Profiles Feature: Shyguy. As I recently discovered, this artist isn’t a guy and her work sure isn’t shy! Her real name is Naomi Wallens and Shyguy is her alter ego which allows Naomi to push her creative boundaries. Aside from her street art escapades and wall art pieces, Naomi also makes a collection of fabulous fetish industrial lamps called Bad Asses. Her sizeable furniture pieces are quite spectacular in terms of size and visual impact. I caught up with Naomi to find out more about her Shyguy persona and how her art delves deep into her personal life.
Shyguy Works of Art
Meet Shyguy Who Is Naomi Wallens
Naomi tells me about her Shyguy alter ego, “I wanted a space where I could explore all my emotions and experiences. It’s a way to create pieces that meant something to me without being judged, advised or commented on which allows me to be truly brave and vulnerable. The name of Shyguy really appealed to me because my work isn’t always Shy! And I’m not a Guy either!”
Naomi’s art background is self-taught, she reveals “I didn’t follow a conventional route into art because I only studied the subject to A Level. I was lucky to grow up with an artistic family who have provided masses of inspiration. My Grandma was an artist and taught me to paint, make clothes and create things. She collected furniture which I have used in my art projects while grandad was a sign maker and furniture maker. My parents are great illustrators, my mum was heavily into fashion and music and this inspired me (I still wear her original clothes from the sixties and seventies). When my dad was a child he would make logos for print the old way with a huge lightbox, scalpel and tapes. You could say that the family trait is hoarding artefacts and curiosities, we like things that tell a story. You’ll see this reflected in my art, it’s where my main source of inspiration comes from.”
The Man of Simple Pleasures Bar
Schooling on the other hand with quite conventional with Naomi bagging herself a business qualification. She ventured into the corporate world until she decided it wasn’t for her. However, a job working for a toy maker was interesting because of the story she could imagine children conjuring up while playing with the toys. Naomi reveals, “I would spend hours as a kid making clothes for my dolls and living in different worlds with them and going on adventures. What I do now is tell stories of feelings and places that I’ve been in my life through art.” Although she doesn’t regret her studious days, Naomi’s heart hankered after a more creative and stimulating adventure.
Spanish 17th Century Confession Box
Naomi explains how art became the subject of her life “I started asking myself what it was that made me happy and connecting with my heart, it wasn’t really a choice, I just started painting again and doing the things that I enjoy. I had some difficulties during the period of my life prior to coming back into art so felt that I had a lot of things to explore and express within myself. I wanted to make a body of work that was for me, and me being the audience, if it is something that I would want to buy and feel connected to then I do it. I never set out to sell it or become an artist – that just evolved as I started to paint again.”
Lottie’s Society on the Street
Street art was her outlet, “I started painting the streets and I felt that street and stencil art really allowed me to say all of the things that I wanted to say. Being in London and on the streets painting really inspired me and it felt very real and alive. I was lucky enough to meet Hutch, the street artist, who shared his stencil skills with me and gave me tons of encouragement. My street art gets personal like ‘Lottie’s Society’ which is about my daughter’s difficulties at school and how she overcame these by moving somewhere where she felt valued.”
Shyguy Art Work
Often the Shyguy wall art pieces are from those Naomi has painted using the original stencils from street art. She tells me, “the very first piece is in the collection today that I started with Hutch. It is called ‘Hilf Mir’ which began with a trip to Berlin where I was captured by Dmitri Vrubel’s ‘Fraternal Kiss’ graffiti painting on a remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. The painting depicts Leonid Brezhner and Erich Honecher in a Fraternal Embrace from Regi Bossu’s original photograph taken in 1979. It is inscribed in Russian and German with the words ‘My God, Help Me Survive This Deadly Love’. The ‘Smothering’ nature of the ‘Deadly Love’ connected with my life at the time and emotions that I was feeling in my personal life and I made my own interpretation of Bossu’s photograph. The piece is called ‘Hilf Mir’ (‘Help Me’ in German) and is inscribed with the German for ‘My God Help Me’ and the English ‘Breathe’ under the heart.”
Hilf Mir Art Work
I’m lucky enough to own a bespoke industrial light created by Shyguy which forms part of her aptly named Bad Asses collection. Here Naomi has made a 3D printed model of her own ass! It doesn’t get much more personal than that! She’s certainly had fun with bum-puns while creating this range and the witty words match up with the visual aspect. These are spray painted, stencilled or applied by free hand using graffiti lettering. They are then topped off with the appropriate shade, a caged bulb or accessory. If you’re easily offended don’t read on because I am going to list a few of those clever bum-puns here: Ass Hole has an image of the ultimate rude finger sign, Talking Out Your Arse features a book and Kiss My Arse has a pair of lips kissing the bum. These amazing lights are punky, fetish and funny. Staying on the bum theme, Naomi tells me that she’s working with very talented glass blowing artist who is blowing her arse out of neon glass!
Other bright ideas include Lightboxes which are taken from an original retro design and made from tin or steel. The images used on the front Perspex are a mix of original photography belonging to Naomi or music influences. Her neon work is inspired by the late Chris Bracey of Gods Own Junkyard fame. Naomi comments, “I find Neon alluring, interesting, sexy and naughty. I love using neon to add another dimension to the work I create.”
Bed Full of Cocks
If you’re after a piece of furniture art which tells a story, then you’ll love the ‘Bed Full of Cocks’ which started life as two twin beds bought by Naomi’s grandmother in an antique fair in the 1940’s. Naomi restored the beds and built a new bed frame to make an emperor sized bed. Another furniture piece is The Man of Simple Pleasures Bar which was recovered by her brother from a nightclub in London in the 90’s which he carried home on his back. Naomi reveals “I use the furniture as the bedrock for portraying my message, I often restore first, customise the piece in some way and add lighting or neon and hand paint each piece. In the current furniture collection, I have tables, chairs, dressers, bars, mirrors, beds, a pew and even a Spanish 17th century confession box!”
Buy Shyguy Art Work
For more information go to the Shyguy Website. To purchase pieces you can contact the office on firstname.lastname@example.org, call 07538 565545 or contact Beautiful Crime Gallery on email@example.com. If you want a closer inspection you can book a private appointment at the Clerkenwell Gallery which is in the downstairs of a converted pub where Naomi lives. To give you an idea about price points, the prints start at £175 and the pieces of art range from £800 to £20,000. If you’re interested in having something bespoke made like a Bad Asses light or a piece of furniture please contact Naomi for a price. She also rents out pieces for fashion, music and film projects.
Credits: Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Shyguy. Thanks: Naomi Wallens.