Hi, I’m Shyama (rhymes with llama and the Y is silent).
I got my start entering rodeo art competitions and wasting actual film taking photos of neighborhood cats in Houston, Texas. My parents are both from Sri Lanka and worked as scientists, and their work still influences the kind of art I make today. Drawing horses was my thing, until middle school, when I taught myself how to write HTML from a Dummies book so I could make my own websites. My most notable work during this era was a portrait of all the Spice Girls in MS Paint which I had lovingly drawn one pixel at a time. I then went to Texas Tech University for graphic design and after graduation, did a huge range of things over the next decade: logos, packaging design, app design, publication design, websites, tons of GIFs, and even typeface design. It was all going well, but I had a gut feeling that I was meant to be driving in another lane. I slowly learned to plow through the self doubting voices in my head to able to make my own art, which has also lead to some great collaborations over the years.
Currently, my oil, acrylic, and iPad paintings use figuration to explore the complex and layered ways identity is experienced, performed, and reinforced. The subjects I depict are a combination of real and imagined people, with masks and animals often functioning as metaphors for human social dynamics. One series I am working on involves taking characters used in traditional Sri Lankan folk dances, and placing them in contemporary Americana scenes, and another places people I know in infinite abstract pattern worlds.
I love incorporating subtle animation, or making seamless patterns out of my digital work, and I often share my process on instagram when I'm working on physical paintings.
HBO, Universal Pictures, The New York Times, Apple, Adobe, Wired, The Atlantic, The Undefeated, Fast Company, Washington Post, Slate, Texas Monthly Magazine, Red Bull Music Academy, Penguin Random House, Chronicle Books, Flavor Paper, Wieden+Kennedy and many others.
FOR BURNING QUESTIONS:
If you’d like to get in touch, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org