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  • The Early Years

    artist self portrait at 17 // pencil

    That's me, at 17. When I drew that portrait, I had just gotten back from the Midwestern Music and Art Camp, at the University of Kansas (I was named Best Artist, which was a thrill for me). When my senior year of High School started, I was on the staff of the school paper, utilizing my cartooning skill to try and establish an identity for myself as more than an awkward teenager. It worked; I was an awkward teenaged art geek. My cartooning got me noticed by the editorial cartoonist for the Kansas City Star, which in turn led to me becoming an intern at Hallmark Cards. By that time I had already started school at the University of Kansas. After a car accident sidelined me for about a year, I transferred...

  • The 1970s & 1980s

    artist self portrait // pencil

    ...to Art Center College of Design in LA, intending to become an illustrator. But there I discovered advertising, which became my abiding passion... and my career. Somewhere along the way I drew this second self portrait. Note the granny glasses: very much in fashion at the time.

    It was a good time to be in the advertising business: budgets were big; clients were open to creative ideas. And some of those creative ideas were actually mine. For 30 years in Chicago I designed campaigns (both TV and Print) for clients like WLS TV, McDonald's, Gallo Winery, Kemper Insurance, Gatorade and Cap'n Crunch.

  • 1990s to Present

    artist self portrait // watercolor

    As time went on, I came to realize that my career in advertising would most likely not be open-ended. I went back to school and got a Masterís Degree in Illustration. Murray Tinkelmanís Independent Studies Program there was a life changing event for me.

    As I inevitably became less and less relevant to the ad business, I transitioned to more and more teaching and freelance illustration work. Iíve illustrated for newspapers, magazines, and childrenís books, and had several gallery exhibitions. I currently teach online at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Neil Shapiro Artist Statement

Whether it's my portrait work, my landscapes, or my illustrations for both newspapers, magazines or children's books, I hope you find some common threads here. I think you'll see that, despite the intended audience for any particular piece, that I have a deep respect for line, shape, and form. I think you'll see that I have a love for letterforms. Perhaps you'll get an idea of my sense of humor, or my handling of various media. I've been creating imagery for as long as I can remember, and I can't imagine not doing so.

There's so much more to draw, so much more to paint! First, though, I really must get a bite to eat.

- Neil Shapiro // Chicago
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