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Artist Spotlight: Shlives

– by Julianne De Souza

When Shannon Lively talks about his illustrations, ‘gross’ is a recurring word. With his cartoon-based art features crazy, pained expressions and lots of psychedelic splatter patterns, this isn’t all so surprising. “Giving someone multiple eyes or multiple mouths, or personifying them, trying to give them a little personality through what they look like – it’s good fun.”

Lively, who is an RTRFM radio presenter and voice actor as well as an illustrator, traces his love for art back to his high school days. “At school I was never really doing a lot of my own work. I was drawing in my friend’s math book all the time. From that, I sort of realised that I actually do like this drawing stuff. So more recently, in the past six months or so, I’ve been drawing heaps.”

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Flash forward to the present day and Lively’s high school doodles remain present in his constantly evolving artistic style, which he describes as “weirdo doodle heads” and “gross out stuff”. He cites intentionally grotesque ’90s cartoons, such as Ren and Stimpy, Rocko’s Modern Life and Angry Beavers as huge inspirations, as well as cartoonist Ed Roth and his Rat Fink creation. The American cultural phenomenon, Kustom Kulture, also plays a huge part in his artwork. “There’s a whole magazine for this Kustom Kulture, which is more of an American thing, but it’s called Pork Magazine and they just really go overboard with this horrendous style. I really love that stuff, the really gross details are fun to draw.” Lively’s role as a radio presenter on RTRFM means that he finds inspiration not only from other artists but also in music. “I really like the genre of music called ‘folk punk’, which is like normal punk but with all these really weird instruments like banjos and tubas.”

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As well as working on his own artwork, Lively collaborates with musicians by creating stickers, t-shirts and CD covers. “I did a t-shirt for The Bennies, who are a Melbourne-based ska punk band. I did some local work for Grim Fandango. I did a single cover, which was pretty fun. It’d be great to get involved with poster design for bands as well.”

Lively has contributed to livening up Colosoul headquarters with an impressive mural, which took three days to paint and incorporated paint markers and acrylics. Despite a minor setback with his markers — “They’re very solvent-y and I didn’t have a mask the first day. So they warped my mind a little bit on Friday night. Sparks in conversation with people and not remembering what I was saying to them” — Lively considers the mural one of his favourite pieces. “I would love to do more of that stuff around Perth – massive murals of gross heads and all kinds of stuff – which is what I really like about the Perth scene.”

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While broadening his career with illustrating, radio presenting, and voice acting, Lively is currently doing a bachelor in Digital Design at Curtin University. “Digital Design is mainly animation based and web design, so it’s a really broad spectrum of things to learn. There’s motion graphics and frame-by-frame 2D animation, 3D stuff, web design… You learn a little bit of everything, which is good.” He is also in the process of setting up his portfolio website, which means that his art will be accessible to the public. “I’ll have links to all kinds of stuff you can buy, like sticker packs and things like that, for people to get a little slice of my art. I really like the hand-drawn nature of it. I want to produce art that’s one-of-a-kind. If someone got a sticker from me, it would be hand-drawn, hand-painted and hand-cut because I don’t like the reproducing nature of things, [I want to] make it all more personal.”

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Lively’s plans for the future are to collaborate with other local artists, such as Potion X, RLSM and The Girl Toy, and to generally become more involved in Perth’s street art scene. “I’d really like to do a Wall To Wall challenge or something like that at the Little Wing Corner Gallery, that could be sweet.” On a grander scale, his dream job would be to have his own animated TV show like Superjail! or Gravity Falls. He hopes to be able to paint around the world like two of his favourite artists, Sheryo and The Yok. “I want to travel around and paint up places and hopefully get paid for it – but at the same time I’m not really doing it for the money. It’s a bit of expression and getting known is pretty cool. Just being appreciated through your art is pretty nice.

You can follow Shannon on Facebook and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Eduardo Martinez and Shlives

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