NAME: Shawna Stroup Billet
LOCATION: Houston, TX
Sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why.
I create from experience, travel, and inspiration. If something moves me emotionally, I am usually triggered to create from that experience. I have learned to let go of having a consistent voice with the subject matter, and to create from whatever inspires me at that given moment.
Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist?
I have been creating since I was a child. Creating and painting have been a way for me to connect with others and express myself. Originally from North East, Ohio, I majored in art with a focus on drawing and painting and minored in education. I have over 20 years of professional art experience and have been teaching high school art for 15 years. My initial exhibits were in Cleveland, Ohio, and in Canton, Ohio from 2000-2013. In 2013 an opportunity brought my husband and I to Texas and I began exhibiting in Galveston, Houston, Dallas, and Austin. I always dreamt of being able to show my work as a child and am so grateful to be doing it now. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me.
What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?
I am a mixed media artist. I find it extremely rewarding to use a variety of media to create an
effect or work of art. There are no boundaries, no limitations as to what you can create. It is
freeing and I love that!
Is there any particular experience, person, place, or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.
There are many layered reasons for my creating. First, my parents have always been supportive of my creative expression and encouraged me to pursue art school. I also had an influential professor in college, whom I am still in contact with to this day. He continues to push me and challenge my work. I am also highly influenced by travel, food, and experiences. I can thank those who share these experiences with me and empower me to create. Lastly, I am strongly encouraged by my love for animals and people. I have been creating pet portraits for clients for over 10 years. This experience has given me a chance to listen to memories that my clients have experienced with their pets, and entrusted in me to create an image that will forever capture that memory. If art can make me connect, and feel, I think that it’s the right thing to do. I have a pet of my own and I realize the importance and joy that it brings to one’s life.
What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it?
It is always a vulnerable experience to show your work. It’s like giving a small sliver of your soul away in a sense. I always find it interesting as to how others interpret my experiences or can share their experiences in response to my work. In relation to my pet portraits or commissions, it’s always nerve-racking to reveal a finished piece to the client hoping that you have captured their vision. Inevitably I want the individual to be happy, to feel the care that I put into each brushstroke. When you see they are truly happy and impressed with your craft, it is absolutely rewarding.
What did winning the Award for Excellence mean to you?
Winning the Award of Excellence was an enlightening experience! I was blown away that my work was valued and appreciated at this level! I was fortunate to have my husband, sister, friends, and colleagues there to witness this accomplishment. It was truly special!
What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?
Do not be limited to your own insecurities. Get out there, connect, and learn from others. Get involved in your community. Let your artistry become known. Have confidence in what you are doing. You are putting your soul into that work and it is worthy of being seen. It is truly life-changing.