Shawn Murenbeeld, I wear many different hats working in different mediums, from the virtual to the physical

Who are you and what do you do? My name is Shawn Murenbeeld and I’m an art director, designer, illustrator, sculptor and tinkerer.

Why do you do what you do? You’ve heard it before from others I’m sure. It sounds cliché, but there literally is a driving force inside me that always wants to organize, build, improve upon or create.

Shawn Murenbeeld Stitcher
Shawn Murenbeeld Stitcher

How do you work? I wear many different hats working in different mediums, from the on screen virtual to the physical. My methods differ depending on the medium. Since we are taking about my found object sculptures I’ll add a bit of colour to that. I rarely ever make a sketch. The items talk to me. Be it a wooden log or old coffee maker I can look at it and almost immediately see something to pull out of it. Most require little effort, but there are some that take a while to create something. I would say I work fast, piecing pieces together when I have the right parts.

What’s your background? I studied art at a vocational high school taking seven art classes and one academic. From there I attended OCAD at top tier art college in Canada at the time. There I graduated with a diploma in Design and Communication, which is the hat I now wear most days from 9-5.

What is integral to the work of an artist? Originality, determination, self confidence.

What has been a seminal experience? I hate to say this, but seeing the movie Star Wars as an 11 year old. The imagination blew me away. I was always very industrious as a young artist. I’d pump-out about ten drawings each evening. Mostly military aircraft, but after seeing Star Wars at the theater seven times I became even more productive and my art become more fanciful.

I remember spending a lot of time at the office in school, in fact for a while in grade six I had an office in the office, anyways I remember drawing tiny spaceships and pretending to escape in them.

What work do you most enjoy doing? I enjoy carving and sculpting the most, however it requires a lot of effort and time and I simply don’t have as much of that as I used to. Getting old I guess.

Shawn Murenbeeld Kettle
Shawn Murenbeeld Kettle

What’s your favorite art work that you made? One of my favorite pieces is a life size fully articulated wooden carving of an African boy riding a tricycle. The piece sits in my living room and I really enjoy looking at it.

What’s your most embarrassing moment? Probably gym class, again in grade six. We had to do laps around the gym and unbeknownst to me, my junk was hanging out the side of my gym shorts the whole time. The teacher had to take me aside and tell me to stuff it back in. My classmates bugged me for ages.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist? I’m trained as a graphic designer/communicator which is how I make a living. I’ve done this my whole professional life. But as a student looking for summer work I’ve been a; delivery boy for a local paper, dishwasher (probably the worst job I’ve done) a short order cook, salesperson in a men’s clothing store, an interior house painter (probably the hardest job I’ve done), landscaper, mover, worked at a department store behind the fragrance counter (want to meet women – that’s the gig), and at a marina taking care of boats and rentals (probably the most fun job I had).

Why art? I scribbled and drew my whole life. I don’t think I was a very good illustrator, but I loved it. I had mentioned that in High School I was taking seven art courses and one academic – English, unheard of now. So my options were limited. I obviously wasn’t going to major in political science or dentistry.

Is the artistic life lonely? Art can be lonely because you end up spending a lot of time alone in the zone with your art or project. You have to be comfortable with yourself and being alone for hours or days at a time depending. I’m an only child so I’m quite comfortable being alone with my thoughts. I have many friends who simply cannot stand to be by themselves.

What do you dislike about the art world? In my opinion I find it very cannibalistic. I see the same themes and styles repeated over and over and hijacked by other artists. My guess is that it’s always been like this to some degree, but I think the internet has made it more apparent. Also trends. 2 decades ago the object was to not be trendy, to turn the other way do something different. Now I find that if your work is not on trend people aren’t interested.

What do you dislike about your work? Lots of stuff. Namely my inability to be patient and take the time to perfect a piece. I treat each piece of art as a thought, a germ of an idea. I’ll perfect it later, but I never do. Also and my inability to paint. I wish I could paint.

What do you like about your work? I really try hard to do something that is different. I don’t see the point recreating something that has been done a million times. Art is about constantly pushing – being creative. I think that some of my work may be different and that’s what I like about it.

What research to you do? Zero.

What superpower would you have and why? The ability to fly. I’d imagine it would be similar to riding a bike for the first time as a kid. That sense of freedom and speed.

What is your dream project? Theater set design.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Corey Hart (Canadian musician) once said to “never give up and never surrender” 🙂

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