I know a Harbour Master who is finally going into retirement and his amazing wife decided to commemorate his life in a commissioned Find-A-Thing illustration. We spent a bunch of emails back n forth to get all the images and pieces for this design together.
The ship in the image was the one he served on in the RFA, then there are childhood cars, guns, toys, and moving into his adult life, hobbies, interests, inside jokes, and all sorts of personal themes.
He had no idea about any of this and when he surprised the gathering at his surprise retirement dinner his wife surprised him with this gift.
He had a blast showing off all the little nuggets to everyone and sharing stories in depth.
His wife “ David was so surprised by his retirement gift and very touched. He had a ball finding all the things and explaining them to everyone, so his retirement dinner turned into a full on 'This is Your Life' with lots of stories and laughter, which was just perfect...”
When the dust settled and David said this about it “It's a great piece of work, I am
Really pleased with it and nostalgic for so many of the references. Thanks a lot. I feel a bit stupid because she was asking me so many questions about my past - first bike, Winchester, cars etc. the whole thing on the Fort Grange was inspirational.”
The crew over at Lenovo called me in to work on some live art over 3 months across Sydney Westfield events.
I set up at their activation kiosk and projected from the nifty little device to show off how it worked as an illustration device.
I had to create 3 images in 3 hours at a frantic pace in front of a crowd, these are the results of those mad dashes with people watching over my shoulder.
If you’re curious about the device in question, it’s the Lenovo Yogabook
I was contacted to create a surprise 18th gift for someone’s son. We came up with a few ideas for the layout and then the dad supplied me with a list of all the things his son loved and we put this collage together. It’s a portrait of his loves at the time of the painting. He will always have this piece to look back on to remember a time his parents went out of their way to create something special for him.
“This could become a family tradition” Chris.
It’s an honour to get to work on these pieces for people, I love getting to know someone through the things they love.
If you have someone you love who you want to show you care for please contact me.
A gift commission for a good friend’s wedding.
His mates gathered together for an unforgettable bucks night and we created this piece of custom art for him.
The groom, Dhani
“I was instantly lost in this piece as soon as the boys surprised me with the finished product. I love that there is a bunch of treasured memories hiding within the framework of the horse, and it's great that only the people who were there will truly appreciate what every little detail means. There are so many stories wrapped into it, and visually I think it's breathtaking. I cannot thank Sam enough for what he did, he has an incredible and very unique talent. My wife and I will proudly be displaying this in our house for many years to come!”
Dev, “like the Bux itself, anything was possible in that piece. It brought everything together, both ourselves, and the universe beyond.”
Andrew, “ I feel it encapsulates even the most subtle, personal and finite details that bring together a circle of friends’”
Peter, “This image, although creating a lasting memory of a magnificent 24 hours, adds to the feeling of a personal "intimate inclusion" in the whole wonderful event.”
Leo, “It takes you on a little journey inside this world it creates. It draws you into its many layers that don't seem to end. It makes you want to be there and experience it all”
Satchi, “ It really drew me in with its attention to detail and was an excellent tribute to an unforgettable day”
Niall, “This beautiful and intricate piece has a way to instantly bring me back to the night and relive all of the great individual moments that made it up”
Todd, “Having the ability to jump right back in to a collection of quality moments portrayed so vividly is nothing short of a superpower. Sam is kind enough to share this astounding ability with a bunch of dudes who's memories had surely vanished after a wild weekend. Thanks Sam, I'll be lost in this work forever”
This album cover was created to illustrate the candy store elements within the lyrics of Australian hip hop artist Angus Hawkey. I collaborated with Ben Marriott to add his special textured colour magic into this intricate storefront.
Live Art is always such a fun time.
I was commissioned to be a part of a Stockland retailers event by The Event Room to create bespoke artworks for the guests on the night.
Using an iPad and Macbook with Astropad projected onto some large screens I listened to the guests and found out a little about them then set into creating a mandala for them before their eyes.
These are always so difficult to create a healthy balance within the artwork so doing it live was a challenge for sure.
Trying to eat a vindaloo curry on acid would feel a little like this. The steam above your head, the little demon wizard conjuring tentacles and horns while your lips burst with rays of heat.
Vindalucy is trying to capture that mindblowing, tastebud burning sensation.
I was travelling through North America over 6 months and during that time I was blown away by the patterns and art style of the native tribes there. Seeing the art of the first people was really inspiring. The line weights and content of the spirit world was a truly eye opening experience for me. So when I returned to Australia I set out to create a mask that honoured those styles and add in my own psychedelic flair.
The result was an animal mask that had a sort of meditative experience built in.
During creating it when I stepped back and stared at the details my mind got caught in it like a trap. Staring at the centre the intricate details sort of absorbed my focus.
It's now on display at the Work-Shop Makery in Sydney.
An Alex Grey inspired art print I created while staying in Colorado in early 2016. I began without an idea, just a pen and some old Allan Watts lectures playing in the background.
The process of drawing this started from between the eyes of the dancer without an end destination in mind ended up with the girl reaching out and touching herself through the space between them.
It was a free-flowing explosion of ideas and experimental shapes, forms and structures.
I have some signed and emboseed large Giclee prints available in my shop.
This was a really fun project to work on! I got to go wild with creating a playful kids imagination dreamscape. This was exactly the kind of immersive and detailed artwork I loved to get lost in as kid.
“ One of my best investments so far has been this work of art by #samshennan. So detailed and perfectly executed - it started with a small idea of mine, and Sam completely made it into a fantasy world in this picture. The kid keeps finding new details. Thank you so much, we're so thankful 👐 "
Ganesh is a spiritual guide on the Hindu tradition. I was commissioned to create this brightly coloured painting for a customers entranceway. The colours used were designed to vibrate against each other to create the otherworldly zesty appearance of a god. It is impossible to show here but with the red/blue 3d glasses this piece really shows off.
