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Artist You Should Know : Shane Izykowski

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The “Artist You Should Know” series highlights local artists before they exhibit their work somewhere awesome, it’s our way of supporting the creative community and helping to keep San Francisco a strange and wonderful place.  Meet artist Shane Izykowski, and checkout his horror and Halloween themed events at Art Attack this Month.

Shane Izykowski

We couldn’t think of a more appropriate artists to introduce you to this Halloween than the horrifying, the shocking, the disgustingly versatile and talented Shane Izykowski.  We did the math, and figured Shane is a octuple threat, meaning he does painting, sculpture, photography, makeup, costumes, videography, illustration, and probably scares the shit out of small children and animals on the weekends just for fun.  We asked him some questions about his upcoming shows in SF, his artistic vision, and how many chopped up body parts he has in his freezer right now.  Enter at your own risk…

Name: Shane Izykowski

Medium(s): Oil Paintings, Clay Sculptures (molded in Silicone and Cast in Resin), Pen & Ink, Photography/Videography
Do you enjoy scaring people?

YES! I have been costuming for as far back as I can remember. My mom, dad, sister and I helped with haunted houses when I was younger. This instilled such a gratifying feeling when I succeeded in scaring someone. That love turned into a costuming obsession, which now includes stilt-walking, an industrial voice changer, puppets and all kinds of special effects and makeup. My stilts have fiberglass springs, so you can actually run and jump on them! Admittedly, I’ve chased people down the street, adorned in a full clown costume with a silicone clown mask. I haven’t done that recently, for fear of getting shot.

“All Evils” 2016, Acrylic, 24″ x 36″

Do you enjoy being scared? 
It depends what kind of fear we’re talking about. I enjoy getting totally freaked out by great horror films. That feeling will always be nostalgic to me, as I grew up with classic Universal Monsters and B-Movies. I can still recall specific scenes in films over the years that gave me goosebumps and made the hair stand on the back of my neck. The kind of scared I don’t enjoy is real terror. Not to get too much into politics, but the current social climate is terrifying. When you’re watching the country tear itself apart from the inside, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to stop it, being truly afraid is that helpless feeling of watching the news, reading a tweet or seeing a senseless act committed right in front of you. Sorry, that answer took a dark turn, but hey, you asked.

What are you trying to communicate through your art lately?
Lately I’ve been on a personal quest to get people to understand my artwork on a deeper level than just face value. At first glance, a lot of people just shrug my artwork off as too scary or that it’s not necessarily something they’d hang on their wall. My work has always had a tinge of the macabre, and I fully understand that that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I am just amazed that the modern horror genre is so prominent in our culture, but dark art and horror artwork is not more widely accepted as fine art. I’ll be touching a lot upon this subject at my Artist Talk / Opening Reception at Art Attack SF (October 17th6:00-8:00 p.m.).

Photography by Shane iIzkowski

Favorite horror film right now?

I just re-watched Tomas Alfredson’s “Let the Right One In,” and it reaffirmed my complete adoration for this film! I actually watched it again as a point of reference for my gig as a production designer on a short horror film called “Snaggletooth,” by (the production company) End Timey. The strange thing about “Let the Right One In” is that it was remade just two years after, for American audiences, renamed “Let Me In.” The original version is perfect in so many ways, where the newer version completely misses some of the points that make the original a masterful piece of cinema.

What was your last great night out in San Francisco?
My birthday in July was pretty epic. It started with friends at my studio, then moved to Wonderland SF to see the Simply Frida Anniversary Show, which I had an original Frida piece in. Afterwards, we went to the Makeout Room to dance! I’ve met some amazing people in the Bay Area, and they continue to show me a good time!
What was your first job in San Francisco?
I moved here in March of 2015, and landed a job with Merlin Entertainments at the San Francisco Dungeon on Fisherman’s Wharf. I was the Displays Lead, with about thirty to forty actors, and I worked on props, costumes, makeup and sets. My work at The Dungeon got me a promotion onto the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum side of the attraction, owned by the same company. I held the position there, as the Lead Artist, for about a year and a half. I learned a lot, met some amazing people, and came upon the realization that I needed to work toward becoming a full time artist.

Shane with artist Sonia Leticia, Halloween 2016

I’m a sophisticated graduate with a BFA or FUCK art school! 
I would say, in my early years, I was a good student. Later in life, when I discovered things I actually enjoyed doing, my academics started to suffer (along with my attention span). I’ve learned what I know through trial and A LOT of error. It’s always been easier to prove what I know by actually doing it, rather than having down on paper what my qualifications were. I wouldn’t necessarily say “Fuck Art School,” because I know a lot of people get enrichment through it. My main gripe with art school is how expensive it can be, and to start with enormous debt after college is like shooting yourself in the foot and then having to run for miles. I don’t necessarily think all art schools provide all the information you need to be a working, modern artist. Artists nowadays have a completely different set of challenges (and advantages) that artists in the past didn’t. I think art schools need to modernize their “art marketing” classes, teach networking and selling your work as an independent artist and really start identifying the difference between different art fields. I know plenty of people who graduated from art school, and are not working in the art field. They either get discouraged that their “art isn’t good enough” or that they didn’t get the job they wanted. What these schools need to teach more of is how to network based on the exact art field you want to go into. What they seem to skip over is the fact that when you’re a freelance or independent artist, you end up spending half of your time promoting your work through social media, and half your time making art.

