Making her art her guide, New York-based independent artist and creative Shawna X channels energy and emotion through her work. A work that teaches her and allows her to get to know herself better, in a creative universe defined by vibrant colours, optimism and an incredible dose of energy, along with a sense of community and cultural identity. Now, this energy and positivity that her works give off join forces with Ballantine's after a difficult time in which we have all proven to be stronger than we could think at first. The creative has transformed the iconic Ballantine's Finest bottle, in a process that she recognizes as easy and organic. An action in which she has also collaborated with various local artists.
“The process started before all of this happened,” says Shawna X when we ask her how the collaboration with Ballantine’s came about. But this synergy makes more sense now than ever, precisely when we need extra optimism in our lives. Aware of the importance of feeling connected to the people around her and creating bonds that go beyond what is obvious to the human eye, this project takes their limited-edition artwork to the streets and into bars across the globe via murals and local events.

“I understand every community has its own flavours that only locals are privy to,” adds the artist, who stays connected through quick meditations while exploring the interpretation of her work through Artificial Intelligence and generative art. We talk to her to find out all the details of her collaboration with Ballantine's.
Shawna, nice to meet you! How are you? Where do you answer us from?
Hi, I’m in Brooklyn, I’m doing good! Tired always but feeling grateful.
Based in New York, you enjoy projects about cultural identity, the creative process and motherhood. And you have worked with some of the most prominent international brands and organizations, creating experiences in fashion, music or technology. How would you define your work and when was your first approach to the artistic field?
My personal work often reflects the emotional space between conception and understanding, as I believe emotions are nuanced and take so much awareness and time to fully digest and encapsulate their purpose. I take this energy and interpret it within all of the personal and collaborative projects. Currently, I’m exploring the interpretation of my work through AI and generative art, which has been more than interesting as it’s teaching me a thing or two about control.
When immersing ourselves in your work, we feel an injection of vibrant colours, a combination of exciting textures and graphic images that make up a creative universe with a life of its own. Have you always felt so connected to colour? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?
I often come into work with an open mind within a parameter, both extremes I need to be able to create something successful. I’ve always held such a vibrant core inside and learned to channel it into my work before I can express it through my body. My work teaches me. For the transformation of the iconic Ballantine’s Finest Bottle with a colourful style I was tapping into the feeling of joy being with a community of people who I connect to, have fun with, and am vulnerable with and supportive too, especially after the past year of isolation. The connection is vibrant and colourful.
But if we transcend what is obvious to the human eye and analyse the emotions that your artwork gives off, special mention should be made on optimism, illusion and strength as fundamental pillars of your creative universe. Unique energy that now takes on special relevance in your collaboration with Ballantine's, isn't it?
It is, this artwork came through many interpretations and more specifically right during the pandemic, the beginning stages. The colours needed to be there. That is why this collaboration with Ballantine’s aligned so well with my creative process and energy. For me the ethos behind the campaign, the respect spoke to me.
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Bringing your colourful and bold style to their iconic Finest Bottle in celebration of vibrant communities, your partnership with Ballantine's is an ode to recovery and vitality after two difficult years for all of us. How did this collaboration come about and what would you highlight from the development process?
The process started before all of this happened. And, to be honest, the transition felt very effortless. The need for community was felt more deeply than ever before and it fully translated into the final product and artwork.
And how have you experienced the global pandemic and lockdown? Do you feel that you have changed your way of understanding and interpreting reality in any way?
I have changed so much through the pandemic and in so much honesty and openness. I think the lockdown has really brought out everything we want to hide from, by being so close to ourselves. Some people really learned from them and learned to face these challenges, and I believe I am one of those people. I feel much closer to myself, and thus closer to others and my community, and thus closer to my dreams.
I am especially interested in the concept of community, intrinsic to your joint action. “Community spirit is something that has always been important to me so being able to work closely with and champion local communities around the world has been a unique experience,” you said. Could you tell us more about it?
I’ve come to adapt that we are all one. We share the same air, the same makeup, the same land. I think the human experience as a whole is fascinating. Though it’s quite too large for me to even wrap my head around, I try to focus on my immediate community, whether that’s my family, my neighbourhood, or my friends. When you are in a space with people who you connect to beyond any material means, but simply spirit, it is the best feeling.
In this process, you will collaborate with local artists. And it is that collaborations, both in the field of design, fashion or music, continue to gain ground in search of new formulas never seen before. What do you enjoy most about this format?
I wanted the art to inspire a local artist in each community to have artistic freedom to express their version of community and joy as I understand every community has its own flavours that only locals are privy to. I really loved collaborating in a way that empowers creative freedom, while feeling a sense of connection and collaboration.
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I would also like to address the therapeutic and healing power of art, which helps to improve physical and mental health. Have you experienced these effects first-hand?
As I said, my art is my guide. I go back to earlier works all the time and resonate with the energy I was attempting to portray, and immediately understand where I was at the time. If I look at the works, I create presently I may not have the same clarity. Art to me is my personal bookmark of experiences.
And if there is something that this unusual situation has taught us, it has been to be more connected to the present. Something difficult in a society that advances at a dizzying pace. How do you stay connected to the here-now?
It’s really hard. Especially now I have two young kids, it’s very difficult to stay connected. I try my best with quick meditations, and also feeling in my body, noting a connection when I feel it etc. It’s a constant practice.
Is there anything you can tell us about your next projects? Any specific goal for 2022?
To be intentional, to feel gratitude, to create work that is deeply vulnerable and appreciate that process.
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