This, that, and also, etc… showcases my recent work, enthusiasms & appreciations.
By trade I work as a commercial artist and advertising executive. 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.
Until 2017 I served as the Executive Creative Director at Brownstein Group, an advertising agency in Philadelphia.
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.
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.
Top: Aboard the bridge of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) Bottom: on the grounds of the Frank Frazetta Museum & Estate, East Stroudsburg, PA
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
Pleasure can be radical. In a divided culture, being undivided and synthesizing and connecting across broad areas can be an act of resistance, just as being slow—as in doing things deliberately — walking or biking or cooking from scratch or gardening or sitting around and swapping stories, not being dilatory or sluggish — in a sped-up culture is an act of resistance akin to the work slowdowns that were one form of factory strike.
— Rebecca Solnit
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
And how she gave me life
— 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
Ten Trade Artists
Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
Mezzanine, Nicholson Baker
Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
Rabbit, Run, John Updike
Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel
The Bloody Chamber, Angela Carter
High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
Slow Days Fast Company, Eve Babitz
Songs From The Stars, Norm Spinrad
Watchmen, Alan Moore
À Rebours, Joris-Karl Huysmans
Flashman, George McDonald Fraser
Mars Saga, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Gold Bug Variations, Richard Powers
Orphan Masters Son, Adam Johnson
Fifteen Critics & Essayists
Pauline KaelTen Bands*
Stew & the Negro Problem
Guided by Voices
Ten More Bands
Men Without Hats
Mary Timony/Ex Hex/Helium
Thin White Rope
Lee “Scratch” Perry
Call of the West, Wall of Voodoo
Expressions, Music Go Music
The Snow Goose: Camel
Message From The Country, the Move
Permanent Waves, Rush
Comfort To Me, Amyl & the Sniffers
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
Pros/Cons of Hitchhiking, R. Waters
Baby Sign Here, Henry Badowski
Hazy Shade of Winter, Bangles
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
Everything Everywhere All at Once
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
© MMXXIII — MMXIV