Meet Laura

Meet Laura

Queenstown based illustrator and author Laura Shallcrass. Laura creates artwork for publishing, packaging and editorial using gouache, oil graphite and digital media. 
Get to know our friend Laura Shallcrass
Queenstown based illustrator and author Laura Shallcrass. Laura creates artwork for publishing, packaging and editorial using gouache, oil graphite and digital media. Creating both words and imagery gives Laura’s work a unique ambience, with each talent complementing the other. Thematically her work spans mental health, environmental preservation and female power.
What is your artist background?
I trained as an illustrator and have been working commercially in that field for the last decade. I also write and illustrate children's books and hold the occasional art exhibition when I'm invited to do so.

What city in New Zealand do you live?
I live outside of Queenstown in a little wine growing valley called Gibbston. This is the first time I've properly lived in the country, I grew up in Wellington and lived in a few cities around the world before moving to Queenstown and then to Gibbston in 2020.

Have you lived in any other city in New Zealand, if so which cities?
Only Wellington. Unless you count 5 months spent in Auckland. I didn't last long in the big smoke!

When did you start doing your art?
I've always drawn and when it came time to choose what to study at university I knew I wanted to choose a creative field. Once at uni it turned out I was fairly inept at computer graphics and the only other subject available in the same time slot was illustration so here we are!

When did you start your entrepreneur journey?
When I had my first son I started painting in his sleep times which turned into a few exhibitions, and selling prints and eventually into commercial illustration, Children's publishing and fine art exhibitions. 

How do you describe your artwork style?
I'm very detail focused and I prefer to have quiet backgrounds so that the details can shine. I'm also into organic line and pattern all of those things tend to combine into a kind of quiet/loud composition. Lots happening but with quiet spaces in between.

Have you always done your field of art or was there other types of art that you have done? If so, what types?
I've done most of the creative pursuits. From illustration to fine art and even some graphic design thrown in for good measure. Being a creative in a small town in a small country has required that I be flexible in my definition of what I do, to the point where I still have quite a few different answers when people ask me that question. As I've developed though I finally feel confident saying I am an author/illustrator, and am cutting back on any of the other work as time goes on.

What is the best/ideal environment for you when creating your artwork? 
Inside in my studio or at the kitchen bench. I have an amazing view out to the mountains and down to the fields and vines which is always changing and inspiring me. I tend to be an audiobook or podcast person rather than music unless I really have to concentrate in which case it's usually some kind of mellow folky type jam.

Who is your hero? And why?
I have so many. I love the work of Coralie Bickford-Smith and Jon Klassen although very different to me in style their tone is spot on. And I love Laura Burger and Katie Scott for style. 

What values are important to you?
I'm a pretty staunch lefty/feminist as anyone who knows me will tell you so I guess my core values tend to be things like looking after one another and preservation of the environment. Not groundbreaking for an artist by any means!

Any advice for aspiring NZ artists?
I always feel manifestly unqualified to answer questions like this but I can tell you that the projects which I have enjoyed the most are the ones where I'm not worrying about the end result, I'm just creating what feels good and true to me in the moment. 
NZ Jigsaw Puzzle in the making, Flower puzzle, beautiful floral jigsaw

What was the inspo behind your artwork for your PieceHouse puzzle?
I actually built the reference image for my puzzle so it's got a bunch of pottery and plants from my collection. I love drawing plants and flowers but also all the bugs and bits which go along with them in real life so there's lots of those thrown in there too.
Laura was the amazing artist who created the Flourish puzzle, check out her puzzle here
Laura Shallcrass, jigsaw puzzle illustrator, NZ artist, behind the scenes, flower art on ipad.

What do you do to help keep your mental health in a positive place?
I'm lucky enough to live on the doorstep of lots of amazing hikes and places to ride. So I like to get out into nature, especially with my horse, it works the same way as meditation for me. Re-centering and creating a sense of balance. 

Is there a song that you would love to be on the playlist that goes with your puzzle?
I was listening to a lot of Valerie June while I drew complex bits of this one so it would have to be one of the songs off her new(ish) album Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers.
New Zealand illustrator Laura Shallcrass, flower and pattern illustrations.
Some amazing other work by Laura Shallcrass. Follow Laura Shallcrass here