Artfully disrupting LA’s ad space: Q&A with The Billboard Creative contest-winner Photography student Shannon Rose

Current Photography student Shannon Rose's Billboard Creative contest-winning image

Current Photography student Shannon Rose’s Billboard Creative contest-winning image

As screen-dwelling denizens of the Digital Age, our visual landscape has become increasingly cluttered with advertisements. Big and small, overt and implicit, our world online and off is increasingly filled with various forms of marketing—obvious and imperceptible, implicit and explicit, loud and quiet, artful and otherwise. And living in LA, home to Sunset Boulevard and some of the most iconic billboards in the world, raises the ad-saturation level significantly. But relief is in sight, both literally and figuratively, thanks to current Photography student Shannon Rose, whose image was chosen for one of thirty-three coveted slots in Billboard Creative’s contest calling for artists to submit work to occupy LA’s abandoned billboards.

The Dotted Line recently caught up with Rose, who took time out from the fourteen-hour days she’s been putting in on another freelance assignment to answer a few questions about her creative process and thoughts on the role of public art can play as an antidote to advertising overload.

Billboard featuring work by Shannon Rose

Billboard featuring work by Shannon Rose

How did you find out about The Billboard Creative’s contest and what appealed to you about the concept of creating public art on billboards? 

The Photo department director announced that there open call for submissions for a non-profit organization offering an opportunity to have work displayed on a billboard somewhere in the LA area. I thought she must have been kidding at first but was immediately interested and eager to submit work.

Describe your creative process of developing your concept and why you chose the image you did? 

I had an assignment in class that led me to consider the banality of routine and decided to shoot a plate of breakfast to represent something ordinary or everyday, while contrasting it against something unexpected or unusual. I chose to paint the entire breakfast spread in a single color as a way to reduce the objects, providing a take on the banality of their color against one another. Plus, spray painting eggs and bacon sounded like fun so I experimented a lot and went with it. I submitted this particular photograph because I thought the image might translate through the medium of the billboard itself, commenting directly on the notion of a banal setting, being easily recognizable but still unexpectedly off.

What are some examples public art that have inspired you creatively and positively impacted your daily life? 

From street art and anonymous installations to outdoor murals and community backed projects, I’m constantly inspired by public art and artists’ willingness to share their craft and ideas on a platform that allows access to everyone, omitting the context of conventional gallery spaces. I feel public art has the ability to bring communities together and provide a different perspective to its viewers, encouraging art and collaboration in a way that other art venues seem to overlook.

What significance does that location have for you personally — didn’t you grow up around there? 

I was explaining to Mona Kuhn, artist and curator of the show, that some of the my first film rolls were shot in the same location that my billboard happens to be and how completely surreal and thrilling it was to see my work in a spot I’ve casually passed by for so many years.

What type of creative work do you hope to do when you leave ArtCenter? 

The kind that allows me to cover nearly two hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt.

How does this project help you realize those goals?

I’m incredibly honored and grateful for the opportunity to share my work with my community in a medium so evidently a part of the Los Angeles landscape. I really believe in and support the mission behind The Billboard Creative, bringing work from a diverse group of artists to a large-scale public setting in place of the usual advertisements and media we’re subjected to on a daily basis. As a student, being able to contribute to this unique public gallery alongside artists that I’ve studied, respect and admire is an opportunity I couldn’t be more excited for and appreciative of.


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