Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaina Craft.
Shaina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I knew I wanted to be an artist since I was in 6th grade, but I didn’t know what kind. I thought I would end up going into graphic design or packaging design, something practical. I was taking some classes at Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania and on a whim I decided to take a beginning painting class. I fell in love. I’ve been painting ever since. Later, after getting a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, I realized I wanted to hone my skills with the figure. I had ideas for paintings that I couldn’t quite execute so I did some research and found the perfect grad school. The program at New York Academy of Art taught me traditional painting techniques and gave me opportunities to show and make connections in New York. My professors encouraged me to grab every opportunity I could and I ended up exhibiting with First Street Gallery, Dacia Gallery, and in the Affordable Art Fair with SaatchiArt. After grad school I moved back to Philadelphia where my partner was finishing his PHD and it was there that I found PoetsArtists. They are a community of artists run by Didi Menendez that produces publications and gallery exhibitions. Didi works hard to promote the work of all of her members. The most wonderful part is that my new-found community will follow me wherever I go. So, when my partner was offered a position at Northwestern, I said yeah, let’s move to Chicago. It’s a wonderful city for artists and I like new adventures. Now, I’m here in Rogers Park and even though I don’t know many people in the area, I have a community to fall back on.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When I finished my BFA at MICA, I was greeted with the realization that being an artist meant I was running a business. I didn’t know how to do that. But, you find your way. Now, I’d say I spend about 40% of my time managing the business and 60% making work. I’d like to spend all of my time painting, but that’s just not reality. At least not until I can hire an assistant (and probably not even then). When I’m painting or drawing, I don’t think about any of that though. The art market has to stay outside. It’s the only way to keep the work honest.
Being a painter is a little bit like being on Survivor, Extreme Budgeting Edition. Everyone has slow sales months and you need to find additional revenue streams that will keep you going through those times. I’ve had many side jobs, some art related, some not. The best one I ever had was working for a local potter in Philadelphia, Liz Kinder Ceramics. I got to be creative and work with my hands, but it was far enough removed from what I do in my studio that it didn’t drain me. Right now I have the ability to be in my own studio painting full-time and it feels like such a gift.
Shaina Craft – what should we know? What sets you apart from the competition?
I graduated with an MFA from The New York Academy of Art in 2015 and a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011. The act of making art is an exploration. In the act of painting I find that there are always new questions to be answered. I create figurative oil paintings and works on paper that explore contemporary and classical techniques. My artworks have grown from the history of the grotesque female body. She is unretouched, raw, comfortable in her own imperfect skin. I believe the terms beautiful and ugly can be interchangeable. Or rather, that subjects historically associated with the abject or the grotesque can be represented in a way that both defies their traditional roles and makes them powerfully beautiful. I make art that connects with people on a personal level. My work is very emotional, it looks back at you, challenges you.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success is different for everyone. When I was in college, a huge goal of mine was to have work in a museum exhibition. Now, several years later, I’ve been in two. The first one was six years ago at the Art of the State exhibition at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg. The second one was last year in the inaugural exhibition of the brand new Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art. If I hadn’t set that goal for myself I don’t know that I would have found those opportunities. Now, I’m at a place where I have online representation with UGallery and PotatoMike, but I’d like to pursue representation in a brick and mortar gallery. That will allow me to participate in the larger art fairs and give me freedom to spend time on larger pieces. On a broader scale, someday I’d like to make a Shaina-sized dent in art history.
- Petite Paintings range in price between $350 and $1500
- Larger paintings start at $1600 and go up to $6000
- Works on paper range in price from $300 to $4000
- Website: http://ShainaNoelleCraft.com
- Email: ShainaNCraft@gmail.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shainacraft/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShainaCraftArt
- Other: https://www.patreon.com/ShainaCraftArt
All photos courtesy of Shaina Craft