To Better Know a Renegade: Shea Proulx

Hello all! It’s that time again. It gives me great privilege to present the words and works of Calgary’s own Shea Proulx. Shea’s graphic novel, Alice at Naptime, is a picture perfect encapsulation of parenting joys and woes. Saying goodbye to your old life is one of the hardest parts of parenting. You miss the nights out with friends, but nothing compares to the beautiful mornings shared with your special little person. Nary a dry eye is left after reading Shea’s book. Her unique style has me very excited to share this look behind the pages in our latest installment of To Better Know a Renegade. Without further to do…

Sean: How did you get started as an artist?

Shea: I always drew as a kid, whenever I wasn’t reading. I carried sketchbooks, diaries and books everywhere. I went to art school straight out of high school but I felt like my second love of literature was a weird obsession until I discovered comics and realized I didn’t have to choose between the two. Becoming a parent – taking the time to prioritize library trips with my small daughters over everything else – helped me find the fulfilling art practice I have today.

Sean: Who are some of your biggest inspirations?

Shea: Matt Groening, Frida Kahlo, Oliver Jeffers, Lynda Barry, Hieronymus Bosh, Shaun Tan, Tacita Dean, Allie Brosh, J.K. Rowling, Bill Watterson, Tina Fey, Lisa Hanawalt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Joe Sacco, to name a few.

Sean: What are some secrets to your creative process?

Shea: I’m fussy about materials, but not about working environments. I always have a project on the go that I can take with me, and if it gets a spot of water from the pool on it, or a kid bumps me at the playground, that’s part of the process too. I make art about, and involved with the world I really live in. All the interruptions are places for reality to leak into the work, and the feeling of being at peace in the midst of chaos persists beyond drawing, into the rest of my life.

Sean: Any upcoming projects you would like to tell our readers about?

Shea: The next big thing for me is ABC Monstrosity, a full-colour kid’s book where illustrations for each letter of the alphabet combine to form an evolving monstrosity. It’s super detailed, coloured by hand with pencil crayon in a way that tells a visual story so textured, adults and children alike find it mesmerizing.

Sean: What are some of your favourite tools of the trade?

Shea: I like 005 micron pens for line work, 02 or 03 for lettering. Moleskine sketchbooks have the perfect slightly transparent pages for the tracing and repetition I like to play with. Podcasts and library-apps really keep me going while I work. Dirty Old Ladies is dope and informative.

Sean: Any advice for up and coming creative types?

Shea: When the water rises, the boats all rise. Be a good fan, especially by showing up in person when something you like is local. Follow your heart, and support people making things that interest you. Your passion will inspire people, and the ripple effects of that can bring greater respect to a whole scene, from which some people might emerge to great success – we don’t know who, fame is fickle. You’ll push yourself harder when those around you know you’re a fellow creative person and ask for updates, holding you accountable to yourself, but that’s just a professional perk. The real benefit of building a strong creative community is happiness, which will cushion you against the inevitable ups and downs of a career in the ever-unpredictable arts. Fame and money don’t bring lasting joy, but friends do. Other people are your best investment in a better quality of life. Find your tribe.

Shea’s debut graphic novel, Alice at Naptime is available on our website or wherever fine books are sold.