“Whisper Down the Alley” 2017, Oil, 20″ x 30″

What does it take to make it as an artist in SF these days?

Well, the first thing to do is commit to being an artist. That means, transitioning from a hobbyist to a person whose sole purpose (personally and professionally) is to create artwork. It is imperative that you view your art practice as a business, rather than “just something I do.” You need to diversify your income, so you don’t rely solely on one thing or another, just in case that one thing does not pan out. The next part of the equation is to find balance. Whether you have children, a full time job doing something completely different, or just like to procrastinate, you have to find the healthy balance that allows you to create and also live your everyday life. I am constantly working to keep that balance. A huge part of what that means is to get out of your creative space and see the world (in this case, this beautiful city) around you. Not knowing what is currently happening in the city or community you live in is such a tragedy. Finding new points of reference for inspiration and refilling your creative tank is a great motivator for getting outside once in a while.
How do you price your art? How the fuck does that work?
This question is always a tricky one. How do we value our art? By time? By square inch? By materials? By popularity? The way I currently price my art is partially by size, and by where I am in my professional art career. I also want to sell artwork, rather than stock pile it. I’d rather have collectors than sit on a pile of my paintings, so I’m willing to sell these paintings at reasonable prices now, and continue making more art to increase the value of my previous artwork. I try not to price on emotion, or how much I like the piece. I often find that what I like is not necessarily what my collector base likes.
Do you feel pressured to make art that people will buy?
Not really, because my perception of “art that people will buy” changes every day. If I got too hung up on what I think people will buy, I know I would find myself sorely disappointed. I concentrate more on what I think people haven’t seen, rather than what they’re used to.

Skull Series” 2017, Oil, 5″ x 7″ Series of Seven

Do you have a bunch of human body parts in your freezer at home?
Yes, but I’m subleasing to them for $1,500 a month.
Have you ever made a piece of art that you hated?
So, I’m one of those artists who ends up despising my art after staring at it for too long. I’d say, I love the piece as I’m finishing it, but constantly looking for flaws in my work makes me feel like none of my pieces are ever truly finished. I have a rule that after I sign it, I can’t touch it ever again. It’s just a way I control that urge to want to fix all of my mistakes. So, the answer to your question- yes, every piece.

Photography by Shane Izykowski

Any SF artists you think are outstanding right now?
Oh, man. Yes, so many! It would definitely be difficult for me to choose just a few. A lot of my peers are artists who I admire. My fellow Artspan members are a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me to raise the bar and create better work.
Favorite Museum right now?
Well, I currently work at the SFO Museum as a Preparator, and that place surprises me all the time. It’s a little known fact that we have over twenty gallery areas throughout the airport. It’s quite an operation there, and we’re actually the only accredited airport museum in the country.
Favorite Gallery right now?
I have a few, but because my upcoming artist spotlight show is at Art Attack SF, I really have to give a shout out to the crew over there. They’ve been allowing me to bring some crazy ideas to life in a gallery setting, which not all galleries would do. Art Attack SF has been open for years, but just moved from North Beach to an amazing space in the Castro (2358 Market St. Ste #1). If you haven’t checked out the space since they’ve moved, I would highly recommend it! Another gallery that has supported me from day 1 is Wonderland SF. I support their shows any chance I get! I’ll actually be showing a piece there during Open Studios for their Hub exhibit!

“Pterror” 2017, Oil, 11″ x14″

Favorite Street art right now?
Since living in the Mission, I pass a certain wheat paste every night on my way home. It’s Swoon’s Ice Queen piece, and I feel unbelievably fortunate to have it so close to where I live. I love that it will degrade over time, and at some point, will cease to exist. But, here I am, witnessing it now. I was also lucky enough to intern with Sirron Norris on his mural “The Disruption” at Norm’s Market. That piece is an absolute beast. His composition and visual storytelling is always so on point!
What’s coming up for you?
The big show I have coming up is two-fold. It’s an artist spotlight solo exhibition titled “Spookshow, Baby!” at Art Attack SF in the Castro. The opening reception is on Tuesday, October 17th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. I’ll be giving an artist talk and shedding some light on why I do the art that I do. The second part is the closing reception on October 28th from 6:00-9:00 p.m. I’ll be co-hosting with Art Attack SF for their official Halloween Party, complete with a photo booth to document your costumes, a contortion act by the tantalizing Eve Exothermal and a costume contest with prizes up for grabs! The show will only be up from the 17th to the 28th, but that means you can drop by during their business hours to see it in person. They will be releasing an online preview on Friday the 13th at! I also have my Artspan Open Studios at The Journal Building (1540 Market Street) on November 4th and 5th 11:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. both days! Come see what I’ve been working on!


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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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