Shelly Penko is an artist, with the urge to make the world more beautiful by creating colorful art, designing textiles or by teaching others. Her approach to art is to get involved and to be in the moment – only then does she create the best art she possibly can. Shelly also graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in fine art and a teaching certificate, which enabled her to teach art for the next 16 years. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Shelly Penko.
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1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?
I would describe my design style as an eclectic mix of sophisticated whimsy. I like unexpected color combinations and elements of the natural world alongside traditional and ethnic design elements.
2) When starting a new project, what is your creative process?
My creative process varies from project to project. I sometimes like to begin with a color palette from a scene that inspires me, a beautiful bouquet or a moody photograph.
3) Out of the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?
Lynn James, owner of Kelly’s Kids children’s clothing is the person I admire most. She started the business 30 years ago, turning her spare bathroom into a sewing room and grew it into two thriving companies, Kelly’s Kids and Eleanor Rose, creating uniquely beautiful clothing with original designs. She inspires me daily with her work ethic, her kindness, her creativity, and her personal aesthetic.
4) When looking for inspiration is there a particular thing you do to get inspired?
Browsing Pinterest is one of my favorite ways to get inspired. I love looking at pictures of birds, flowers, colors…just the entire activity of immersing myself in beautiful photos of whatever is catching my fancy gets my mojo going.
5) What has brought you to this point in your career? And what is your advice for people looking to follow in your footsteps?
Talking to other artists on social media was very inspiring to me and led me down some surprising paths. I befriended some surface pattern designers, discovered Adobe Illustrator, and was hooked! I spent the next year feverishly learning everything I could and built a website to showcase my growing portfolio. Learn as much as you can, talk to other artists and don’t be afraid to put your work out there!