Creative, Sweet

Shawnee Tekii X BurgerFuel

Posted by Creative, Sweet

Shawnee Tekii’s works take us to a familiar place we’ve never known, her choice of vibrant colours and vivid imagery allow our youthful minds to piece together our favourite memories from a night out we never had but know so well. We sat down with Shawnee to hear about her journey as an artist and where she’s heading in the future.

Haser: Thank you for joining us, for those that are first time observers of your work, can you tell us who you are and where you’re from? 

Shawnee: My name is Shawnee Tekii and I'm a fine artist, living and working out of Te Atatu Peninsula, West Auckland. 

Awesome, there’s a lot of good that comes out of the Peninsula, I like to consider myself one of them. 

Enough about me, we all have our own story when it comes to the beginning of our creative journeys. Can you tell us when you started illustrating/painting, and what got you into it? 

I’m an only child so a lot of my alone time as a kid was spent being creative with whatever I could get my hands on! But as I started getting older, I think that it was the support from my parents that really made me pursue art as a career. There aren’t a lot of parents out there that would support their child entering a creative career, but mine have always supported every choice I've ever made. I don’t think I would be where I am without them!

Shout outs to your parents. The creative journey is usually unique to the artist, there isn’t really a mould you can fit to, so I think it’s really important for young creatives to start their journey with the support of their parents.

You have an interesting process with your art, a lot of layering and intricate details, what led you to this body of work. 

I’ve always loved super detailed and intricate art. It probably came from art originally being a really therapeutic hobby for me as a child. But throughout my fine art studies I was introduced to screen printing which I loved! I loved being able to work gradually towards a final outcome, through a layering process. Then later down the track I was introduced to a vinyl cutter and a process of working that many signage companies use, through a workshop at uni. I remember thinking in this class “this would be a sick way to create intricate stencils, why is no one jumping on this lol”  So I reached out to the man who led the workshop. Explained to him my ideas and with his incredible support, I developed my own way of working. Shout out to Peter Gibson Smith, my practice wouldn’t exist without his relentless support over the years.

I love that process, and I love that you were able to see something beyond the process. I don’t think we show enough love to those that master their crafts and pass that knowledge on, so here’s to all the teachers, tutors, masters and pioneers.

Your works scream process, and I imagine they take some time, based on how intricate they are, how long do they take? 

Every painting I make is a really labour intensive and time consuming process. Depending on the size and detail, one painting can take anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months. The process of working with detailed stencils is quite finicky, but it’s also so satisfying once it’s complete! I have a bit of OCD in terms of my process of working and the standard I hold myself and my work to. So I think that definitely plays a part in the amount of time each piece takes to create. 

It kinda hurts my brain thinking about it, but it really is evident in your work that such care and precision is taken. 

You have a strong body of work in your studio, do you think these will graduate into the mural space? 

I would love to move into creating large scale murals! My process of working would definitely need to change as I know stencilling super detailed murals would take me a lifetime, but I know it can be done. And would be a really exciting development for me.

Sometimes moving into this space forces you to go outside of your comfort zone, usually resulting in you creating a new way of working, either way, we look forward to seeing you accept this challenge one day.

Is art a full-time hustle or something you are working towards? 

Currently my art practice and career is my main hustle and priority! But I also work in two other jobs as well. I’m a lecturer at my old university - Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, and I'm also a trainer and coach at F45 Te Atatu. I spent a long time trying to think of a single job that would let me live out my creative passion, give back to my community and create a balance between alone time in the studio (which I do love) and something that also included positive social interactions. And I've managed to do that working across the three different sectors that I do! It sounds cheesy as but work never feels like work for me, ever. I love everything that I do!

Awesome, it sounds hectic but it also sounds logical, it kind of allows you to tick all the boxes that you need in life. As a full-time artist working out of a private studio, there are definitely times where I can go an entire week without speaking to anyone other than my household.

In saying that, all of that sounds great but how do you manage to squeeze it all in, what’s an average day for you? 

