Sometimes good things happen by accident. While at a photo exhibit for the super talented Nik C, the work of another artist managed to catch my attention (sorry Nik). The photos were of a nude-model, positioned at unflattering angles, and digitally enhanced so that they seemed in motion. I was quite impressed by the overall presentation. A friend of mine noticed a woman nearby who looked strikingly similar to the model in the photos. I said, “that’s not her, that’s the photographer.” I was eventually proven wrong as Shanina Dionna confessed that she was the model as well as the photographer / graphic designer. But not to allow her work to upstage her bubbling personality, Ms. Dionna proceeded to express how happy she was meeting new people who appreciated her work. An introduction and a few corny jokes later and the meeting was scheduled for Shanina Dionna to be featured on Concrete Cakes.
CC: How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
SD: Five words? Friendly. Passionate. I get Eccentric a lot, so I guess I’m eccentric. Loyal. Loving.
CC: How do you want people to perceive your work?
SD: All in the same. I definitely want to encourage people with my work; inspire them to go for their dreams. Nothing’s impossible and I’m a living witness of that so if I can encourage just one person, that’s my goal.
CC: What do you mean when you say, you’re a “living witness of that”?
SD: Well, it took a lot for me to come out as Shanina Dionna, a graphic fine artist and photographer, and to even look at myself as that. It actually started when I was in Chicago back in April 2011, and I got a lot of great feedback from my photography work out there. It’s amazing what people see in you that you don’t always see in yourself. I got that I was a bold artist; that I was a brave artist lol. And it was just really encouraging that people saw that in me when I didn’t even see it in myself. So now here I am a year later, going for it, networking and following through with what I love instead of it just being in my head.
CC: So do you see yourself becoming a full time artist?
SD: Absolutely! Ideally, I would love to be able to sustain myself from it.
CC: So what do you think you have to do to get to that point?
SD: Really, just taking chances and challenging myself, which is what I’ve been doing as of late and it’s been working out in my favor. Because sometimes I play it safe, I’ll be honest. But once I start to push myself into networking or trying something new with my work, or using different subject matters like myself, nude, it’ll all help build my craft and open a lot of doors.
CC: Do you really have problems networking? You seem very personable.
SD: Yeah it’s a challenge! lol. Yea, I’m a people person and I’m friendly and all that stuff but when it comes down to business and the serious stuff, I cringe. I’m actually shaking right now lol. But I’m learning all this as I go so I’m taking it all in and rolling with the punches, as they say.
CC: Which of your works are you most proud of and why?
SD: I’m proud of all of them. I’m most proud though, of my latest exhibit work. I created a series called, “Flaws and All” and it is myself nude. And it’s just expressing my insecurities and flaws (well what I consider to be my flaws) but allowing the photos to find some kind of beauty in my flaws and have people appreciate it as a work of art. That was a breakthrough moment for me. I’m just overwhelmingly encouraged by the feedback I’m getting from that, because it really took a lot for me to even do the shoot, let alone put it out there. So I’m very grateful.
CC: What do you suggest other artists do to develop their own style and become comfortable with their work?
SD: I definitely think that it’s beneficial for artists to explore and travel and not be subjected to what’s here in the states. Or not even leaving the states, if you haven’t been out of Philadelphia, maybe going to Ohio may inspire your work a great deal. Traveling in general, for me it helps. I love seeing new things and being inspired by different cultures and different views of the world. But also challenge yourself creatively to discover the awesome abilities you already have.
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(Posted by Garron Gibbs)