I had a lot of fun working on this custom cheetah tattoo and trying to capture the power and jungle vibe of the animal. I'm looking forward to seeing the final artwork inked up.
This was a solid amount of time and enjoyment that I pulled together for this private commission. I was tasked to craft a dreamlike compilation of oceanic and urban themes.
I took the lifestyle of my collaborator and combined elements from their life into the artwork to be a time capsule of their life so far.
The ingredients of this piece encourages you to dive deeper into different parts each time you see it. Like an ocean voyage, you never know what you'll discover each time you look into it.
I was commissioned to design this graphic for a client to be a motivational poster. The worn out looking werewolf was a reminder to the audience to keep themselves in the game and continue with their goals. I made use of the midnight blue to contrast the light sources.
If you're after a little motivation or a nudge to stay at it, I've made these available for sale in my shop.
A fruity poster design I was commissioned to paint. I created a strange but engaging bright vibrant way to light up a room.
I've made up some limited Giclee art prints available over in the shop.
I wanted to create a poster that encouraged people to get out there and take charge of their lives while keeping a simple motto in mind. Go Make Some Stories encourages you to leave your comfort zone to come out the other side with a great tale.
I've printed these as a nice little desk or office sized decoration, available now over in my shop.
I recently went to the Denver Art Museum to see an exhibition on samurai. When I learned that a large number of them were Buddhists I tried to show that aggressive, yet peaceful mindset visually through my psychedelic surrealism.
I wanted to make something fun for my mates involved in the Wax Lab event held in Sydney. They regularly meet to exchange records, play vinyl with each other and talk shop. The vibe is always so friendly and playful so I wanted to make a poster that engaged with that summer vibe.
The Spiderfan has a history, but is it a pleasant or dark past?
I was asked to be part of the Exhibition Supervene for Sydney's dynamic printer Steve from Arcade Printing in Newtown. Our task was to create a superhero print that twisted the traditional iconography of the heroes or villains we chose. I plucked Spiderman out of my memories.
I always had a good time with Spiderman and his battles as a kid.
My first screen printed poster! Hand printed locally at Arcade Screen Printing in Sydney. The three colour print was designed for the Rock Screen Print Poster Exhibition. I thought what was the strangest place to wake up after a rocking night out? Available for purchase as a Limited Edition Print over in my shop.
I sat in my urban art studio and sipped on a warm morning coffee the other day and wished I had a more dense, lush green workspace to relax in. I fawned over the idea of hearing tropical birds singing in the morning mist.
So I decided to make myself a poster for my wall which would give me the sense of natural, immersive greenery for my studio space.
If you want to add this splash of colour to your space at home or work, art prints are available to purchase over in my shop.
These friendly penguins were a commissioned artwork I was tasked with for an anniversary gift. We figured out all the unique items from the big day and the trip they took for their honeymoon too.
I had a great time drawing in all the beachy summer holiday objects and things.
An artwork created for the Insight exhibition held at Work-Shop in Sydney for their Bad Pizza launch.
Available by the slice of paper over in my shop.
I had a great time stashing away all the objects and items for this commissioned Find-A-Thing. Seeing how all the little pieces come together is a real treat, in the process of creating them I get a sense of the person that they are being made for.
It is a very personal process, like crafting a mood board of a person's interests.
I was commissioned to draw a phoenix and I took the opportunity to try out hand colouring the work without the crutch of Photoshop.
An illustrated poster I designed for the greyhound races in Sydney
I drew these masks as a series for my solo exhibition in 2013 held at Blacklisted Gallery in Sydney. They were a representation of an organic process. I started with drawing the animal in the forehead and then let the ideas of the animals guide the actual form.
I had a great time playing with the composition for this commissioned piece. It's such an exciting process to put together all the items and objects listed in the brief.
During a Two-hour live art battle, this happened. A live event run by El Camino Events, in Sydney's Newtown Hotel. I painted this owl to reflect the night owl punters at the bar during the event.
There is a large volume of plastic debris which is spiraled into one enormous area in the Pacific ocean by ocean currents. I wanted to chip away at creating awareness for the Pacific Garbage Patch.
I created a series of animals and imagined this patch as a landmass. The animals are all made out of plastic and discarded objects.
Collaborative Illustration with Ben Marriott under the name Exquisite Squid. Created in a process of drawing ping pong.
Custom lettering for an educational resource. Commissioned by Spinks and Suns, a boutique graphic design agency in Sydney.
I was in a group exhibition called Bohemian Grove. We were all asked to create a piece which embodied the bohemian lifestyle.
My Space Owl was a rendering of the Cosmic Owl from Adventure Time mixed with the interdimensional attributes of my own inky intricacies.
This detailed poster was hand illustrated and digitally coloured. Available through the shop.
Commissioned canvas painted with spray paint and markers.
A collaborative effort between Ben Marriott and I under the name Exquisite Squid. Also printed as a tee for The UD3, urban street tees.
The collaborative illustration was undertaken with Ben Marriott, under the name Exquisite Squid. The process we used was similar to the surrealist's exquisite corpse.
A creative, colourful skull illustration for Sydney street label The UD3.
A commissioned custom tattoo design and illustration.
Drawing for my solo show last year at Blacklisted Gallery in Sydney.
A small forgetful fish Illustration. Soon to be available for sale as a print in the shop.
A drawing of our strange little Aussie anteater. Drawn for my solo show last year at Blacklisted Gallery.