MEET: Shaun Henry
Let us tell you about Shaun.
We met Shaun a few times before his interview; once when he came to the office and showed us his collections of drawings and watercolours. We adored them, of course, and set up a chat.
Following the interview, we are even more in love. Shaun is unique in both energy and style; a kind soul with a natural love for the creative - we are honoured to have Shaun within the Doppler community.
Tell me about yourself?
So, I was born in Bristol. A lot of my friends tell me I’m quite laid back. I like to draw, paint and take photos with my camera and things like that. I just try to keep as chilled a life as possible.
So how did you get in to drawing? Did you always love drawing and painting?
I started as a kid, just like everyone does, and it seemed to never stop.
What do you alongside your art?
My actual job at the moment is doing sales. So, door-to-door, stuff like that. It’s given me confidence. I’d like to mix it with my art but I’m just learning at the moment - in terms of marketing and business, seeing if I can develop some sort of concept that works, as well as confidence. Confidence is key. It’s sort of make or break. If you’ve got confidence, or at least if you can do what it is that you need to do, then that is confidence in itself.
How important do you think confidence is?
I’m confident to a degree but it’s more that I try to not let anything hold me back, like say if I’ve got an idea and I don’t feel very confident about it, I’ll just do it anyway.
We love it. So, what work are you doing right now?
I’m working on an oil painting. It’s gonna be a painting with a fantasy type of background and it’s going to have some meaning behind it in terms of the human mentality and how powerful the mind is.
It’s looking at mental health, but not looking at it from a negative standpoint but from a positive outlook. I’m going to depict some experiences that I’ve went through and what I like about it is that it’s going to keep things original. Sometimes it can be hard to stay original.
Does mental health inspire your work a lot then?
I would say more so it’s the experiences I’ve gone through in my life. The struggles, the battles that I’ve had and overcome. The fact I’m still here. I’ve worked through things and haven’t given up. So definitely my experiences, and generally my interest in the human mind in general - like the psychology of my own mind. If I understand my mind, I feel like there’s more of a chance to overcome life’s stresses. So there’s no point having these mental issues that you might have, and then having absolutely no idea where they’re coming from or how to cope with it. You’re just going to end up in a ball of stress in the corner.
So if you are having an off day, what do you tend to do as the thing that cheers you up?
When I’m feeling down I usually get a pen and paper and try to work out what is making me feel down, why it’s making me feel down, are there any reasons behind it? I sort of do a checklist of the things that are making me feel down and delete them off. I try and make a checklist of things that make me feel good and try and do more of that and see how it progresses.
That’s actually something we do to! So, have you managed to exhibit your art a lot?
My first exhibition was as a consequence of me winning an art competition which was like a National Open Art Competition and I was a finalist at Chester Racecourse so I got to put my work up there. That was in Brighton. My second exhibition was in The Galleries, Bristol. I had a shop front for 6 weeks. I did another one there in a different place in The Galleries for 6 weeks and then another one after that too.
Do you enjoy doing exhibitions?
Definitely, and more than that, hearing opinions off other people about my art has given me direction of what to paint and what sort of images to create. I’m always going to paint people, not necessarily in emotional turmoil but maybe experiencing a positive emotion, like happiness, because people connect with it.
How important is it to you that your art sells? If you take away the practical aspect of making an income, what is the emotional response?
To be honest with you, there’s a disconnection there because when I sell something, I could be selling a car and I’ll get a buzz from it. There’s an enjoyment there from sales anyway. I try to not connect the two anyway. Thing is if you emotionally connect something and it doesn’t do well, then you get down. It’s impossible to avoid that.
Your union of sales and art is really interesting. What does it mean to you to be creative?
For me, it’s just about letting your mind run free. Just exploring your mind in general; that’s what creativity means to me.
This idea of creativity and freedom seems to come out in your style too. How would you describe your art?
I would describe it as energetic. I try to make the piece striking as I can. I use quite rich colours and I don’t really water the paint down. I kind of use the richness of it to make it stand out. It’s quite thick, textured paint. I build up layers from thinner to thicker and I literally get to the point where I’m just taking it out of the tube - no thinning out of the paint, just putting it on there.
Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve ever done?
My favourite piece is the one that - to be honest with you - I had the least confidence in, starting off. I didn’t put it up until one of the other artists said to me ‘you know, you should put that up because it’s good’. And I put it up and it sold the most and I was really surprised. Now it’s my favourite piece.
So, within your art or life, who influences you the most?
It would probably be my late mother. She always encouraged me to carry on and to keep doing my work. And my Dad wasn’t so influential, he told me not to do it, but to be honest with you, that just pushed me even more.
Last question… what has been the happiest moment of your art career?
One moment was getting the exhibition space that I wanted at The Galleries, that was good. I used to work for an art gallery, Castle Galleries, when I was selling art. One of the advisors, he became my friend, he was going to work for another gallery, and he did an exhibition there, and he put in a word for me!
Shaun is also one of our creators who will be showcasing his work at the Dop-Up