Hollywood illustrator shares expertise with students

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AMINA SAMREEN SALAHUDDIN | ASSISTANT FEATURES EDITOR

April 30, 2014

Presenting Disney princesses, creating magical backdrops and putting together action sequences of ninja turtles is everyday work for Shawn McKelvey. McKelvey teaches Digital Art, Advanced Photoshop and Advanced Digital Media and Printing part time at Riverside City College, for the past three years.

“Teaching is a satisfying job because I get to see a student learn and progress from point A to point B,” said McKelvey.

Apart from teaching, McKelvey is a freelance illustrator and he runs his own digital media studio called Shawn Illustrations. Mckelvey has had many experiences of working for Walt Disney Studios where he did 40 billboard illustrations for the Disney World Resorts in Florida.

“I actually flew down to Florida to see my artwork displayed, and they were everywhere around the park and on buses on the roads, it felt good,” said McKelvey. The billboards were for Disney resort rides such as “Star Tours,” “Indiana Jones Adventure,” “The Dinosaur Ride” and others.

“Professional work is exciting, but teaching feels good,” McKelvey said.

McKelvey has developed his skills and talent along with advancement in technology over the years.

“Previously it was all traditional handwork air-brushed strokes and now it has all become digital and evolved with time,” he said.

McKelvey studied at the Arts Centre in Pasadena and has taught at various other colleges like Westwood College in Upland, ITT Technical Institute in San Diego and Platt College. Among some of his more well-known work includes doing the artwork for seven Harry Potter board games, the packaging for Matchbox vehicles and countless Disney Princess doll packages,

“I was among the initial artists who helped in developing and conceiving the characters for Harry Potter series for J.K. Rowling when the first movie was being made,” McKelvey said.

This experienced illustrator is popular among his students. Many of them enjoy his work on game boards. McKelvey also prepares his students for competing in the Riverside Film Festival and the RCC Animation Festival

“He is an amazing teacher and an artist and his artwork is amazing, especially the game boards,” said Ivan Figueroa, a student of McKelvey.

Mckelvey has illustrated for children’s books as well. Some of them are “Be the Bee,” “Timothy’s Tic” and several Disney books for Harper Collins. McKelvey also created background artwork for several seasons of “Scooby Doo Inc.” television series and did the artwork for “Toy Story 3” toy packaging.

He is a landscape illustrator as well and has competed in a variety of painting competitions in California and won two best of show awards. He also auctions his work online on eBay. He plans on teaching basic design classes this summer at RCC because he loves to teach and wants to help make his students experts in basic designing.