Los Angeles based artist, Shawn McKinney is a painter, sculptor, fabricator, actor, and art director. He has a wide body of personal work along with extensive involvement in the independent film industry. His artwork has been showcased worldwide from Orlando to Los Angeles.
If you're a regular DICE Magazine reader you'll recognize Shawn's art, he has a signature style. He has been published by them in over 10 editions. After reading just a couple you could really get a sense that Shawn sees a bit of beauty in just about everything. Shawn's art distills the love for the past and all things grunge. His style could be described as David Mann meets Wes Lang at the zombie strip joint for some beers. Maybe that's a little much- but one thing is for sure Shawn McKinney is a "freak". The good kind, you know the kind your friends with, you're not entirely sure why but you know they are always gonna show you a good time.
Probably the reason he can tolerate living on skid row is that it doesn't really bother him that a bunch of crazy shit happens right outside his studio door. Instead of looking at all the darkness in the world; Shawn brings light to these parts of our society, he reminds us that those things are here to stay and if we shift our focus a bit we can see the beauty in them. Shawn has been working with Urban Helmets since origin. We spoke with him a little bit about the creative process and what it means to be an independent artist.
u: Being a creative person who makes things for a living, even under the best circumstances, can be hard. People in our society have the idea that art isn't legitimate unless it's difficult. If they walk into your studio and don't see the latest and greatest technology for fabrication, how do people respond to your artistic process?
sm: I think most people when they walk in my studio don’t know what to expect. For the most part, I don’t have any crazy technology besides a computer and regular old cutting tools. Everything I do is extremely hands-on. And usually has it's very specific process to get in result. I think most people just don’t have the patience to sit down and work on them for days or even weeks.
u: If you start working on something and realize it’s not what you want it to be, is it hard for you to scrap it? Do you kill your babies?
sm: It’s never hard to scrap an idea that I don’t like or think is it of all been in the way I wanted to. You have to be able to destroy the thing you love to make it better. Sometimes it will take two or three tries with the illustration or even with the sculptor re-doing it a few times until it’s exactly what I wanted to be. Third times a charm!
u: People know you for your work within the motorcycle industry. What got you started in the film Industry?
sm: I’ve always been interested in film since I was little kid didn’t really understand the industry until I move to Los Angeles, I moved to Los Angeles 15 years ago to be a Special effect makeup artist. Now I usually do production design...
u: How did you end up doing what your doing now?
sm: Keeping my nose to the grindstone out of the pills...
u: Did you establish your aesthetic on your own, or were you part of a larger community?
sm: Most artists are nothing without their assistance very rare to find somebody who makes everything by themselves. I’ve always tried to hire people who are better at what they do than what I am.
u: Why didn’t that become your primary creative path? Or were you just the kind of person who is always interested in doing a bunch of things simultaneously?
sm: People always said to me jack of all trades master of none, But I’ve never believe that. I want to learn how to do everything. Never stop learning...
u: For someone who’s doing a lot of different projects, how do you organize your life? Not just your creative life, but your life in general, in a way that makes it manageable?
sm: Easy, just make a list. Start with the easiest thing and then the next easiest and keep working...
This was an insider look on an all American artist. Shawn really keeps things cool and we are proud to have someone so talented besides us on this Journey. Check out some of the merch we've created with Shawn's kickass art.