October 31st, 2019
Jesse Gussow

It’s difficult to lump Shaun Talman’s art into a specific label. His work is quite vast and varied. If you could give it a label I guess it would be pop surrealism, but even that doesn’t totally encompass it. His work is deeply emotional. You can literally feel the emotions that he experienced when he created that piece. Often using pop culture characters that you instantly recognize and then his work takes over and shows you what they have become. Monsters, ghouls or even trippy freaks. His work makes you stop, digest what you are viewing and then takes you back to when you last saw that character. It’s truly amazing work.


Where are you from?

I’m from the UK. I grew up in a large town called Crawley just outside of London, which isn’t too far from Gatwick Airport. My parents always dreamed of moving away from all the hustle and bustle to go and live in the countryside and eventually we did when I was around the age of twelve, so now I live in the sleepy little seaside town of Bideford, in North Devon.


How did you get interested in Art?

I was born to be artistic, it’s in my blood. My great grandad was a fairly well-known local artist and one of my ancestors was a stone mason who built various architecture for the royal family. I think creativity just runs in my family as it was my dad who originally got me into drawing. He used to draw big pictures of Looney Tune characters for me and my sister when we were very young, and I would take them to my room and do my best to try and copy them! Through doing that, I started creating my own drawings, and as a quite and introverted child who flourished best in his own little world, art was something that greatly appealed to me.


What do you find your inspiration for your Artwork?

I loved going outside when I was little and playing with friends but at the same time, I managed to consume a vast quantity of different cartoons. Kid’s cartoons in the 90’s, having been written by the survivors of those who lived through the 1960’s acid wave generation and the Rock n’ Roll era of the 70’s   mostly consisted of some extremely bizarre, and “out there” ideas! So, as a result I grew up addicted to shows like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and Biker Mice from Mars which were ludicrous concepts for young audiences but outrageously cool if you were a five year old boy. Then you had all the insanity of shows like Ren n’ Stimpy, Cow and Chicken, and Courage the Cowardly Dog which just blew a fuse in my young mind and they’ve stayed with me ever since, and in a large way played a major part in my developing psyche right up to today.


How would you describe your style?

My style was developed purely from copying the cartoons I saw. I’ve never had any advanced training in art, apart from at school where I would always venture off of the topic we were learning in art class and create my own work away from the sight of my teachers. I found their teaching methods restrictive and they never represented what I was into or what I wanted to do. My look was just something that came about from a constant love of doodling any old nonsense that came to my mind. Learning harder things like how to draw hands and gripping fingers or shoes, came from copying two very famous comics here in the UK called The Beano, and The Dandy. Away from all the cartoons though I do a lot of different stuff, which is usually extremely abstract and those are pieces where I really like to pour myself into what I’m doing and just let things come naturally as some kind of mass result of every style I have ever developed over the years. My style is me. It’s the end product of someone who has spent their life consuming endless cartoons and comics and been inspired by the artists who created these things to go out and make art of his own, so that is what I have done, and that is what you see.


What do you want people to experience when they see your work?
I know that my artwork attracts a lot of like-minded people who grew up in the 90’s, fans of my work tend to be around my age, 31. I think when they see what I do, it resonates with them in some way. Seeing your favourite cartoon characters as these tired, fat and bloated, cigarette smoking drop-outs, looking fed up and cheated as if they’ve worked out that the world is a scam and a rat race, reflects an image that they hold of themselves back at them for questioning. Because I think my generation very much carries that feeling these days. The dawn of the internet has brought about a new, and often bleak view of the reality that we all live in. I think most people these days are aware of the sheer amount of lies regarding world politics and what really goes on behind the scenes and when you work all that out, as people slowly are, it can really get you down. This is how I feel. I feel cheated and jaded by these new age revelations and others do too and my work, I hope says to people, “I know man… You aren’t alone.” But away from all the doom and gloom, more than anything else I just hope it inspires people to pick up a pen or a pencil or whatever, and just get creative, because to quote a personnel hero of mine…

Terence Mckenna: “The artist's task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. Because of the artists, who are self-selected, for being able to journey into the Other, if the artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.”


How long does it take to create a piece?

To be honest I do such a wide variety of different styles that some pieces can take up to two days usually, whilst others can take less than thirty minutes.


What is your favourite subject matter to use in your work?

