Artist + Art Teacher
Shyanne Clarke’s glorious smile and beachy demeanour are as warm, inviting, and uplifting as her eclectic botanical and kaleidoscope colour artworks. As far from the traditional benchmark of artistic squalor you can imagine, it features shapes and pieces inspired by her surroundings and love for the beach, classic elements of design, illustration and handmadefonts, all unified through her signature colour palette of the rainbow.
Shyanne’s story is a little unconventional – meaning she didn’t follow a stock standard career trajectory. Instead, she finished school in Year 11 with aspirations of owning her own surf shop. With plenty of twists and turns and glorious opportunities in this interview you will learn how Shyanne went from retail to graphic designer, to creating textile designs for an Australian Print Studio and even seeing her work in retailers like MYER and the surf shops that she dreamed of owning.
A true lover of life and the kindest personality, I couldn’t be more proud than to bring you this interview.
Let’s dive in.
Where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I moved around a lot as a kid, I went to nine different schools and three different high schools, but most of my childhood I lived at the south end of the Great Sandy Strait. Going to so many schools as a kid meant that I learnt how to make friends easily and could be comfortable in new situations by myself. I used art and creativity as a way to process my emotions while growing up and it was such a strong presence in my life that it made sense that I followed a creative career path as I got older.
When you were a young girl what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a stint of wanting to be a backup dancer for film clips (I was a 90’s kid). I don’t think I really knew what options were available other than the traditional roles doctor/ lawyer/vet/psychiatrist etc. I did love fashion and I would very scrappily make or alter my own clothes and draw/paint on fabrics to make my own textiles, (I became a textile designer) but I didn’t actually believe that a small-town girl like me could be a fashion designer.
I was also wildly obsessed with the surf scene so by the end of high school I did start to pursue a goal of owning my own surf shop and that would be like being part of the fashion industry.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to three public high schools, Gympie State High, Terrigal State High and Port Macquarie High. My high school experience was mostly ok, I had very different friendship groups at each one and was always most closest to one person. I feel that I learnt more socially and psychologically at high school than academically.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
I did all the creative subjects at school, art, dance, drama, music, textiles etc. Exploring myself creatively in high school, through the basics, was important for building a foundation of continuing that curiosity as I grew up. I didn’t believe going to uni was an option for me, financially not being able to afford it but also I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so what would I study.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I did. In work studies I did work experience at Jeans West. From this placement, I was hired casually and it became my first proper job. I learnt so much about customer service from working there and it was really the starting block for wanting to own my own surf shop.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the< courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I actually left high school after year 11 to pursue owning my own surf shop. I went to Tafe and studied Retail with the set plan of working my way up to management to understand how to run a store and save in the process to purchase my own. I abandoned this goal at 19 when I did end up a manager and had to work seven days a week – which didn’t feel so fun to do for the rest of my life. Visual Merchandising was my favourite subject of the Retail Certificate.
Later in my mid 20’s I went to CATC design college and studied Graphic Design. This came about from moving into banking once I left retail, getting married, having kids and then craving creativity on maternity leave. I began drawing again, was creating textile designs for an Australian Print Studio _ Kukukachu, working largely in the Adobe suite. I wanted to develop this knowledge and be able to do more print work, packaging, magazines etc. This has been a hugely beneficial skillset to have, it allowed me to be able to create my own websites, print collateral, logos, digital illustrations, books, photo editing – it’s endless, I have done so much with it in my own business and marketing as an artist. I also did get to uni eventually, just recently actually, I began a Fine Art degree at Queensland College of Art but dropped out. I would have loved this as a teenager, but as a mid 30’s human, I feel my work and life experience to this point outweighs what they can teach me now.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights?
I feel my career journey has always been a stepping stone to where I am now, everything has been useful and beneficial for the next thing.
I was a customer service analyst and coach at Westpac Bank in my early 20’s and I enjoyed this role, it felt grown-up, I was earning a great salary and it helped me to understand money on a new level in my personal life. The biggest thing I learnt from this role though, was that I desperately needed to have a creative career.
Highlights have been freelancing at Kukukachu print studio. This really was a platform for me to build a creative career and move into being an independent artist. Having my artwork on fashion labels stocked in Myer, David Jones and internationally in Nordstrom has been surreal. Walking into stores in Hawaii, Bondi and Noosa with the whole store full of my prints was a pinch-me moment too.
Painting my first mural, being a featured artist in an outdoor gallery alongside amazing artists and even just the first time I had to do a self-employed tax return from artwork I had created was an exciting milestone.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
I’m self-employed, I break this up part-time as an independent artist and I also teach part-time at a local Fine Art School here on the Sunshine Coast – Art School Co. How I became an art teacher was from attending classes to improve my technical illustration skills at Art School Co. After a year, I mentioned that I would love to teach at the school also. Funnily, it wasn’t that I was a working artist that got me the job, it was that I always had good manners, said hello, encouraged other students and had a positive attitude. Being a kind human was what got me the job, skill was just a bonus.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
The emotional rollercoaster you go through as a creative human. Have you seen the JuneLetters.com quote? It’s real life.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
Nothing is a typical day, but I am usually getting around looking like some variation of a rainbow paddle pop.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
Frida Khalo – I love her style, strength as a human and bravery of being who she was. Also Walt Disney. He was such a dreamer, he was all about the details, he didn’t take shortcuts and that is why he was so good at creating magic.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
The great thing about being an artist is you get better with age so don’t stress that you are running out of time. Experience will make you a better artist – play. Also, find a mentor that is always learning, they will teach you more than you’ll ever realise.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @luxeycup
- Favourite Podcast: The Design Files Talks, Art Curious with Jennifer Dasal, One
Wild Ride, The Psychology Podcast.
- Favourite Netflix/Stan/ Series: Frankie and Grace, The Good Witch, The Umbrella Academy, Hart of Dixie, Brooklyn 99, Friends, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, Emily in Paris, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
- Who is your mentor? (This can be a person you follow for advice, or an IRL person). Fine Artist – Jessica Le Clerc.
- Favourite all time book/s: The Alchemist – Paul Coelho + Lost Flowers of Alice Hart – Holy Ringland + This is how it always is – Laurie Frankel + P.S I love you – Cecelia Ahern
- Favourite App that you use every day: Podcast App or Kindle/Audible App. Always listening, always reading.