Artist Julie Peterson-Shea combines dark subject matter with an odd sense of humor to create compelling pen and ink drawings. See more of her portfolio on her website.
I have been asked one question many times, “Why do you create dark and creepy illustrations when you can create beautiful nature-inspired artwork?”
The short answer is, “It just feels right.”
It is never my intention to choose subject matter that is creepy or horrific. I just see the world through a lens of my interests, experiences, and emotions—not to mention my odd sense of humor.
The question that usually follows, “What is the meaning behind your work?”
As an overthinker, I enjoy symbolism and finding and creating meaning through my artwork. Victorian flowers, religious and secular symbols, and my own personal visual language often allude to the larger concepts, ideas, or messages.
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To me, it is important to create meaning and express ideas and emotions in my work. It is equally important that the viewer can interpret each piece and find their own meaning.
Of course, I am also asked, “Where do you get your ideas?”
Much of my work is introspective and the physical product of my attempts to understand and make friends with my demons. Through my artwork, I have become more aware and accepting of who I am. As a mother and a teacher, it is my hope that I can inspire others to accept themselves and be their authentic true selves.
From a young age, I knew that creating art was just part of who I am, so it was no surprise when I pursued a career through which I could share my drive to create.
I completed a BA in Education in 1992 and an MFA with an emphasis in Drawing in 2002. For the last twenty-six years, I have taught high school, middle school and adult art classes in a small rural Kansas town. In addition to teaching, I have also illustrated several young adult and children’s books and displayed my work in places such as Chicago, Tampa and various locations in the state of Kansas.
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