Artist Case Study: Charles Shearer

A close family friend and talented artist Charles Shearer (1956 – pres.) is known for producing unique prints with his amazing talent in all print areas, especially mono-printing. As well as producing work for exhibitions and a few book cover commissions, Shearer also attends schools and colleges to teach students how to create successful prints in both composition and methodology.

Below is the type of work he is most well known for, with lots of juxtaposing textures and imaginative narratives throughout. To my knowledge, Shearer does not currently run a dedicated blog or website and good quality photos of his prints are sparse, therefore many of the photos below are of pieces hung up in my own home in Jersey. Due to our family’s long friendship with the artist – my mother met him when studying at art college – we are fortunate enough to receive a handmade print from him almost every Christmas, of which are often unique.

He has had a few book cover commissions for the publishers Jonathon Cape, John Murray and Faber & Faber.

One of the pieces gifted to my family is this mono-print [Fig. 4], which was part of his progress artwork for a commission for the book cover of George Mackay Brown’s novel ‘Beside the Ocean of Time’, [Fig. 5]. An added challenge with printing is that the final artwork will be the reverse of the original mono-print, which makes allowing space for features such as typography barcodes etc. an even more careful consideration.

As well as the full wraparound design, Shearer also used his own hand-rendered typography, ‘I wasn’t going to be paid anything more for doing it but I wanted the challenge the satisfaction in doing it to my best ability’, (Shearer, 2016)¹.

On the topic of fees, I was surprised to hear that, I don’t recall signing any formal contract with any publisher’, (Shearer, 2016)¹. I assume this is unusual as I haven’t heard of this before, although as freelancing isn’t Shearer’s main source of income – he is often busy   lecturing or running workshops at schools and colleges – this perhaps isn’t a concern as he works with only a few people he knows personally. He was able to tell me, ‘My last cover for Faber paid I thought a generous £950’ with ‘no royalities sold’ (Shearer, 2016)¹.

He also has produced various drawings and paintings, which are much looser than his prints yet still achieve a similar sense of brooding atmosphere – definitely something I need to work more into my own work.

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