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Exploring the Wild: A Conversation with Shelly Perkins

Shelly Perkins - Wildlife Illustrator and Founder of The Artists' Gallery



Illustration of foxes and deer running between birch trees

Meet Shelly Perkins, the talented artist behind Shelly Perkins Wildlife Art. While her business name suggests a focus on wildlife, Shelly's creative range extends to encompass town and landscape scenes as well. In this exclusive interview, she shares insights into her artistic journey, inspiration, and daily routines.


How did you start your artistic journey?

I followed a fairly classic art education route from GCSE Art, A Level, then onto an art foundation course and finally my degree in Illustration at UWE Bristol. My love for wildlife and exploring-the-wild-a-conversation-with-shelly-perkinsnature from an early age has honed my work towards the wildlife theme.


How long have you been creating?

I've been working as a creative since completing my degree in 2007.


Did you pursue any specific courses or qualifications?

My journey includes the standard art education path mentioned earlier.



lillustration of a fox with autumn leaves blowing around them

Shelly's journey has been one of continuous exploration and growth. From her educational background to her experiences traveling and observing wildlife, each step has shaped her unique artistic voice.


Where do you draw inspiration from?

My work is inspired by my love of wildlife and wild places. It ranges from the landscapes of rural Britain to more exotic locations like Antarctica and Africa, where I've been fortunate enough to travel.


What's your preferred medium?

Field studies with sketchbook and camera lay the foundation for my work. In the studio, I use a mix of traditional drawing and painting coupled with modern digital collage techniques.


Do you have a favourite subject to represent?

My favourite subject tends to be wildlife or landscapes influenced by recent adventures.


Where do you work?

I have a small studio at home where I create.


Have there been any significant turning points in your career?

One of the most influential phases was my artist residency in Antarctica with the Royal Navy. It propelled my work into the travel art scene, leading to more opportunities for talks, exhibitions, and travels.


Illustration of the antarctic with a pod of whales

Any highlights or disasters?

Traveling to new regions is always a highlight. Receiving recognition through lectures and exhibitions has been rewarding. But like many artists, I've also faced rejections, which are part of the freelancing journey.


What do you listen to while you work?

I enjoy listening to audiobooks and YouTube videos about travel destinations, gaining insights and inspiration.


What's your preferred working time?

I start my creative work late morning after handling admin tasks, sometimes working late into the night.


Do you have a daily routine?

No fixed routine for me—I enjoy the variety and flexibility.


What would your ideal creative day look like?

Waking up before dawn in Africa, spending the day observing wildlife, sketching, and photographing—perhaps encountering a leopard or two!


What's in your mug when you're working?

English breakfast tea with oat milk—I try to cut out dairy and animal products as much as I can.


Do you have a favourite snack?

Peanut butter and apple when I'm feeling sensible, but I also love a bag of crisps!


What gave you the idea to open The Artists' Gallery?

I suppose wanting to have a more permanent showcase for my work, but alongside other creatives so there was a bit of a community and support network for us to all work in.


Where can we find more of your work?

Explore Shelly's creations on Instagram and her website - or you can pop into The Artists' Gallery to view in person!



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