Shonagh was born in Dundee, Scotland. She studied at St Martins School of Art and The Royal College of Art. She works in a shed designed by her partner, an architect, at the bottom of her garden in London. Her representation with Heart started in 1998. Story has it that Darrel held Shonagh in a headlock until she agreed to join the agency.
Shonagh’s images are created from a range of mediums. Her artworks are underpinned by the strength of her drawing and photography, but these are literally masked and diffused by the use of texture created by rubbing, printing, painting, spraying… it’s is all self generated. Her self reliance also extends to modeling for her own artworks. Silhouettes of family and friends make regular appearances, directed by Shonagh to get exactly the right character and pose required.
The complexity of her process belies the striking impact of her illustrations and also the speed at which she works. Illustrating Gillian Tett’s weekly column in the Financial Times newspaper, has seen Shonagh cover a myriad of subjects all in a very short time frame. The New York Times and The Guardian also regularly commission her to cover contentious political or social topics such as accusations of espionage by the Syrian government, the isolation of infertility and climate change. A range of approaches has allowed for a diversity which includes quick-witted vignettes, succinct conceptual metaphors, poignant and thought provoking scenes as well as epic and architectural landscapes. Her work can be either exactingly to the point or more whimsical and open to interpretation, depending on what’s required of the brief. The transitional ability of her work has led to commissions on a large scale for Bacardi, Snickers and Natwest as well as sales brochures for high end hotels such as St Martin’s Lofts, book covers for sport non-fiction titles and corporate branding image libraries for Grant Thornton amongst others. Prints of her bum (clothed in jeans) have appeared in Levi’s window displays.
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Arup, American Institute of Architects, The Atlantic, Bacardi, Bostonia, Builder Magazine, Ebony, The Economist, The Electoral Commission, ESPN, Faber & Faber, The Guardian, Grant Thornton, Harper’s Magazine, Harvard Law Bulletin, Heineken, Johns Hopkins, Levi’s, Los Angeles Times, Natwest, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Penguin Books, Shire Pharmaceuticals, Smith Alumni Snickers, St Martin’s Hotel