Born and raised in picturesque northern Michigan, Shawn Kawa’s artistic talent and creativity emerged when he was just a young boy of six. Encouraged by his teachers to continue drawing and painting throughout his childhood and teenage years, Shawn spent the better part of his youth creating fantasy and scifi artworks with aspirations to be a book illustrator. Having mastered oils, pencils, pastels, and clay sculpture by age 16, he then began learning how to use computers to produce artwork while he also began the study and practice of several martial arts.
Shawn spent his early college years studying art, refining his drawing and painting technique while working in Detroit’s auto factories. After earning his black belt in Hapkido, Shawn began attending fine art and computer art classes at Detroit’s Center of Creative Studies. During these years, Shawn found himself drawn to the industrial-influenced pulse of Detroit techno. Melding his musical interests with his connection to the art scene, Shawn then began acting as an art curator for his own techno and house music afterparties, which drew hundreds of people. Around this time, Shawn began studying the aboriginal cultures of Australia, which would forever influence the direction of his fine artworks.
Shawn left school to pursue his first jobs creating effects art for video games in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Working for major game companies like Electronic Arts and Activision, and later Warner Brothers when he moved to Chicago, Shawn’s effects artwork appears in such notable games series as Lord of the Rings, Xmen, Shrek, and Mortal Kombat. While developing his career as a game artist, Shawn took an inspiring trip to Hawaii that led him to begin a series of butterfly artworks using colored pencils. With the natural beauty of the island on Shawn’s mind, his continued fascination with Australia’s Barramundi tribal culture led to the start of an ongoing series of butterfly portraits that have become his trademark. While living on the West coast, Shawn began DJing, producing electronic dance music, and throwing techno and house events in San Francisco. He also spent a year in Berlin, working as a video game artist and immersing himself in the vibrant dance music culture and art scene. His next move took him to Chicago, where he continued growing his career as a game effects artist and fine artist. While producing techno and house events, Shawn continued DJing and incorporating his graphic art into live video installations.
Now a full-time fine artist, Shawn currently resides in San Francisco. He continues to practice martial arts, DJ, and produce electronic music, constantly striving for new ways to merge all of his creative energies.
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