Shelby Staton is a 24-year-old artist currently living and working in Conway, AR. From Lonoke, Arkansas, she moved to Chicago for a semester freshman year of college before coming to the University of Central Arkansas that spring. Conway is where she found her home and her passion as a print artist.
From an early age, Shelby knew she was “not made for a 9-5 job, so art kind of fit into that.” Elementary art teachers and support from her parents influenced her to pursue a studio art degree when she started at UCA. Like many students, it took a few degree changes before finding her perfect fit. Elective art classes allowed her to figure out what she did and didn’t like. From her first printmaking class, however, she knew what she wanted to do. Shelby graduated in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in printmaking.
UCA gave her both knowledge of her field and a community. Getting to see the work of professors and classmates helped her to find her art style. “I think all artists are a combination of a lot of people’s different aesthetics,” she says, “I look at my work and see other people’s. It definitely played a part in my evolution as an artist.” She’s gotten to know a lot of other Conway artists through UCA, continuing these relationships after graduation. She says she’s very glad to be able to continue to learn with these people, keep up with their work, and celebrate them.
Because most of Shelby’s work is “place oriented,” Conway shows up in her art in more ways than one. “As an artist I just think there’s something in me that I see differently perspective wise than other people may,” she says, “I see details and think how can that be used in art or made into art.” She is influenced by the land, the people, and the architecture of the city. She constantly takes pictures to understand the world around her. “Because I live here, that’s what I’m taking pictures of. It plays a huge role in what I do.” She likes to look back at these pictures every so often to manipulate them in order to create something new. She adds elements, moves things around, even adds grain so other people can see the beauty that she does.
Shelby’s friends and family also play a role in her work. “They are always on my mind as well,” she says. They have supported her since the beginning and helped her grow into the artist she is today. In addition to them, Conway has continued to support her for the five and a half years she’s lived in the city.
In her senior year, Shelby worked as an intern at the screenprinting shop, Illustrated Sportswear on Oak Street in downtown Conway. There she got experience cleaning and exposing screens and running the machines on smaller jobs. She also got to see the business side of things, learning the day-to-day activities that go into running a small business.
Demure Market has been a great opportunity for her to engage with the community. Small business people are allowed to showcase their work or business there. Additionally, Round Mountain Coffee has an art wall where they allow artists in their art journey to display their work. Shelby was the featured artist for the month of December in 2022, her art being displayed for the entire month. She is extremely grateful for the opportunities Conway has given her and is excited to continue to grow here.
For commissions, you can DM her Instagram or email her at email@example.com. She does people and pet portraits, graphics, illustrations, and t-shirt designs. She is open for any request, just ask.
“Persis “Katy” Reagan is a Writing Major, Public Relations Minor at the University of Central Arkansas. She can usually be found writing, managing the UCA Feminist Union, or making a pumpkin spice latte at the Torreyson Library Starbucks.”