SHELBY GUBBA is an artist and musician currently living in San Diego. She plays bass and sings in The Dabbers and sings in (Charles) Book & Record. In January 2015, she released the first issue of Goblin Reservation, a quarterly online arts and culture magazine. She also posts updates on her own work at her website.
ON OWLS AND FRIENDS
There’s a gallery here in South Park called Disclosed Unlocation — they had a show that was owl-themed and they asked me to do some pieces for that. That’s what started the owl thing. I did three pieces: Owl on Drugs, Owl in Love, and Owl in Car. As soon as the show started I’d already sold Owl in Love, and then my friends got Owl on Drugs. I decided to keep Owl in Car, and then it became the cover for Owl Night Long, so that worked out.
I’ve always priced my art really low because I want people to have it in their home. In 2007 I had this solo show where I sold nine pieces the opening night. I had priced them all at twenty to fifty bucks, so I think that’s why they sold so quickly. I would so much rather leave an art show with nothing and have people actually own my stuff. I think there’s nothing worse than having all this old art in my house. I would rather have it in other people’s homes, the homes of my friends and of strangers, then just sitting on my desk looking sad and rejected, waiting to be gifted as Christmas and birthday presents.
ON CARTOONS AND AFFIRMATION
When I say I draw cartoons, I think people automatically think it’s rainbows and unicorns, like cutesy-
wootsy, but I think there’s a darker side to my work. I think there’s a big difference between drawing
cartoons and taking objects and anthropomorphizing them.
One piece I did for a show in 2008 was called 831 Characters. I literally spent 72 hours looking around my room and outside my window and thinking of every object and putting eyes on it and making it feel alive. So they’re cartoons, but they’re also just a peek into the lives of these inanimate objects. If I had to describe my drawings in general, I don’t feel “cartoons” does it for me.
I got into a habit of drawing on the receipts at restaurants, and then I came to find out that the places were keeping them. I’ll go in and see my stuff taped up on the wall, or on the menu board. One place has it kept inside of a waitress check book. It’s a nice little affirmation that people really like my stuff. I’ll draw it thinking “oh this is an octopus drinking sake,” and then leave it like a little gift with the check. And then there’s this expectation that you’ll go back and leave them a drawing the next time.
ON MOMENTS AND HOT DOGS
I did a show called Super Inky Paper Pop where I had scanned images of little art pieces I had done, and then I took them to Kinko’s and blew them up 500%. Then I flipped the images and soaked them in stinky marker to make a reverse stamped image of the original. Some of them were originally drawn an inch tall and they ended up as these huge sort of distorted images. One of my favorite pieces from that show was called Miserable Hot Dog. He just looked really sad.
I’m not good at sequential stuff. I’m not good at doing storyboards. People tell me I should do children’s books. But it’s kinda feels like when I’m drawing stuff, I’m capturing this little moment, but I’m not following their lives. I’m just checking in for a second. I think there’s enough character in one little drawing if you just capture it — like the miserable hot dog. There’s just so much in his eyes.
Click the thumbnails for more from Shelby.
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