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Name: Shan Fannin

Business: Art by Shan Fannin 

Location: Austin, Texas, U.S. 

Industry: Arts & Entertainment 

Reason for starting? Once our son started college, my family encouraged me to go back to my art. I had walked away from a scholarship to be a special needs drawing teacher in order to marry, join the workforce, have a family, and homeschool for 16yrs. I returned to school and took a few art classes. I especially enjoyed figurative drawing. When my husband purchased a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, we began attending car/motorcycle events. On a dare, I painted my first vehicle in October 2014. Once I finished that painting, I knew that vehicle art was my future. Since then, I have met race car drivers, celebrities, and traveled to England for the Goodwood Festival of Speed to photograph vehicles for future paintings. I had my first solo exhibition in 2016 at Amelia Island, and will have my 2nd exhibition featuring vintage cars, motorcycles, and airplanes the month of September at Link & Pin Gallery, Austin. My goal? I want to be one of the finest vehicle painters on the planet.

Related: Read about another Arts & Entertainment entrepreneur here.

How do you define success?
Success comes in many forms for me. I want my work to be admired and collected. When I post a painting in progress, I would like collectors to desire that new piece and wish to own it. Success is also writing articles for other artists that help my industry to grow and thrive (I’ve written for Artists on Art, StudioVox, Create!, Creative Women Summit, and Manhattan Arts International). Success is being a role model and positive example to others. Lastly, success to me is making a living creating my art. To be able to help with my family income and be able to put funds away for retirement.

Biggest success: 
My biggest success to date? On a personal level, it would be that I have run 26 half marathons and 6 marathons since 2010. My mom passed in 2010 and never took care of her health or pushed herself. I made a promise to myself that I would complete 20 halves and 5 marathons before I reached 50. I met this goal at age 46, and kept on going. I have more halves later this year.

My biggest success to date with my career? Having a solo exhibition 17 months after becoming a professional artist. I was given this amazing opportunity during the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2016 after one of my paintings was seen at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport. From that moment on, I realized that I could follow my dreams and become success if I worked hard, gave back to others, was honest, and patient.

Related: A Female Pilot Soars as a Niche Entrepreneur 

What is your top challenge
 and how you have addressed it? As a former marketing director, marketing and networking come naturally to me. I believe that Art is a business, and needs to be nurtured just as any other business. My biggest challenge is BALANCE. Balancing family, exercise, sleep, painting, marketing, sales, networking, and personal time. Just when I think I have things covered, life changes and I’m juggling many balls all over again. It is a process and with experience, I’m sure I will get better with it. The biggest thing I’ve learned? Delegation of chores is a MUST, and the crock pot is your friend.

When I started out as a realist vehicle painter, I had several mention they were surprised I am a woman in this field. My field, that of vehicle art, is predominantly male. I had someone pull me aside and suggest that I sign my paintings with a male style so that my viewers thought I was male. I really thought about this, and decided it would be a lie. I am proud of what I do. I am proud of being a woman. I will not hide my gender, but boldly paint the name “Shan” on each of my paintings in my feminine style. That one suggestion was a turning point for me. I plan on being one of the finest vehicle painters on the planet, and my gender shouldn’t make a difference.

Who is your most important role model? 
I would have to say other successful female contemporary artists. I don’t follow other vehicle artists, as I find that I start to doubt myself. I also don’t want to be influenced by a particular style. I prefer to follow female artists that are in the fields of portraiture, landscapes, and abstracts. I’m also a big fan of sculptors, photographers, playwrights, and all females in the arts. Being a woman in the arts is tough. We don’t make as much, we aren’t recognized as much, and we aren’t given as many opportunities to be in the big museums or galleries. However, times are changing. The contemporary female artists of today are turning the tide. It is a wonderful time to be a woman artist.


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Edited by The Story Exchange