This, that, and also, etc… showcases my recent work, enthusiasms & appreciations.
By trade I work as a commercial artist. I run a small operation called Universal Exports of North America, working in close partnership with clients on matters of aesthetics, strategy & management. It’s also an occasional publishing imprint & will undertake sporadic retail activity. Open by appointment or by chance.
Artwise, I work in gouache, watercolor, and graphite. Frequent collage work. Occasional photography. In general, the work is informed by some ratio of representational painting, purposeful abstraction, timeworn glamour & faded technology, spiked with pulp & swirled with melodrama.
Until recently I served as the Executive Creative Director at Brownstein Group, an advertising agency in Philadelphia.
As far as backstory goes — Grew up in Niskayuna, a suburb of Albany, New York. In 1993 I left the University of Pennsylvania with an architecture degree & minors in art history and creative writing. While there I served as the Art Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian & 34th Street.
I spent the mid ‘90s out in Los Angeles working amongst the collapsing scenery of the pre-Napster music business. I started out as Barry Manilow’s one-man art department, working for his management company, Stiletto Entertainment. It was an exhilarating gig that basically served as my apprenticeship — retouching, design, photo shoots, prepress, the emergence of the web as a medium, media buying, events, etc…
In 1997 I struck out on my own, founding the Daniel Shepelavy Design Company. Around the same time some comrades and I formed The Telegraph Company, a record label, publisher & distributor. We migrated East around 1998 and settled in Brooklyn. We put out a passel of ace records, published a few books, tried to get some movies made, & generally had a blast — just as it dawned on our audience that they could download just about everything for free. By the millennium we, and the biz as we knew it, were done.
In 2001, drawn by romance & affinity, I moved to Philadelphia. I packed up any designs that I had done that were punky, risque or louche and FedEx’d them to Gyro Worldwide (now Quaker City Mercantile) – the anarcho-syndicate agency home of Puma, Kamel, Salem & Winston cigarettes, Sailor Jerry Rum, Bikini Bandits & Delilah’s Den of accomplished ecdysiasts. A week later I was working in advertising.
With Telegraph folded, I made good on a long standing desire to start painting again. In 2003 I studied for a few months with the preposterously gifted painter & educator Al Gury, then the head of the Painting Department of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Also I began working through a series of textbooks published by the Famous Artists School in the 60’s. Many of the great commercial illustrators – Rockwell, Bob McGinnis, Bob Peak, Al Parker – were on the faculty. It was basically correspondence course for artists looking to learn the commercial pulp/magazine style of illustration in its heyday.
Back in advertising, in 2004 I left Gyro to join an upstart agency called 160over90. There I worked as a creative director for American Eagle Outfitters, Nina Shoes, Loyola University Maryland, Sony Pictures Entertainment, AND1, Nike & SoBe Beverages. While there I helped establish thier now nationally recognized higher education advertising practice.
In 2009 I carved out this modest little lagoon online & set to transmitting. I tumbled into pretty steady blogging for a fat 3 years or so. That led to tumbles & tweets, flattering re-blogs, getting picked up briefly by Another Magazine, corresponded & hat-tipped with some fascinating cats. Some interest in my illustration even led to tryouts to provide product paintings to the legendary J. Peterman catalog. Close, but not quite.
In late 2009, the writing here led to a relationship with the newly published Uppercase Magazine — “A magazine for the creative and curious.” It reads like a conversation between folk riffing with ardent enthusiasm about whatever fab things they’ve drawn, thought, photographed, collected, discovered, etc. No lofty curatorial snobbishness or hipster veneration – just a democratic spirit & a celebration of beautiful things. I got to write about Glenn Gould’s crush on Petula Clark, 40 years of synthetic fabric advertising, shaving, baton diagrams, staging UFO pictures & romance novel cover art in the 70’s. Those articles and more are collected here, if you’re curious. The whole Uppercase venture, gallery, books, blog etc… seem of all of a piece. Well worth it. Explore here.
