Digital artist Shaylin Wallace is an artist who knows how to push the limits of reality. For example, she recently exhibited her art at a virtual reality dance club in the blockchain metaverse. Giant canvases of her alluring, other-worldly artwork glowed against the Somnium Space night sky, beckoning to the clubbers dancing alongside them.
Shaylin, also known as “Shay The Surrealist”, is a world-recognized surrealist artist self-taught in Adobe Photoshop. She takes ordinary photos and transforms them into creations akin to magical portals leading to higher-dimensional perspectives. At 22 years old, she is a powerful pioneer in the NFT art market. She has exhibited her work internationally, earned a B.F.A. in graphic design from Salisbury University, and done commissions for some of the most popular brands in entertainment. After speaking with Shaylin and having the privilege to enjoy her art “in-person” virtually, it’s clear that she has an even brighter future ahead.
An Interview with Shaylin Wallace
Oly: I see you have done a lot of major collaborations with companies like Netflix, Adobe, the Oscars, Random House, The Walking Dead, Warner Bros… the list goes on! These are incredible accomplishments, and no surprise with how skillful of an artist you are. Can you tell me more about these experiences, which collaboration was your favorite, and why?
Shaylin: All of these projects were so unique and different, but what they all had in common was that Iwas making artwork! I love working with companies/brands because they are very professional like me and match my energy. My favorite has to be the Adobe partnerships because they always challenge me to think beyond my own ideas and I love a good creative challenge!
Oly: Your experience with different art modalities is extensive- you are quite a polymath. Your commissions include photo manipulation, graphic design, album art, animation, NFTs, interior design and even tv series art for The Queen’s Gambit. When did you start making art, and how did you master all these modalities so early in life? Have you always been so creative?
Shaylin: So I have always been into art since I was a kid. I would draw, paint, write poetry and even take photos. It wasn’t until 2014 when I started experimenting with photo-manipulation on my phone using the app called PicsArt. I would experiment with editing my own images and soon started manipulating free stock photos. Soon, it became a hobby and then that hobby turned into a passion of mine.
In 2017, I saved up all of my money to purchase my first laptop, a Macbook Pro and also a subscription to Adobe so that I could use Photoshop. Ever since, I’ve been turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, bringing my creative visions to life.
In high school, I signed up for a Graphic Design class where I learned Adobe Illustrator and even Photoshop and it made me have a deep love for graphic design. With graphic design, I realized I could still incorporate photo-manipulation, so I knew once it was time for me to pick a major for college, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Fast forward to now, I’m a college graduate, BFA in Graphic Design and a full-time artist. From making cover art to animations to NFTs, I just brought all of my passions together and continued to experiment and make art for myself and others.
Oly: You work a lot with surrealism. I was very impressed with your recent piece, “Deliberate Divergence”. What inspired this and other pieces? Who/what are your artistic influences? What inspires you?
Shaylin: The technique I used for Deliberate Divergence is my dispersion technique which makes it look as if a person or object is exploding into a million pieces.
Most of my ideas stem from visions I have in my head while looking at stock photos. Many of the techniques I use, I have been using since I started photo-manipulation and I just love to create things that no one has even seen before.
I first fell in love with surrealism freshman year of high school when I saw Salvador Dali’s work. I loved how weird and surreal his paintings were and it opened my eyes to a whole other world of creativity. A lot of things inspire me, but my artworks usually represent different meanings of growth, freedom, inner beauty, and deep emotions I don’t know how to express with words.
Oly: Do you make art during your leisure time? What are some of your hobbies?
Shaylin: Yes, I make art during my leisure time! It’s my favorite pastime activity. Some other hobbies/passions I have are photography, making beats, designing designs for my clothing brand, drawing, animation, taking videos, and even listening to music.
Oly: Can you tell me more about the Creative Mafia project? I love the mission statement: “Support creatives, locally and internationally. We are all here to showcase our creative gifts to the world.” How does this message resonate with you? Is there any advice you can share with other artists?
Shaylin: Creative Mafia is my clothing brand that I dropped on November 11th, 2020 (11/11/20). I had the idea for starting my own brand in 2019 and kind of psyched myself out since I started overthinking the whole thing. Then, in 2020, I kept sketching and brainstorming designs for fun for t-shirts and knew I had to just do it.
My mission statement resonates with me because as creative, all I ever wanted was to show the world what I love to do, which was making art in photoshop. Receiving support and recognition was something I slowly and steadily received over time and it did feel great to receive recognition for my talents.
A piece of advice I have for other artists is to always create for yourself. I know many artists tend to get caught up and start making things they think will get a lot of likes or views. But I believe if you stay true to yourself and to continue to perfect your craft, the right people will notice your work and will support you.
Oly: I see a lot of love and passion in your work. How would you describe yourself as a person? Do you feel like your art is an extension of who you are and do you use art as a tool of expression?
Shaylin: As a person, I am very loving and passionate. To describe myself is a bit tricky, but I’d say that I am very determined, self-driven, have a nice sense of humor and am always looking to spread love and positivity to anyone I vibe with.
My art is definitely an extension of myself. Over these past few years, I have noticed that when I’m feeling certain emotions or am going through different changes and transitions in my life, I subconsciously show it in my artwork. I do use my artwork as a way to express myself and that’s why it means so much to me when it comes to sharing my work to the public. I’m being vulnerable and sharing a part(s) of myself that I used to hide for so long, but now I’m owning it.
Oly: This is a tough question, but if you could tell the world, the art world in particular, one thing, what would it be?
Shaylin: If I could tell the world one thing, I would say that only your own opinion/the way you perceive yourself matters.
Oly: What are some future projects that you’re excited about? What would you like your career to look like in 5 years?
Shaylin: I am very excited for more partnerships and collabs with brands/companies! Since working with Adobe, Netflix, Warner Bros, etc. I know that the possibilities for me to work with brands like Nike or companies like Apple are coming soon! I do have 3 partnerships currently and they’re dropping soon, so be on the lookout!
My career 5 years from now is going to be all of my dreams and manifestations coming into fruition. I’ll still be a full-time artist, but I know that I’ll also be an art curator and art collector and even own my own art gallery. I hope to help other artists become more visible and to get their work seen by people from all over the world. I’ll be a travelling artist with multiple exhibitions across the globe as well. There are so many things that I’m going to do and I am making history as we speak. Everyone will know who Shay The Surrealist is, mark my words.