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City resident's business gamble pays off

Following his passion, one snapshot at a time

Taking a chance and following your dream can be unnerving and stressful, especially when it means leaving a job that provides financial stability.

But there are some people out there who would rather take the chance than spend their lives regretting the leap they never took. People like Paul Shannon, who left a longtime job at a downtown hotel to pursue his passion for photography.

"My work sort of evolved out of rediscovering my passions," he said. "Photography is definitely a passion, travel is an absolute passion . and I guess the third passion is artwork, and so I was able to put all these pieces together."

And the result was a small studio on Terminal Avenue in Vancouver, where Shannon first began creating and selling art installations and home décor. Murals and More Décor offers a collection of art pieces on a variety of materials. Clients include folks looking to add a splash of colour to their homes as well as commercial clients that hire Shannon to create art pieces for boardrooms, offices and other work spaces.

More than six years later, he's moved his studio into a much larger space off United Boulevard in Coquitlam. The move - motivated by Shannon's own move to New Westminster more than a year ago - hasn't put a damper on the popularity of his work, he said.

"The customer base that I have seems to come from all over the place, there's people in Coquitlam, there's people in Burnaby, there's people in New West, there's people in Surrey, there's people in Abbotsford, and of course, Vancouver. By being in New West it seems quite central for everybody," he said.

Shannon's glad the move worked out; he was a little worried at first but his clients have stuck with him.

Earlier this year, Shannon began selling a new creation, kitchen backsplashes. He said he's proud of the response the backsplashes have received.

Some of his past clients have even come back, this time for a backsplash to add a pop of colour to their kitchens.

The backsplashes are made on tempered glass, which is extremely durable, and according to Shannon "virtually unbreakable." The image is placed behind the glass, rather than on top of it, like his other pieces.

"You get this extra depth by looking through something," he said. "I'm really excited about the eo, glass."

Shannon credits his growth as artist to a type of evolution, one that moves him from material to material. He said he's constantly trying new ways of presenting his photographs.

"A lot of this stuff is sort of a natural migration for me and my development," he said. "I really like different materials . Sometimes it's shiny and smooth stuff, like the glass, (and) sometimes I like how an image plays with something that's more rustic, like the marble.

"You get a totally different feel to an image when it's on marble. It's rustic and old-world, as opposed to something that is smooth and shiny like the ceramic or the glass."

Shannon remains tight-lipped about the techniques he uses to apply the image to the material, but one thing he does admit is that his technique was something he developed after much time and experimentation.

"By using special pigments, that allows me to then infuse the image whether it's on marble, or ceramic, or glass, (or wood)," he said. "It's been a constant evolution over the years in terms of both my designs, the materials that I use and also the items that I create, the most recent being the backsplashes."

Much of the artwork he creates, be it backsplashes, coasters, or large canvas pieces, are inspired by the different places Shannon has travelled over the years.

The Ontario native has made multiple trips overseas, to countries such as Italy, Spain, Cambodia, Thailand, China and Japan.

"The number one inspiration for me is when I connect with the local people. It could just be sharing a smile, or it could be talking for an hour, but it's those experiences that somehow translates into my work," he said.

His excitement for travel is comparable to - if not slightly more - than his love of art.

During his interview with The Record, Shannon buzzed around his studio pointing out various pieces, from glasswork to wood panels, to coasters, and blended canvas images.

Each one has a story, he said, a story he couldn't wait to share.

"I like doing abstracts sometimes too and these are photo abstracts," he said, pointing at large photo of superimposed images from a recent trip to South East Asia. "I call it 'Discovery' and it was very much a trip of discovery. It was a trip to Cambodia and Myanmar and there's quite a few images in (the photo) that I've combined together to create the new piece."

But if clients have their own images they'd like to use for the art piece, Shannon said he's more than happy to accommodate them.

He's also proud to say that many of his pieces are less than $1,000, making it affordable for everyone to own a piece of artwork, he said.