In 2010 I left to become the Executive Creative Director at Brownstein Group. The shop is Philadelphia’s oldest independent, now on its 54th year. I oversaw an absolutely ace studio, where our clients included IKEA, Western Union, Ebay, & Wawa.
In March of 2017 I formed Universal Exports of North America, a small, independent concern under which I consolidated all of my motley commercial & aesthetic endeavors.
A while back I gave an interview opining about advertising and such stuff… It features some of my agency work, shout outs to my Telegraph days, Philly ad folk & illustration cats, & some old heads I crewed with at the old pirate ship down the street. On the site I’m in some ridiculously prime company, with folk from Saatchi, Leo Burnett, Droga5, etc… Flattered to be asked and hope it provides a few minutes of satisfying diversion. Enjoy. Read it here, then
Some Pocket Manifestos
I must go to Nature disarmed of perspective and stretch myself like a large transparent canvas upon her in the hope that, my submission being perfect, the imprint of a beautiful and useful truth would be taken… enraptured by a gallant attempt to distill a precious meaning from life’s experience – to make a spot on a globe a window into universal circumstance, & to fashion of one’s personal chronic tourism a crystal whose facts reflect an entire life…
— John Updike
After all, the best pop functions as a liberation even when it’s formally received – it celebrates a formula in ways that are audible and infectious.
— Robert Christgau
Some velvet mornin’ when I’m straight
I’m gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you ‘bout Phaedra
— Lee Hazlewood
The world is beautiful before it is true.
— Gaston Bachelard
An Index of AcesTwenty Artists
Gian Lorenzo Bernini
William Merrit Chase
John Singer Sargent
Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Mezzanine, Nicholson Baker
Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
Gold Bug Variations, Richard Powers
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
Slow Days Fast Company, Eve Babitz
Orphan Masters Son, Adam Johnson
Watchmen, Alan Moore
Our Man in Havana, Graham Greene
Flashman, George McDonald Fraser
Carter Brown, various pulp series
Fifteen Critics & Essayists
Stew & the Negro Problem
Ten More Bands
Guided by Voices
Men Without Hats
Thin White Rope
Call of the West, Wall of Voodoo
Expressions, Music Go Music
Mondo Morricone: The Trilogy
Message to The Country, the Move
Permanent Waves, Rush
Pros/Cons of Hitchhiking, R. Waters
Red, King Crimson
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Quadrophenia, the Who
Streethawk —A Seduction, Destroyer
Lyres Lyres, Lyres
The Cars, The Cars
Too Much Sleep, Bongwater
Bat Outta Hell, Meatloaf
Baby Sign Here, Henry Badowski
Crashland Consequence, Ric Ocasek
Down in the Park, Gary Numan
Find Another Fool, Quarterflash
Golden Boys, Vagina Dentata
Ha Ha Ha, Flipper
Kids In America, Kim Wilde
Never Been Any Reason, Head East
No More Heroes, Stranglers
O Superman, Laurie Anderson
Proper Ornaments, Free Design
Public Image, Public Image Ltd.
Radar Love, Golden Earring
Sat. Nite Holocaust, Dead Kennedys
Sirens of Titan, Al Stewart
Smoke & Mirrors, Evelyn
Sodium Pentathol Negative, Fashion
Total Eclipse, Klaus Nomi
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Gates of Heaven
Lives of Others
In like Flint
How to Steal a Million
Rikki Tiiki Tavi (short)
Shot In the Dark
Thomas Crown Affair (remake)
* in order of preference, all others alphabetical
Dan Shepelavy can be reached at
~ email@example.com ~
Self-published in fashionable
East Passyunk, Philadelphia, Penna.
Programming by Cristian Rivera
Hosted by proxy in lord knows where
To conclude with
Science Fiction Double Feature
~ in full chorus ~
NO MONEY RETURN’D
© MMXV — MMXIV