Today we’d like to introduce you to Neil Shigley.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have focused my work on doing large-scale portraits of the people living in the streets near my studio in downtown San Diego. We are bombarded in this country with images of the rich and the famous, the privileged, the ‘have’s’. I am focusing on people from the other end of the economic spectrum, the underprivileged, the have not’s, the homeless. Giving them some face time.
I was initially drawn to the incredible character that these people possess. A character that is hard-earned, though sometimes many years of life on the streets and the daily struggle for survival that that can bring. Nobility, beauty, strength, vulnerability, they are all there if we only look. The more portraits I did, the more I became intrigued by these people and their lives. Chronic homelessness is a complex issue, one that I don’t pretend to have any answers for. By presenting them as often as I can, perhaps someone will see these portraits and will have some solutions.
If there was anything I could do to make the lives of any of these people better, it would be to help the children of the homeless. They do not have a choice. They are there because of the situation their parents are in. By helping to nourish, educate, encourage, instill self-confidence, we can help these children reach their full potential as human beings and productive members of society. Or at least put them in a position to make their own choices about how they want to live.
I have titled this series “Invisible People”. Many people who encounter people living on the street, avoid them, ignore them, treat them as if they are not there. Actively making them invisible. By presenting these portraits in this large scale, it makes people confront them and their situation. Making them visible again.
I think that most people when looking at a homeless person, they look for the things that are different from the way they are. When doing this it is easy to ignore them, neglect them, forget them. But when we see someone and look for the things that make us alike, and there are so many things; if we search for those things, if we embrace those things, then it opens the door for peace, and it opens the door for love.
Art has the potential to focus attention, in this case on the homeless. By focusing attention it raises awareness. And with awareness, change, on a grand scale or a small scale can happen, even if it is simply one person treating another with respect.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
You would think that approaching someone and asking them if I could do their portrait would be easy. But it is the most difficult part of the process. I approach people with a great deal of humility and respect. Even if a person does not have a home they still have a space that is theirs. Entering that space is very personal. Creating these large-scale prints requires effort at every stage. These images a hand-carved into a large plate of plexiglass. Then hand printed.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Neil Shigley – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Along with doing these large-scale portraits of people living on the streets I am actively engaged in a number of other art-related activities. Drawing, painting., sculpture, Large-scale public art installations ranging from figurative to abstract, Pop culture portraits, Commercial art illustration. And I am a professor of Art at San Diego State University.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m living the dream, my dream. I see myself focusing my attention on my family and creating art for years to come.
- Website: neilshigley.com
- Phone: 619-203-6557
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Neil Shigley
- Facebook: Neil Shigley Artist