Story of an Artist: Shirin Illustration

Shirin Sheppard is an artist specializing in animals and fantasy illustration. Her art is the balance of realism and mysticism. Shirin is a woman of imagination and honest talent. This interview is simply inspiring, gives you the motivation to create what makes you feel alive.

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What is your personal mantra?

‘I wasn’t born with a talent, I was born with an interest’. Any skill requires years of hard work training, art included. Although some people can be inherently better at something and perhaps learn quicker, I believe the most important thing is interest and perseverance. Anyone can be an artist and start at any age with a little dedication!


Where did your love for art manifest?

As far as I can remember I’ve always had a love for art from the moment I could pick up a pencil. I have a lot of memories of childhood pictures I drew, many of which I have still managed to keep. The earliest drawing I can remember doing was a brightly colored Easter egg! The sorts of things I enjoy drawing haven’t really changed much over the years either, I’ve always favored drawing animals and fantasy creatures, I think I could say that my interest was largely inherent.

When it comes to drawing animals and fantasy how do you find inspiration?

I find music really helps the creative process and often listen to it while working, otherwise simply observing nature. The natural world is full of inspiration!


How does your environment influence your creative process?

I like to be in as a natural setting as possible as this has a positive impact on me, sometimes I’m lucky enough to live in such a place, other times not. I’m rather chaotic in my personal environment, my mother used to say it was pretty strange that I could create such order (my detailed drawings) out of such chaos (my desk looking like a bomb hit it with barely any space to work!). Perhaps my drawings are a way of creating some much-needed order in my life.

What are some of your daily routines to keep your creativity lively?

I’m pretty awful at routines and this is something I need to get better at. Although I don’t do them every day, I find going out for walks in nature and general active pursuits to be important for maintaining a healthy mind and stay creative. Variety is also important to me, I’m unproductive working on one thing for too long and usually have several projects on the go at once.

Dragon 3

How has art positively impacted your life?

Creativity has always been an important outlet and place to retreat to when life is not so pleasant. In particular creating fantasy creatures and worlds for them to inhabit is fun and relaxing.

Based on the work you have done, what project emotionally touched you the most? 

I actually don’t get that emotional about my artwork, especially since quite a bit of it is realism and I often approach it from a scientific and technical perspective (my background is in science). As such, it’s a little hard to answer this question. Generally, I get the most emotionally invested in pieces which could tell some sort of story rather than just a realistic drawing of an animal. The one I’m particularly fond of is a now older piece of mine ‘Twilight Dragons/ A Mother’s Love’ depicting a mother dragon and her young in a cave during sunset.

Dragon Love

What advice do you have for an artist who is just getting started?

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel your work is initially good, no artist ever stops perfecting their skills and the vast majority of skilled artists spent years, if not decades, honing their abilities. All artwork has value, as long as you enjoy doing it that’s the most important thing, skill will come in time!

Credit: All photos are owned by Shirin Shepard

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