Shannon McLaughlin/ You Wanna Talk Jive

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 25-year-old gal living in Philadelphia with my husband and our six pets. Several years ago, I graduated from Kutztown University with a BFA in Communication Design (concentrating in illustration) and am currently the Editor-in-Chief of a local monthly publication called Bucks & Montgomery Living Magazine. Writing and editing have always been one of my main interests, but illustration will always be my obsession. I tend to devote my evenings and weekends to illustrating, which is definitely a relaxing transition from the fast-paced publishing environment.

Tell us about your recent artwork.

My most recent series, “say hello to my little friends,” consisted of exotic pets drawn with colored pencils on cross sections of trees. As a pet lover, I’m around animals a lot, which is why exotic critters tend to seep into my work naturally. As much as I’d like to live in a world where I’m free to sip tea on my couch in the company of a fruit bat and ferret while watching Bravo TV marathons, I know that some dreams are too good to be true. Upon this bleak realization, I decided to surround myself with a fluffy menagerie of exotic pet illustrations.

I’m also working on a series of illustrations of dogs that have been rescued from local animal shelters, as well as dogs that are currently in Pennsylvania shelters. I plan on eventually having a show exhibiting these works, with proceeds donated to the PSPCA, where I have recently become a membership benefit partner ( Ideally, I would like to use these illustrations for a children’s book I plan on writing that will educate kids and their parents about the benefits of adopting the family dog through a shelter.

Have you exhibited your work?

Right now I’m expanding my exotic pet series for an upcoming show at the Philadelphia International Airport, which will be on exhibit in one of their main terminals from May through November 2010. I’ve already shown the series thus far in Philadelphia at Cafe Estelle ( this past April, which was a success. I completely adore the quirky employees over there, who are an absolute pleasure to work with (plus they have the best breakfast pizza everrrrrrrrr).

What interests do you have other than art?

Apart from art, animals and writing, I’m also interested in music and I’m a huge pop culture geek. I’m completely addicted to Lost and wouldn’t mind it if Sawyer walked around shirtless in my living room, that’s for sure. I also love spending time with my husband (who shares my crush on Sawyer, shhhhh) and having quiet nights together with our pets.

Have you collaborated w/ other artists in the past?

Most of my friends are photographers, so I haven’t really been able to collaborate with any of them, but I’m definitely open to the suggestion! I’ve certainly been in my fair share of photoshoots with artsy friends.

Who and what are your influences?

My brother, who is nine years older than me, was (and still is) a huge influence in my artistic career. He took me under his wing and taught me everything he knew about drawing and painting. From teaching me how to sketch characters from “The Little Mermaid” to touring me around art museums in New York and making sure I read Artforum every month. He always supported my interest in making people smirk by exploring odd subject matter. I also respect the fact that he has always been honest with me and doesn’t hold back with constructive criticism. Family members usually want to hang every piece of your art on the fridge, even when inside they are thinking, “Dear god, that is one ugly ass drawing.” It’s nice to have someone to go to who will tell me when my work is great or where I need to improve. I’ve learned so much from him, from marketing my work to building a comprehensive website and learning how to “edit” my portfolio and to not just show everything I’ve ever created.

I’m also influenced by my husband and friends who are always motivating me to keep on truckin’. Animals have always been inspiring to me, especially trying to get the word out about how important fostering and animal adoption is. Other influences include: flea markets, junkyards, vintage yearbooks and children’s books, super bright & tacky patterns, trips to art stores, my Google Reader and browsing

Looking back, how has your style changed?

In college, my style was much more painterly and I tended to use mostly oil paints or make mixed media pieces that combined found objects and drawings with marker on layers of tracing paper. I think I went from going out of my way to try to be uber conceptual to now just drawing things that make me happy and come to me more naturally. I’ve always been pretty fascinated by brilliant, vivid colors and attention to detail, and I think that is still consistent in my work.

Have you had any other careers? How have these influenced your career as an artist?

Apart from being an illustrator and Editor-in-Chief, I was also a salad bar bitch for a while at the Old Country Buffet, which I ended up creating a zine about. I was also a hostess at Red Robin, but I only lasted a few days there after memorizing their massive menus. I was a cashier assistant at Costco one summer but got tired of lifting everyone’s giant-sized food out of their carts, so I quit that as soon as humanly possible and decided to draw poodles instead (super responsible, I know). Seriously, who needs a container of mayonnaise that big?

Favorite films:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Harold & Maude

Least favorite films:

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Oh my god, worst CGI evah!) or I Know Who Killed Me (so bad it’s almost good)

What are you reading right now?

Several books on Italy since the hubs and I are planning our belated honeymoon for next Spring.

Favorite music:

The Flaming Lips, Ben Folds, Travis, Beck, Johnny Cash, REM, Bowie, Magnetic Fields, My Bloody Valentine, Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown, Rufus Wainwright, Remy Zero, The Pixies, Paul Westerberg, The Bad Plus, The Replacements, The Velvet Underground, Jeff Buckley and many more!

Favorite comic strips/comic books:

I love graphic novels, especially anything by Harvey Pekar, Scott Mccloud, Julie Doucet, David B., Art Spiegelman and Marjane Satrapi.

Last concert/performance attended: Travis at the Theatre of the Living Arts in Philadelphia last month.


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