Visionary artist Jeffery Shirley paints vibrantly passionate women in exotic worlds where fantasy meets reality and dreams vividly spring to life. His magical subjects include mermaids, fairies and mysterious cloaked women in fantastical landscapes. His fantastical biography below will take your breath away and provide understanding of his extraordinary, eclectic artistic vision.
Jeffery Shirley has been an artist all his life, starting with embroidery lessons from his grandmother when he was 3 and his first painting lesson at age 5. In his freshman year in high school a computer error put him in an advanced sculpting class instead of woodshop and by the time the office caught the error he had completed his first project, and he stayed. Clay was his first sculpting medium. Then he learned mold making and cement casting.
In his sophomore year he moved to Dana Point, California. He showed some of his sculptures to drawing and painting teacher Ernest Guerrero, who admitted him to his advanced class. Guerrero’s best advice to students was, “If it’s going to take 100 tries to get it right, then knock out that first 99 fast and get on to the good one!”
It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Jeffery learned ceramics, sculpting in stone, drawing, silk screening, art history and many methods of painting like tempera resist, wax engraving, acrylic and oil. Besides art he was in choir and musical comedy and he did sound, lights and set design for the drama department and he took all the science classes offered, particularly marine biology and natural history. He also took a college course his junior year to get his emergency medical license and was a trainer for the high school athletic department. His first job after high school was on an ambulance, but he found the academic side much more t his liking than practical application.
After high school Jeffery found art classes in community colleges a bit tedious because they required him to start with the basics he had learned in high school, so he traded babysitting for Guerrero’s kids for the use of his mentor’s home studio and private lessons. But Jeffery still took classes at community colleges to have access to the equipment, including a Raku kiln.
Over the next 10 years Jeffery continued to study with Ernie Guerrero, who had his Master’s of Art from Otis Art Institute. Jeffery continued to take classes at the community collages to use the equipment. He learned glass blowing and metal sculpting and took more painting and ceramics classes. He also studied creative writing, sewing, history and more sciences like geology, biology, neurophysiology and psychology. But his passion remained focused on art.
Printing and graphic design have always been a way to fund Jeffery’s many interests in the arts. He started working in printing in 1982 for The Dot Printer in Irvine, California. He earned journeyman status by 1988 and was shift lead of the prepress department’s night crew from 1992 until his departure in 2000. At that time there was a technical revolution – computers replaced film. Having studied desktop publishing for six years before, Jeffery was prepared. He helped The Dot Printer make the transition to digital printing and in 2000 he made the shift from production to design.
Jeffery started working at United Yellow Pages designing marketing materials. His first year there he became the first non-sales employee to win the President’s Choice award, an award that usually went to the top selling sales person. Over the years his section of the book grew to 56 pages in 65 books covering most of California. He was given the title Director of Marketing Research. He continued to receive the President’s Choice award every year for the remainder of his stay at United Yellow Pages.
Jeffery also volunteered to create a costume department for the University of Irvine. With a budget of $600 the first year, he costumed 40 actors for “The Marriage of Figaro.” The following year the budget trippled; he created costumes for three years and after his departure funding was found for a paid position and materials. For the next few years Jeffery created costumes for Renaissance Fairs and Pirate Festivals.
In November 2007 he moved to Yachats, bought a house, got married and has been pursuing his many interests while adding Pacific Digital Works to his resume where he works as a graphic designer. He also works on commission from his home in any of the fields listed above and is willing to learn anything not listed.