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Shay Lawhorn

Artists Heart ROC

On a Thursday night at Joe Bean

Interview No. 74

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Where are you originally from?

I’m from Hilton originally and am now a student at RIT in the Illustration program.

What’s your favorite part of living in Rochester?

Even though it’s a small city, there’s plenty of parks and nature that’s easy to access. Hamlin Park is one of my favorites. You can always find something to do!

Do you have any favorite/secret Rochester spots?

Not particularly—I’m always trying to find new places!

What’s the most unique or interesting event you’ve attended in Rochester?

I recently went to the preview party for the Memorial Art Gallery’s new exhibit, Pax Kaffraria by Meleko Mokgosi. It was lots of fun and the huge oil paintings were so cool!

Describe your dream Rochester day.

As long as it’s nice and warm, I’m usually up for anything! Whether I’m in the city or the suburbs, I’m always trying new things. I recently visited Genesee Brew House and walked across the Pont de Rennes for the first time!

What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?

Being in the arts, I’m constantly surrounded by color, so sometimes gray is a refreshing change of pace! I also lived in Florida for awhile and it felt like you were on vacation all the time, so it feels good to be back home in Upstate New York.

What is your favorite Rochester memory?

The merry-go-round at Charlotte Beach is one of my favorites. I go there all the time and I’ll ride it any chance I get!

What makes Rochester unique?

The atmosphere of all the people—there’s so much diversity here. I’m meeting so many interesting and creative people at RIT, too! When I was living in Florida, there wasn’t much in terms of museums and culture, and there’s so much of it here; that’s really nice.

What do you think could be improved?

A lot has already been improved, especially for artists! There are more and more shows and pop-ups for local artists. I work at West Elm and there’s always a ton going on there.

Do you have a favorite charity/nonprofit you like to support?

St. Jude’s, and anything for the music and arts.

Favorite coffee shop?

I go to Java’s a lot! And Village Bakery.

Favorite restaurant?

Well, Waffle Factory is on my list of places to try! Other than that, I really love going to Aladdin’s.

Favorite neighborhood?

Center City—I go down there a lot to Rochester Art Supply Inc. on West Main to pick up everything I need for my art projects. I’m there all the time!

What’s it like being an artist in Rochester? What’s the best part?

It’s the best thing ever! We’re kids at heart—we’ve never grown up. Plus, there’s a really great community at RIT. Imagine RIT is a big event coming up and there will be tons of art there!

What’s the most challenging part of being an artist in Rochester?

I wouldn’t say there are challenges particular to being in Rochester. The community is really strong here, so other artists will help you out. But as an artist, people don’t realize how much goes into your work. Art draws on English, math, science, and so much more!

Where in Rochester do you go to get inspired?

As long as I can be outside with some music on, I’m in my zone. I listen to a lot of Andrew McMahon.

Who are your influences?

Jackson Pollack is one—I do a lot of splatter painting. It really depends on what I’m trying to create!

Any advice for other artists/creatives in the area?

You just have to keep going! Even if you get rejected, just keep it up. As long as you love what you’re doing, it’s worth it.

Shay Lawhorn is an RIT Illustration student and West Elm employee by day, and a freelance artist by night. Check out more of Shay's perspective on our Instagram.