Shaw Nielsen

I am an illustrator whose work aims to bring a bit of sunshine to magazines, advertising, books, and newspapers. I have been an illustrator for close to 10 years and over those 10 years I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with many wonderful clients from all over the world, including Disney, The New York Times, Dewar’s Whiskey, Major League Baseball, Usborne Publishing and Aspen Ski Co. to name just a few.

I’m originally from Denver, Colorado where I grew up always loving to draw and where I eventually studied illustration in College. While living in Denver I worked as a graphic designer and a web developer before quitting to become a full-time illustrator. In search of something new and a slower pace of life my wife and I moved to Crested Butte, Colorado - a small ski town in the southwest of the state. After several years in Crested Butte and in search of something new again my wife and I applied for Canadian permanent residency. Once we got the news we would be allowed to move to
Canada we sold our home and a lot of our belongings and headed north. Staying in Rossland, BC to start we had grand plans to head to a different town in the Kootaneys each weekend until we found a town we could think of as home. Fernie was the first town we visited and ended up being the only one we visited before deciding to make it home.

To me being an illustrator has always meant that I’m a blue-collar artist. People hire me to build images like you would hire a carpenter to build a chair. I draw images for clients like newspapers, book publishers and advertising agencies and they hire me because I’m a craftsman. My creativity has always found context and a home in the wider world not because of my singular artistic vision but rather through a process of collaboration with editors, writers, publishers and clients. And it is through that blue-collar process of collaboration that I’m finding new meaning and purpose in my work these pandemic-tinged days. Getting up everyday and getting to work with people to tell stories feels special and exciting in a largely homebound world.

The artist Miranda July recently said in an interview that this moment in time is the ultimate creative prompt and I couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure what we’ll all create moving forward but I’m looking forward to being a part of whatever it is we all do build.

To learn more about Shaw and to view additional illustrations, visit shawnielsen.com or visit his instagram account.