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about the artist

Artist Statement: My name is Shawn Palek, and I am an airbrush artist. For the past 20 years I have been creating one-of-a-kind, airbrushed artwork. The airbrush is not a tool that is easily mastered, and I feel that through my continued experiences, I've learned to use it to its best potential.

I specialize in realism of images on a variety of surfaces and subjects. I paint portraits, animals, graphics, and other subjects on canvases, clothing, cycles, walls, helmets, and even bodies. I like having the ability to work on a wide range of surfaces with the airbrush. Being both a commission and consignment artist, I have the challenge of meeting or exceeding a client's expectations in work I do for them, while still having the freedom to do pieces of my own choosing, for fun.

I had received an airbrush for a present at age 19 and was continually asking the manager of the Art Store, in Ames, how to use it. She recommended that I take the airbrush classes at the local community college (DMACC). Since I was already in the Criminal Justice program, I added the airbrush class as one of my electives. I enjoyed learning what you could do with the airbrush tool and at the end of the next semester, after completing the Airbrush II Class, I decided to leave the Criminal Justice program and enter into the Commercial Art program. I graduated in 1993 with and AA in Commercial Art. The previous summer I had started my first business with a classmate called Zombie Air Designs. We mostly painted on T-shirts and clothing. In 1994 we closed the business and moved onto other adventures.

In 1995, I started working at a shopping mall airbrushing t-shirts and from there I learned to paint on canvases, leathers, murals, and motorcycles. A couple of years after working at the mall, I started teaching the Airbrush classes for the same community college (DMACC) I graduated from and we opened a new location downtown Des Moines and branched into tattooing. In 2000, after doing all the painting for the shop, managing it, and trying my hand at tattooing, I left to stay at home with my daughter and do freelance work.

In 2004 an opportunity arose to start a custom paint business with an acquaintance. During this time I perfected the art of painting on motorcycles, vehicles, and helmets.

I have accumulated over 50 ribbons at the Iowa State Fair in the Creative Arts competition (so much so that they changed the rules for entering because of me). I also took Best of Show in 2006 in the Fine Arts competition at the State Fair also. In 2008 I had my first bike on the cover of a magazine, American Iron Customs. I have also, in conjunction with Custom Paint Specialists, have received numerous trophies for my paint work on motorcycles.

Currently I teach for DMACC and the Art Store in West Des Moines, write a custom paint article for Throttler Magazine, sit on the board of a local charity (called Biker's Assistance Fund), create pin-up work for an on-line company called Up Your Art, belong to the art group Art-a-holics, and also do all the artwork for Custom Paint Specialists, and have a home based studio where I do freelance work. I am also hard at work trying to get my airbrush work recognized in the fine arts community in the Des Moines area by submitting it to local galleries and participating in art markets and art festivals.

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