An average day for me always starts off at the gym at F45 Te Atatu. I’ll then make my way into my studio, and the first thing I always do is clean up my space. I like to do my morning meditation, before setting a list of goals and intentions for the day on my iPad. And then I get to work! At the moment I'm working on a series of painted skateboard decks, so a typical day would probably include prepping some boards and creating stencils on my iPad. A mixture of admin work for my art business and uni classes and then painting all day until my eyes blur and I need a break! I only live two minutes away from my studio, so it’s easy for me to work into the night until I'm ready to head home and crash out.

It sounds like such a harmonious way of living, I’m sure it has its thorns. I always think this is how I will handle my creative life, but fate always chooses chaos. 

Have you done any travelling on the back of your art, or is there anywhere in the world you’d like to take your art?

I’ve not yet had the chance to do any travelling off the back of my art, unfortunately! I only really just had the opportunity to travel last year. And I wish I had prioritised it earlier! I would let my art take me anywhere in the world if I was given the opportunity. But to get to New York or Tokyo with my art would be incredible. It’s a huge goal of mine!

Travel should be considered a crucial part of our creative journeys, and not just a luxury. We’re sure you’ll get there soon. 

Are there any artists out there that are really doing it for you at the moment? 

Damn, soooo many. Instagram is the greatest platform for finding new creative inspiration. When I go through my saved posts/artists, currently I have Amir Fallah, Shishi San, Alex Yanes, PichiAvo and Macarena Luzi at the forefront of my feed!

Great list, I don’t think I’ve heard of any of them but I’m looking forward to checking them out.

When art isn’t at the forefront, what else do you do to occupy your time? And does that inspire the process or do you prefer to keep your art and life separate?  

I’m really lucky I'm able to merge all aspects of my art, my working life and my social life together. Being able to exert my physical energy as well as socialise with others at the gym, allows me to FULLY immerse myself in my creative work when I'm alone in my studio. My studio isn’t where I go just to work on my art. Sometimes I just need some alone time, sometimes I'll just sleep on my couch. But being able to chill in a space where my work can also thrive, is a real blessing and I love that I can do it all, at the same time. 

Well said, we can call success whatever we want, but part of being a successful artist is managing your life. I need to manage the space in my studio so I can get a couch in there and get some of this sleep you speak of. 

We have all sat around and discussed our ambitions based on a “If money wasn’t an issue” situation, what would your dream gig be? 

Collaborating with top streetwear brands through my art somehow would be incredible. I would love to have the opportunity to present my art to a large commercial stage. And then to share all of my experiences with my students. Leading by example and showing them that their creative ambitions can really lead to incredible opportunities. The art world is tough, but I love exciting my students with all of the possibilities out there for them. That would be the cherry on top. 

Awesome, and very achievable. I’ve had some great collabs in my time and as you mentioned, it’s a very aspirational goal for young creatives to be inspired by. We look forward to seeing you on the big stage soon.

Speaking of young creatives, what advice would you give your younger artist self? 

Take on board what is compelling to you, and forget about the rest. Build connections! Connections with like minded people has gotten me further than any cold application for a show/job/funding/opportunity ever has.


And fake it til you make it. If you don’t have the confidence yet, pretend like you do. Act out the persona of the person you want to be, and it will happen naturally. 

Younger you would be proud of you, I’m also going to give myself that advice, watch this space.

BurgerFuel has a large fleet of classic vehicles, what’s your dream machine? 

Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted a Ford Mustang, all blacked out!

With a car like that, you wouldn’t be cruising in silence, what songs/artists would get some heavy rotation in this bad boy? 

SIR, Ari Lennox, Cleo Sol and J.Cole always.

Bangers, and last but not least, favourite burger from the Fuel? 

V-Twin Vege every time!

Classic option.

Thanks a lot for your time Shawnee, if you would like to see more of Shawnee's work you can follow her on the grams or visit her website here.