Shane Pierce: Artistic Oracle

On July 27, 2015 by Evan Senn

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Like many of us, artist Shane Pierce has spent years working a plethora of jobs, tirelessly committing to a number of different lives in one lifetime, constantly pushing forward—on to the next great thing; living fully, in every way this giant world has to offer him. Over the years, Pierce has found a way to use his inherent gift for creating art to pave his own path through his lifelong journey in this world. Bound by nothing but his own expression, Pierce has found professional recognition in illustration, concept design, animation and digital work, but his soul speaks in oil paint.

Traveling all over the United States, carrying with him his own personal baggage of memories and experiences, he paints a different world into existence. Dark and ominous creatures, emotional weight, honesty and experience ring loudly throughout his paintings. Dark traveling characters bombard his imagination and his artwork, angels and grim reapers haunt his creations in subtle ways, while the rough and raw American landscape keep his nomads company on their seemingly lonesome and aimless journeys.
Constantly driven to create something, his artwork is as unique and haunting as he is. A storyteller at his core, his creations are hypnotic, drawing the viewer in and plaguing them with interest and intrigue. A cloaked man, with determination and fury across his brow, often paired with a suitcase and a pipe, ventures to the dark and unknown places of his imagination. Constantly followed by the shadows, Pierce’s nomads travel with fervor, unafraid of what lies ahead, or behind them.
“The over-20-years I’ve been working as an artist has been very ‘nomadic’ for me,” he explains. “From graphic design to architectural illustrator to animator to concept art for video games and so on . . . all the while, oil painting has been my passion.”
Finding inspiration in artistic expression Pierce was attracted to art from the very beginning, collecting covers from the Saturday Evening Post and exploring art books as a young child, he was fascinated by the realism artists could achieve and the narratives they could create. His grandfather was a talented painted and inspired Pierce to explore the medium early on. “When I was a kid, the first art that gave me any inspiration was a book,” he says. “The art book was a small collection of sketches by [Frank] Frazetta; and then seeing my grandfather’s Saturday Evening Posts—those amazing illustrations on the covers.”
This early exposure to art books fueled a passion within Pierce, a love of physical objects, a tangible form for artistic expression—something that would later inspire him to create his own art book, entitled NOMADS. This book of drifter-centered artwork has been brewing in his riverside North Carolina studio for years. “These ‘nomads’ will always be with me;” he says. “I am sure I will paint other subjects in the future, but I will probably always paint these on and off.”
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Working so often with digital design and computer-based art, Pierce finds solace in making physical marks with oil paints and brushes. Making a mark is important to him, feeding his soul and heart with creative energy and tangible results. His keen eye for detail and creative narratives help Pierce generate breathtaking compositions that teeter between life and death, fantasy and reality, art and life. The balance in his work is reminiscent of a graphic novel, illustrative and fantastical, but painted in photorealistic techniques, aiding to blend the dream-like and waking-world realities.
“I started sketching this traveler at first; and it just stuck with me. I kept sketching it, everyday, for years,” he says. “Eventually, I decided to really push myself and create some bigger works—ones that really meant something to me. I left everything ambiguous with these paintings—even to me.  So that a narrative could start to kind of tell me where they were going.”
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Without corporate backing, Pierce has again, set out on his own, to create his reality through his book, NOMADS. A collection of character-based paintings with dark occult undertones, Pierce’s unlikely heroes are placed in haunting settings, primed for action and adventure. The NOMADS book is currently being funded via a kickstarter campaign, and will be a 7×7″ hardcover book, published in a limited run. With just two weeks left on his kickstarter campaign,NOMADS has nearly reached its goal.
Pierce sees himself in his travellers, finding his own peace in creating them and recognizing himself. But, it is easy to see a bit of all of us in them. Lone survivors against the world, persevering through struggle and adversity, no matter the circumstance, battling with inner demons, and constantly being tested; death around every corner, evil lurking in the shadows, waiting for us . . . His nomads are embellished personifications of the human experience in our contemporary world. Pierce’s power with his nomadic paintings lies somewhere between the specific presence of his evocative imagery, characters and compositions and the absence of a concrete narrative structure, giving us, the viewers, the chance to make it our own story, to find ourselves within them.
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Secondary musing, related to Beautiful.Bizarre’s published piece: https://beautifulbizarre.net/2015/07/28/shane-pierce-carving-his-own-path-with-nomads/ (also by Evan Senn)

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