Questions & Artists (Q&A) is our new weekly interview series spotlighting some of our favourite artists from our creative community. The concept is simple, each artist selects 5 questions at random to answer.
Definitely one of our favourite artists we have teamed up with in 2022 is the super talented Shai Digital
A West London based digital artist whose artwork is built around her passion for story telling. She specialises in portraiture but overall each of her pieces vibrantly embodies different aspects and perspectives of black culture and shared experiences, often dusted with fantasy and celestial components.
Her motivation for painting is trying to create the type of artwork she dreamed of seeing growing up as she rarely ever saw any art / artists that looked like her. This is also the driving force behind her mission to always provide affordable prints for those who see themselves represented in her work, so that they are able to have art that speaks to them in the comfort of their homes.
How do you deal with burnout and creative block?
I don’t. Burnout is your body’s way of telling you to take a minute and I think it’s so important to embrace that silence and let it pass naturally, or else you risk falling straight back into it when you try to create again. As artists we put this immense pressure on ourselves to constantly be making art all the time but thats not a sustainable reality. Rest and recovery is key, and personally I like to spend that down time doing absolutely nothing. at. all. ☺️
In terms of creative block - outside of visiting exhibitions and attending art events - I try to do non-creative things to help stimulate my mind in other ways. I find that I’m often inspired in the most unexpected places or by everyday things so I regularly keep notes and make mood boards whenever I can. That way I’ve got an easily accessible compilation of ideas and starting points to refer back to whenever I’m stuck.
If your creative work were music, what would it sound like? (get descriptive)
It’s definitely some kind of multi-genre DJ set. Starts with neo-soul for the depiction of black beauty and black joy, transitions into afrobeats and amapiano for the African and fantasy elements and ends the night on old school r’n’b for the nostalgia factor.
What impact do you think social media has had on your work?
Like most, I have a love hate relationship with social media. At the beginning of my career it was a really crucial way of getting my work out to the world, establishing my online presence and follow the journeys of other creatives. But in all honesty, it got to a stage where I was so reliant on the likes and trying to figure out what people would want to see next that I forgot the reason why I do what I do. I fell out of love with it for a while and that actually begun to reflect within my art work, it felt inauthentic.
Since then, I’ve made a conscious decision to use social media the way it was intended, as a way to network, document and share my creations and also get inspired rather than it being a source of validation. Doing that has taken away the social pressure and allowed me to experiment and create freely again.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand it’s power and how essential it is for marketing but it’s important not to succumb to making content over making art and always ensure I’m making the type of artwork that I want to, not what the internet wants to see.
What is your creative goal and how attainable do you think it is?
I would love to exhibit my work more often and on a larger scale but my main focus is definitely getting into my curator bag. I hope to put on my first exhibition showcasing other amazing artists and figure out ways to use the spaces provided to create unique experiences for the audience.
In terms of my personal artwork I’m really enjoying exploring 3D sculpting and traditional murals on a deeper level, if I can fuse those skills into my digital art practice that would be incredible. - I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a goal but it would also be nice to collaborate on some pieces with other artists as I just don’t think this happens enough within the community.
My long term goals as a creative is to build a community/platform where I can educate and provide tools for youth & minority communities to explore digital art and provide local studio spaces for those who may not have access to them.
As someone whose not afraid to try and fail I believe that my goals are fully attainable. 5 years ago I could never have imagined I’d be where I am today so I know that I really can achieve anything I put my soul into. I’m very realistic about the fact that things may not happen as quickly or easily as I want them to but the passion and genuine enjoyment I get from being an artist overrides all of that.
How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist?
That’s a great question, if anyone has the answer figured out please share the secret! 😂
The most useful thing I’ve done is set a dedicated time and space to create. I have always been a night owl so during the week I give myself a few hours in the day for business and leave the majority at night for painting. That allows me to still live my best life on the weekend if I want to, and if not, I’ve got another two days to work on my pieces (or chill & do a Harry Potter marathon).
I am someone that needs routine so I’ve made a schedule solid enough for consistent productivity but flexible enough that it doesn’t ever feel robotic. Unless I’m working to a deadline I’m not harsh on myself because life really be life-ing sometimes and if I miss a few days… that’s okay! I’ll pick it up again next week when I’m good.