Shane Grammer has worked steadily as an artist and designer since 1996. While much of his body of work centers around street style murals and art installations, he has also worked in conceptual design, fabrication, and installation for major theme parks and various attractions. Shane has been a participant or major collaborator in a variety of other creative ventures and has worked for many high profile clients including: Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, Legoland, The Bellagio in Las Vegas, and Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York. Shane is currently signed with The Walt Disney Company, and his artwork can be found in Disney park galleries around the world. His other body of work can also be found nationally and internationally. Shane is also the founder of Hope Through Art Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings awareness to a variety of impactful causes through art.
The Formative Years – Work Ethic & Creativity
Throughout junior high and into high school Shane had developed a strong work ethic. He held down a variety of hustles and side-gigs that included dog walking, watering down a BMX track, working for the family business (they were in construction), and working for a contractor during school breaks, weekends, and summers. He quickly learned that he enjoyed working because it afforded him the opportunity of spending power. Shane loved having the ability to buy the things he wanted, and really understood the satisfaction of enjoying the fruits of his own labor. By the time he was a sophomore he purchased his own first pair of highly sought after Air Jordans with the money he’d earned, an accomplishment that may have seemed only a mere pipe dream for some of his peers at the time. But Shane wanted to make his dreams a reality, and, even from a young age, he knew he was capable.
In regard to art and creativity, Shane was fascinated by the work of Walt Disney and his team of animation artists. His first drawing that he can recall was of Jiminy Cricket from Walt Disney’s Pinnochio. He had sketched the plucky character from observation from a book illustration when he was only ten years old. Upon seeing the drawing, Shane’s dad was skeptical that he had drawn the picture by hand, and asked his son to recreate the drawing again, only this time make it bigger. To his astonishment, Shane obliged his request.
School projects also provided welcome opportunities for Shane to exercise his creative prowess. In fifth grade, he was tasked with doing a report on Africa. The assignment required each student to create an African mask to accompany their projects. Many of his fellow students made simple, flat masks of construction paper, and traditional, elementary-level coloring mediums. Even at a young age, though, Shane, who was never been one to back down from a creative challenge, and to the astonishment of his teacher and fellow classmates, crafted a six foot tall, three-dimensional mask out of cardboard with painted tribal markings and hair made from straw he’d gathered from the field.
When Shane was in driver’s ed, he was teamed up with a girl from his class to write a ten page report and the construction of a 3-D model of a street corner. She loved to write, but hated the idea of having to make a model. Shane, on the other hand, loved model making, but hated writing. They were the perfect team! His partner wrote their paper, and Shane created a 3-D model that included streets, buildings, street lights, trees, grass, cars, and even a little creek that cut through the model. With their combined efforts, they received the highest grade in the class.
Shane started taking art classes when he was in high school, but at the time, he didn’t yet see art as a possible career option. He was still focused on his ambitions of becoming a pro basketball star. When he was a junior in high school, Shane won best of show for an art piece that he had entered into The Silver Dollar Fair, which was a local art fair in his hometown of Chico, California. The win was unexpected, but proved to be an exciting jolt of encouragement for him at the time. When Shane entered junior college, he tried out for basketball, but much to his great disappointment, he didn’t make the team. Discouraged and deflated, the wind knocked out of his sails, he quit school and went to work doing construction.
Soon thereafter, Shane also began working with inner city youth in San Francisco, California through Community Crossroads, and quickly found himself bouncing between that and work in construction.
A Growing Passion For Street Art
Shane had spent only one semester at Butte College in Northern California before dropping out after he didn’t make the basketball team. Shane admits, though, that one of the best things that ever happened to him is that while he was there, he ran across a fellow student who was watching a documentary for a report he was doing on the 1970s and 80s graffiti scene in New York City. Something inside Shane ignited. He was captivated by the colorful, rhythmically articulated shapes splashed and splattered dramatically against the backdrop of dull, smoke and rust tones of urban facades and train cars of New York City. As a native of Chico, California, a small college town renowned for their orchards, Shane had never seen anything quite like it. It was the bold, graphic style and large scale that captured his attention. What he wouldn’t give for the opportunity to create something that big and vibrant, works of art capable of transforming the entire experience of the space that surrounds it? In the years that followed, Shane intentionally sought opportunities to practice graffiti and street art, and made many requests of friends, colleagues, and local business owners to allow him to paint any large-scale surfaces they would grant him access to.
