Art / Inspire

Urban Landscapes With Jon Shaw

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I discovered Jon Shaw and his paintings at the Toronto Outdoor Art Show last month. I spent a while at his pitched site unfolding the layers of work from his urban landscapes of Vancouver. Striking, with his build up of colour and details in his stylized industrial scenes, I found myself wanting to know a bit more about himself and his urban scenes.

Read on for the full interview….


CD: Where are you from? What to do you for a living? Is your art full time or part time? 

JS: I’m from St. Catharines, ON. I mainly paint for a living now, but I also work as a freelance graphic designer from time-to-time.

CD: What did you study in your school years? 

JS: I have a BFA from Mount Alison University, and I did a post-grad in web design at Sheridan College

CD: Is this always wanted to do? Or did you have another path chosen? Did you ever work in a different job or field?

JS: I always knew I was going to be an artist, so I just figured out a path along the way to make it happen for me (working day jobs in advertising while painting at night, until I built up enough of a following/prominence to be able to focus mostly on painting).

CD: How would you describe your work?

JS: It is urban landscape of industrial and alleyway locations in Vancouver. It is a heavily-layered combination of drawing and painting techniques.

CD: How would you describe yourself?

JS: An obsessor of the beach (every day!), a drinker of iced coffees, a lover of corgis and a non-stop painter ­čÖé

CD: What do you think your work brings to other people?

JS: People really respond to the colourful interpretation of an otherwise dark/grungy space. I love hiding little pop culture references into the pieces along with graffiti, so that people catch a nice shot of nostalgia when they see a cookie monster or nintendo character pasted on the side of a dumpster, for example.

Courtesy of Jon Shaw

CD: Who or what inspires you?

JS: The super eclectic nature of the decaying industrial landscape of Vancouver is a big inspiration for me, and artists such as Nicolas Di Genova (Toronto originally) and lots of the work you would see in Juxtapoz magazine has always fired me up.

CD: Do you certain things or rituals you like to do before you start your day or before you start your art?

JS: Not so much before, but I have to go to the beach for sunsets every single night. I bike from my studio directly to one of the many Vancouver beaches to lay in the sand with friends, watch the waves and the sun, etc. In the winter I walk along the waves in my rain jacket then retreat to a warm coffee shop nearby to read, write or draw.

CD: What makes you happy?

JS: Painting, corgis, beach sunsets, laughing, hiking, biking and waking up every day feeling like it is Saturday.

CD: My phrase behind my blog is “Design You” what’s the best piece of advice from yourself you someone else that you think would help other people to be the best they can be?

JS: I’m learning that balance is very key to great work. Consistently working daily but not to excess. Work hard in a focused chunk of time, then remove yourself and go do other things that make you happy. Exercise, and focus time on friends and relationships too.

CD: What’s you favourite item in your home?

JS: My 8′ x 10′ teal coloured Persian rug.

CD: For people looking to choose the same career path as you what would you advise?

JS: People often ask about painting full time and how it’s “possible” (it IS hard, no question of it)…but it’s important to remember that the majority of artists that I know (really awesome ones too) work other jobs too (part time, or side gigs, freelance, etc)…nobody said you have to JUST paint to be a PAINTER. 

CD: What shows have you got coming up and where can people find you?

JS: I am participating in Art Rapture here in September and then the big, annual studio crawl in November is my favourite event every year (East Side Culture Crawl). I can be found on Instagram: @jonnieredbeard or on my website:

Courtesy of Jon Shaw









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