Whatever is on my mind at the time, as everything I do is a visual representation of myself in one way or the other. So, if I’m in a good mood then that’s usually when the really silly and psychedelic fun stuff comes out. I’m a big fan of horror films and horror stories, so sometimes its fun to explore my inner dark side and when I do, I try to go all out and create the darkest image I can dream up, but if I’m honest I’ve yet to actually create that. But one day I will.


What is your favourite dinosaur?

As a huge and unashamedly self-confessed movie buff, I would have to say the full-sized animatronic T-Rex from the first Jurassic Park film! That whole scene where the T-Rex smashes that car to pieces with the two kids inside it screaming like crazy, is just hands down one of the best movie scenes ever made.


How has your work evolved from when you first started to now?

I guess I just got better by pushing myself a little more every time. Pushing my skills but also ripping open that creative envelope inside my mind and just letting everything fall out onto the sketch pad or canvas. As I’ve grown and changed my work has grown and changed too, and again, as a visual manifestation of who I am, it will always change and I plan on always keeping a documentation of it untilI no longer can. Beats keeping a diary.



What is your favourite comment you’ve heard about your work, positive or negative?

A friend of mine used to display my work all over his house, and when different people from all backgrounds of life would come in for the first time, they would sit there with their mouths wide open looking around in silence. I really liked that. I made them stop talking for five minutes and think! Then as ever, the usual line would come out, “what goes on inside your head?!”. I already know what goes on inside my head. I want to know what goes on inside theirs and hopefully for five minutes, I kind of altered that.


If you weren’t an artist what job would you have?

I don’t sell enough to live off my work sadly, although I would love to. But at the same time if I suddenly won £500,000 I would most likely give all my work away free to whoever wanted it! Because for me it isn’t about the money whatsoever, it’s about trying to spark the imagination in people. Away from the canvas I mostly work wherever I can which unfortunately in my sleepy little fishing village, is always some dead-end job in a boring old factory.


What does your work say about you?

Everything. Every thought, desire, dream and secret has been imbedded into every piece but ultimately, I want it to say something about, YOU. I want YOU to look at it and hopefully somehow it resonates with you and gets you thinking, and makes you want to grab some art supplies and start getting creative because I’m scared our culture is lacking in creativity! We have to create new cultures. Stop watching TV, stop reading gossip magazines, don't even listen to the News. Express yourself on your OWN stage. No matter where you are right now, NOW is the only place you can ever be, and if you're worrying about Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump or whoever, then you keep on disempowering yourself. You're giving everything you are to icons, false icons which are only there because TV and marketing chose them to be there so that you want to dress like him or have lips like her, then they rake in all the money off of your misery by pretending to offer you the promise of a cure to a disease they invented in the first place! It’s like a never-ending loop. This is a soul-destroying way to view the world! It’s a total diversion from your higher self and what truly matters is you, your friends and family. Your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears. But you get told 'no', you’re not that important, you’re peripheral. 'Make sure you get straight A’s then get a job, get a this, get a that.' And then you're a real player, but you don't want to play that game! You want to snatch your mind back out of the hands of the cultural engineers, who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world! GO, and create something new either internally for yourself, or externally for others because either path will lead you somewhere far greater than this current culture of uninspiring, mass consuming madness that we’re all becoming so much more aware of. Art and creativity is the answer, it really is.


What is your favourite pop culture phenomenon?

Y’know, I’m really not sure. I don’t follow a lot of popular things when it comes to films and music, I’m rather old-school I guess. Music is what does it for me, lots of different music and the more experimental the better. Punk Rock played a huge role in getting me out of my shell as a teenager, so I would say Punk Rock.


When you sleep what are your dreams like?

That’s a big question that I could very easily turn into a book. I dream more or less every night and they are epic in proportion and intensely realistic to the point of actually being able to feel psychical damage. I’m usually with friends, and we are normally in some sort of impossible situation that goes on for so long that on awakening I feel as if I’ve just watched all the Lord of the Rings films back to back in one sitting, although I can only ever remember about 40% of what happened and those feelings will stay with me easily for the next couple of hours.


Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?

Oreos taste like someone spent ages collecting loads of that hard coffee sludge you find in the bottom of a cup that wasn’t stirred properly and hasn’t been washed up for weeks, and squashed it all together into a biscuit which heaven knows why somehow became popular! As for Fudgee-Os?! We don’t get them here in the UK, but a very American food I really do like, is Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches! Oh’ I could die for them. In fact I’m going to go make one just as soon as I’m done typing!
I don’t really do Twitter or Instagram, so if you want to check my work out, come take a look at my Facebook page: The Art of Shaun Talman.

Right. Where’s this sandwich at….


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