We customize our lives and the environment that surrounds us every day — from things as big as shaping our own boards to the smallest ones, like adding that little bit of extra milk to our coffee.
In our Custom Spotlight series, we’re exploring the process of some of our favorite artists, musicians, and creatives to learn how they see their world and to find out what drives them to get their hands dirty and bring their ideas to life. We also give them free reign to create their own custom, one-of-a-kind Birdwell gear, and to bring their unique vision of our California tradition into the world.
Though Los Angeles-based artist Shannon Roxanne’s work is meticulous in its execution, her main inspirations will ring true for anyone who's ever spent time in Southern California: the whims of the changing sunlight, the flow of the Santa Ana wind, a yearning for outdoor exploration. A successful, self-taught clothing designer, artist and photographer, she’s constantly exploring libraries, beaches, and exotic destinations on the hunt for new ways to transform space with her designs.
How did you get started?
Garment design was one of my first creative pursuits. Without any schooling or prior background in fashion, I rented a tiny studio in the heart of downtown LA that I produced 4 really well rounded seasons in. At the tail end of that excursion I ended up taking the line to Barney’s in NY, which is something I’m still really proud of today. After that, I explored set design and photography until I visited the Museum of Neon Art. I took a couple classes at MONA and started creating these neon light works that were inspired by bits and pieces of growing up in LA with a minimalist approach.
Tell us about your artistic process.
I really love getting into the idea that space can be dynamically transformed within meditative/abstract visuals and design. An object, scene, or image that creates a sense of peace and beauty is what makes me light up. I find spending time alone really nurtures and brings these ideas to fruition for me. But also in order to do this I really have to be organized externally and internally. Feeling centered, taking care of myself, and being around those who reflect positive/creative energy as well. Also, there is a big research component involved. I’ll try to physically get myself to libraries across the city. It’s a lot more enriching for me versus spending time on the computer. Following that is sourcing my materials. That part always gets me excited because the potential of the piece starts to take shape and come to life. The rest always seems to go by too quickly.
Is your work a collaborative or solo project?
It’s very much both. Sketching, brainstorming, experimenting with different mediums I like to do alone. On the opposite end, community holds such an important archetype constantly in my life. I really enjoy coming with an idea to someone who says something isn’t possible, or will be a painstaking process and figuring out how to make that happen together. The amount of information and education I've gained from those shared experiences is invaluable. I’ve found you can always learn from others and if they are good at what they do, they'll never hold back sharing.
Describe your studio.
My home is my studio + vice versa. I don’t really have a designated space for creating work which has its pros/cons. Without being anchored to a certain room or desk, I can shift up my work zone and train of thought by changing my scenery from time to time. I’m very much a visual person and it sounds silly, but the smallest thing like a chair can change the kind of mood I’m in. On the other hand at times it can be a little distracting. :)
Describe your ideal workplace.
Plants. Tea. Books. Animals.
What does a working day look like for you?
A few, too many cups of tea in the morning while looking over the day/week. Scheduling comes into play a lot for me. Even if I can’t read my own chicken scratch notes, the physical act of taking pen to paper keeps me on track somehow. After that I feel it out. The balance of producing work, keeping up with life, and staying inspired are equally important to me and keep me light hearted. Without one, the others would cease to exist. I try to make time to feed myself intellectually, physically, creatively... a lot of my day is intuitive with what I need to do to stay balanced in that.
Artists/Musicians that inspire you...
The never ending question! So many, but a few constant ones...
Frank Lloyd Wright
The Guerrilla Girls
What does Southern California mean to you?
How important is the outdoors/surf/beach to your work?
Meditative visuals are so many things to me, one of those being, what natural light does when I’m outside. If I’m up early enough to catch a sunrise and watch the sky fade from dark into an array of pale pastels, to the golden warmth of mid day, to a blushing fiery sunset. The mood is constantly changing and flowing. The more I watch and observe this the deeper my relationship to connecting this in my work.
Favorite beach/vacation spot and what it means to your art...
My favorite places tend to be the ones I feel have given me the most culture shock. And I’m always looking for the next one. Somewhere I’ve never been before, preferably with a really steep language barrier that keeps me on my toes and maybe even scares me a little bit. I think that’s what helps me learn and in regards to my work makes me feel really alive, so much so, that my gaze shifts. Immersing myself into a place so fully that I have no choice but to pick up the language, customs and culture is truly a way I wish I could constantly live.
How important is a connection to the past/classics to your work?
Very important and crucial. I really believe what you connect with and are exposed to has a conscious and subconscious impact on what you think and create. The work of so many talented artists before me in all mediums keeps me inspired from painters to architects to so many more. They don’t necessarily have to be visible in the work you create to be valuable to you.
Can you tell us one rule that governs yourself/your art?
Viewer discretion advised.
Check out more of Shannon's work and what she's up to HERE.