Local weekly paper covering regional news and events gets an interview with artist Shana LaBranche . by Tara Collins AKA Twisted T

Shana LaBranche

I met Shana at a recent art opening at Over The Moon Art Studios where she and I had art on display.  As soon as I laid eyes on Shana and I saw her bright, friendly smile she drew me in.  She is one of those special humans who lights up a room with her energy and beautiful smile.  Shana is a Floridian who moved to Asbury Park ten years ago.  Listening to the story of how she came to Asbury Park was a series of events that sounds like divine intervention.

Tell me about your art background? Art School or Self-Taught? 

I come from a very big, creative family, I am one of eight children (#5 in the lineup) and out of my eight siblings, five of us have some type of artistic or creative ability.  My older brother, Hanson, who basically taught me everything I know was an artist, he passed away in 2012 at the age of 25 due to liver failure.

Most of what I know is self-taught except when I was younger I attended BAK Middle School of the Arts, for kids who had artistic capabilities.  I had to audition to get in, but that school was the foundation.  I explored sketching, printmaking, mobiles, clay art, different styles of art like the grid method, stippling, hatching and the list goes on.  We were encouraged to create and to carry a sketchbook with us at all times.  We were also critiqued by our teachers and peers.  I learned that art isn’t just one way or expressed the same and I thrived there.  I was encouraged to continue to the high school, but this was around the same time my brother was diagnosed with liver failure, I missed the chance to audition, but didn’t even care at that point.

What is your process with your art 

I usually start off with a sketch and an idea in my head of how I want the outcome to be, but I embrace mistakes.  Sometimes I’m painting and I do something that wasn’t in my head but it looks good so I keep it and use that “mistake” throughout the painting or take it with me in other paintings.

How did the quarantine/Covid-19 affect you as an artist? 

It actually inspired me.  Once we were all ordered to stay home all I had was my art and time.  It all started with my “Social Distancing” piece.  I painted the first of three paintings and I posted it on my Instagram story, which is only available for 24 hours.  I got so many compliments and comments from people saying they can relate to what I painted.  It inspired me how everyone could relate to how we were separate, yet connected.  That started my “Self Care Series”.  Covid affected my art in a positive way.   It gave me the momentum I needed.  Prior to Covid, I was so consumed with work and life and suddenly I was able to stop and create.

Tell me more about the “Self Care” series.  (These are the pieces on exhibit at Over The Moon Art Studios)

I was inspired by a digital artist (@morysetta) who created a digital picture of a girl on the moon that I saw on Instagram.  I decided to paint my version of a girl with a fro, homegirl in a bubble bath with a glass of wine in outer space, but also kept it “dark” because it was such a dark time.  I reached out to Morysetta to tell her she had inspired me and asked if it was ok to post my painting.  She wanted to see it and then she said, “Yeah, go ahead!”  People really liked it, so I continued on making more of them.

*How do you think the community can better support their artists?

More help with the business end of being an artist, as well as, opportunities to network with other artists, where we can share ideas.

*What would you like to see happen in the Monmouth County art community?

Artist to Artist Mentorships.  Having an established, professional artist mentor me so that someday when I am more established, I can “Pay it Forward” and mentor an up and coming artist who needs help.

You can view Shana’s work in-person at Over The Moon Art Studios at 808 Springwood Avenue in Asbury Park or visit her website:
Instagram: @shana_thee_creative  Tiktok: shana_thee_creative  Facebook: shana_thee_creative

Shana LaBranche