Describe Your Path to Design:
When I was a kid, I was fascinated with art from throughout history. From cave paintings to the Renaissance to modern comic books, I saw great value in understanding and exploring the visual world of mankind’s creativity and sought to become a part of it through creating on my own. For a long time I was mostly just interested in illustration and painting, but as my taste in media moved into the modern era I discovered that one of my favorite art forms, comic books, were all still drawn and inked by hand but colored digitally on computers. This got me interested in the technological side of creating art, and I began to colorize my drawings in Photoshop. From there it wasn’t a big leap to start doing completely digital pieces, and graphic design and logo work came quickly after that. I was blown away by the precision and geometric perfection of digital elements and wanted to blend them with more organic, hand-drawn aspects to create something that was a bit of both.
To be honest I don’t have many favorite designers, though I do have a lot of favorite designs. The individuals I look to for inspiration are mostly illustrators and painters. These would include Jamie Hewlett (illustrator), Ashley Wood (painter), the immortal Frank Frazetta (fanstasy painter), Godmachine (album cover/poster arist), to name a handful. On the design side, I’m a huge fan of the Art Deco (1930s-40s) and Art Nouveau (late 1800s, Alphonse Mucha was a master) styles, as well as the more modern Diesel Punk aesthetic (a lesser known cousin of the Steam Punk style, focusing on dystopian futures, DIY machinery and clothing, wasteland survival and the post-apocalyptic collapse of modern society and culture. Think The Road Warrior.) Pablo Picasso was a huge influence on my early artwork, with his abstracted and twisted versions of traditional subject matter (the Old Guitarist from his Blue Period remains one of my all-time favorite pieces by any artist). The Pre-Raphaelite movement in the mid 1800’s was also a very interesting time for art, and always a favorite of mine.
Advice for someone wanting a career in design?
Look for inspiration everywhere, especially the unexpected places. In this day and age it’s imperative that an artist be fluent in graphics software if they want to be a part of the design field. School is the best place to learn this, but there is a lot to be said for doing it on your own as well. But if there was one thing I would say is most important it would be this: BE FEARLESS. Don’t be timid about thinking outside the box when it comes to what elements and styles and content you include in your work. There is no wrong answer, only poor executions and unoriginal ideas. So try not to conform to what you think people want to see and instead try to guide them toward newer and more original ideas of your own creation. 99% of the time, the results are much more effective than if you simply churn out something they’ve already seen.
Have you ever felt insecure about your work?
EVERY DAY. Especially in the early years when I was still learning so much technique and fundamentals. I could never look at my work objectively, and I was constantly wondering, “Do I totally suck at this? Are people just being nice to me because they don’t have the heart to tell me that my work is actually really bad?” This can also happen when I look at another artist’s work that I perceive as being leagues better than my own. The only thing I can use to combat this is looking back at my previous work and seeing significant progress from year to year and season to season, knowing that while I’ll never truly have an objective opinion of my own work, I can at least be satisfied with being better than I was. I’m always learning new things, improving my ability to fully translate things I imagine onto paper, and I try to look at that process as the real goal, and not the actual art itself.
How do you overcome?
By taking every compliment or criticism as just what they are: words. If you want to overcome anything, you must be willing to trust yourself. If you can know, not just believe, but know that you have the power to move on despite any kind of set-back, you’ll be unstoppable. At that point you won’t have to try and perform for the world’s approval, they’ll instead be struggling to catch up to you.
Are you better in the early morning or late night?
Definitely late night. The stillness and solitude of working hard on artistic endeavors while the rest of the world slumbers is an almost magical experience. I find that ideas come much easier in these hours, and since you have more freedom to find inspiration on your own (through listening to music, watching movies, reading books, etc) it seems easier to let the creativity flow without being self-conscious about how you express it.
How can someone hire you to help their business?
Email is the best way to contact me with requests for work: shaycscranton (at) gmail.com. My website is shayscranton.com, and features examples of my work, from illustrations to gigposters to logo work.
What is your Waco connection?
I grew up just 15 minutes south of Waco, and even as a kid I spent a lot of time in the city proper. When I was 18, I moved into my first apartment on the far east side of town, and aside from some traveling in my early twenties I’ve been here ever since. Waco is a bit strange, as anyone who lives here knows, and I’ve always been drawn to and intrigued by strange things.
Here’s a million dollars to spend on Waco, what do you do?
I would actually go very simplistic with this idea: Set up a facility where people could come together to make, participate in, and enjoy art in all its forms. Supplies to create visual art of any kind would be available to anyone and everyone. Musical gear, including instruments and recording equipment, would be available to new musicians and experienced players alike, and anyone wanting to share their tunes with a larger community of artists would have the freedom to do so. Collaboration would be the key to the effectiveness of this kind of space, and cross-pollination of styles, ideas, and mediums would be the the upmost priority and point of encouragement. Screen printing, bike building, filmmaking, urban gardening, fashion and clothing, and even a stage for bands to perform on would all be things I’d like to see there. And if possible, a DIY garage to modify and create vehicles from salvaged parts would be pretty awesome. Again, think The Road Warrior.
EDITORS NOTE: Shay’s original design is below, its completely mind-blowing. For budget reasons, we couldnt paint that. But its incredible and should be permanently on display. Thanks Shay, your mind is a special place.