watercolours – ‘there’s just something about it! It moves around the paper as if it has a life of its own and I find that quite exciting’ – but also dabbles in installations and other mediums.
A city-born girl, she explains that her whimsy pieces, based in nature, are often about the idea of getting way from the demands of everyday life, a fantasy world she uses as an escape from the city, ‘I think it’s great to remind people how beautiful nature is, so that they don’t forget with everything else going on. I guess it may intrigue people that live in rural areas too because of the surrealistic qualities, and I think that’s an extra element to remind people that magic still exists even if it’s only in your mind.’
It’s that magic that allows her audience to be drawn, in her words, into this exclusive world, which while it parallels our own, is not far removed from it, ‘the natural world is often there – void of the man-made and clothing – I think this is due to my views on environmental sustainability and conservation. It’s kind of like showing the world an alternative to the metropolis and inviting them to the sublimity of nature.’
Despite being shy around new people Sha’an managed to overcome her nerves when her friend, photographer Jack Toohey, suggested her as a Bubble Artist to General Pants Co: ‘I didn’t know what to say and was kind of hesitant at first, I’m not good with crowds of new people and I had so much work for [university] to do. He gave me one of the best pieces of advice in that phone call “Sha’an, if you’re scared and willing to give up this opportunity, you should drop out now and become an art teacher”. It really gave me a kick in the pants and I agreed when I got the email from General Pants that night.’
An active networker, d’Anthes scored herself another opportunity, to work on the album art for band Nevershoutnever’s new album Indigo, by emailing David Conway (Working Group Management) and asking if she could design something for Christofer Drew and his band. ‘He replied with great enthusiasm which really gave me a buzz! He said he was surprised and that my work was “amazing”, and straight away told me that most of his bands weren’t at the stage of concepting album art, but that he was interested in me designing him a tattoo, it was our first project together and I guess we used it to test the water – a test with big stakes! Haha!’
After deciding to continue their working relationship d’Anthes was finally able to create almost all of the album art for Nevershoutnever, which includes a 12 page lyric booklet made by using ink and textile, matching the colours of the front cover (not designed by her) to everything she had made: ‘I’m so excited to see them using my work on their website and social media. Such a milestone for me since it’s one of the first things I networked for when I started getting serious a year ago.’
She offers three pieces of advice from what she has discovered through her own trials as an artist: Network, be inspired and above all practice, ‘you’ll be amazed by the difference a couple of weeks can make!’ She reminds young artists especially to not concern themselves too much with what others think; ‘remember: visual culture and art is SUBJECTIVE and no one is qualified to tell you your work is shit or to discourage you.’ She says, warning these artists that they should learn what constructive, and what destructive, criticism really is: ‘One can improve you as an artist and a person, whereas the other is intended to hurt you and will be detrimental to your happiness.’
In the future fans of d’Anthes’ art can look forward to new collaborations including some with her boyfriend, Rocket K, a photographer/videographer, which will include process pieces; a surfboard she will be painting for a documentary about a coastal road trip in which the board will be featured; new paintings, sculptures and photography works; and the Finn Collective Show. ‘There are going to be a lot more opportunities for people to buy work, and fun new handmade goodies! I am so excited!’ She finishes.
Words by Ellen Wardle, originally published for www.fawnmag.com.au
Image credits: 1 -3 Sha'an D'anthes artwork.