Shane landed his first graffiti mural gig through a church youth group. He was paid $200, and food and lodging expenses were covered as well. Shane was so excited for the opportunity, and felt like he had the world in his hands, living the good life.
His work caught people’s attention. One job quickly led to another. Shane was hired to paint a graffiti mural at a live event in front of five-thousand people. Job after job kept rolling in, and before he knew it, Shane had a sizable body of work and a wide range of experience–enough to begin to generate a steady flow of income capable of sustaining the life he knew wanted.
One Thing Leads to Another:
From Graffiti to Sculpture, Art Installation, and Scenic Fabrication
At the same time as Shane’s passion for graffiti art was growing, he was being hired to help with a variety of installation projects. Growing interest in Shane’s murals eventually led to a connection with the Nor Cal Assemblies of God Youth Convention, as well Dallas Christ for the Nations which hosted a kid’s camp every summer, and Shane was hired to create art and assist with fabrication projects. Most of these projects were large scale stage set designs, but he and a crew of artisans also constructed structures for outdoor gaming. This included water slides and elements for relay races. Business in fabrication was lucrative enough for Shane to provide for himself and his family, and although Shane really enjoyed working large scale, creating art that was interesting and interactive, he often viewed working on installations as grunt work where he was primarily assisting in the process of making someone else’s vision a reality. But Shane had visions of his own, and wanted to be a proactive part of the design process.
While working on one particular project, Shane had the privilege of being introduced to Hollywood movie sculptor, Thomas Pottage, who is known for his work on Jurassic Park, The Flintstones, Batman Forever, and Dracula, as well as his artistic contributions to theme parks across the United States, and several Las Vegas casinos. Shane spent the next several hours with the man who poured into him trade and industry techniques that proved invaluable to the success of Shane’s own growing business. Shane expressed that, even though he only spent a few hours with Pottage, it felt like he had received a full Master Class’s worth of useful tips and information.
Shane utilized this information and practiced skill sets to continue to grow his own business as an artist over the years that followed.
Paradise, Publicity, and Hope Through Art
In November of 2018, the most devastating wildfire in California’s recorded history raged through the Northern California city of Paradise. Paradise was a mere thirteen miles east of Shane’s native hometown, Chico. Shane and his family were now residing in Southern California, but a close friend of Shane’s who lived in Paradise contacted him with news about the fire, and sent images of the destruction. Shane took one look at the image of the charred chimney amidst the ash and debris, the sole standing structure among the remains of what was once his friend’s house, and he knew he needed to use it as a canvas for his next mural. His heart burned with a desire to create beauty amidst the ashes.
Shane gathered his gear and traveled north. Within a day the painting was complete. The face of a beauty painted in black and white stared out over the nearby road, catching the attention of local drivers who were passing by. Those who saw the mural were stunned that such a masterpiece could be found in a place so ravaged by destruction. The effect was powerful and gripping.
As rapidly as the wildfire itself had spread through Paradise, so too news of the mural went viral and spread to local news stations, and eventually the story ignited the attention of national media networks, all of whom reached out to Shane for the opportunity to share his story.
Shane was moved by how this singular painting had touched the lives of so many from the community who were struggling to regain lost hopes and dreams amid the destruction. He continued traveling to Paradise to paint more murals for the community. Some were self-funded projects, others were commissions from local businesses and homeowners who were eager to adorn their walls with art from the now nationally renowned artist who had assisted in bringing healing to their community.
Shane’s passion to continue to create meaningful works of art that are capable of stirring the emotions of those who see them inspired him to create the Hope Through Art Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps bring awareness to a number of impactful causes, including human trafficking awareness, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), to name a few.
Throughout his years of acquired experience, Shane has become a talented and ambitious multidisciplinary artist who is passionate about creating art that touches people’s hearts and lives in such a way that impacts the world and makes it a better, brighter, bolder, more beautiful place to be.