We had the good fortune of connecting with Patrick Shearn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Patrick, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
Stemming from many experiences in my upbringing and youth, I have found that saying yes to opportunities has been a fundamental force in my growth and success. I had amazing familial encouragement combined with many unusual opportunities. I had a safety net that allowed me to lean out into the winds of possibility, so I did, with a sense of confidence and trust. Physically, I learned what a human is capable of in terms of strength, endurance, and comfort. Later, challenges that seemed daunting were not that cold, that hard, or that steep. I often found myself being offered positions of responsibility far beyond what my age or experience level might have warranted. Knowing no better, I said yes, and took what was presented as normal. I often choose the new experiences or adventures to be had over money or security. Through this evolving process I learned a wide variety of skills that, while wildly disparate, would later strongly enhance my problem solving ability and creative ingenuity. I often find myself combining memories from various situations in the past to create new creative solutions within my art practice. This has given me confidence in my problem solving ability. Even in situations where I do not completely see the path to success, I trust my instincts, and the team I surround myself with, to figure it out. The more these opportunities present themselves, the stronger this capability becomes. I have learned to embrace these moments and say yes whenever I can.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an LA-based artist specializing in larger-than-life, immersive public art installations. My signature kinetic sculptures, called Skynets, earned me international renown after the debut of “Liquid Shard” enamored the city of Los Angeles in 2016 at Pershing Square. The installation transformed the underused space in the heart of downtown into a bustling destination overnight. I have since brought Skynet installations to various locations in the U.S. and abroad where viewers are invariably compelled to slow down and take time to follow the undulating movement of the artworks, which appear to hang in thin air. My expertise in animatronics, robotics and visual effects–gleaned from a 30-year tenure in the film industry as a creature maker and visual effects supervisor–has lent traction to a prolific career as chief creative officer for my studio Poetic Kinetics. Poetic Kinetics has designed, fabricated, and implemented a wide range of projects that encourage audience participation–from interactive projection mapping and pyrotechnics to enormous mobile sculptures. Notably, Poetic Kinetics’ projects both engage the immediate public through interactivity and reach viral notoriety on social media. The path to this place in my career has been a wonderful wild ride. Certainly there have been many challenges and lost sleep, but even then, I was caught up in the the magic of what we were creating. I have learned to dream bigger than people can imagine and then if forced to reduce the scale and scope for whatever reason, we are still operating beyond the range of anyone’s expectations. I pride myself to work creatively within limitations and constraints. I embrace collaboration with others believing that the best ideas surface through the percolation of many ideas being tested against each other. I surround myself with the smartest and most skilled people I can find. I often find my leadership is best applied by sourcing and pushing the possibility of the dream without micromanaging the details: allowing those on my team to shine and feel a true sense of ownership in what we create.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live and work at The Brewery near downtown. It is the world’s largest live-work artist colony and home to an amazing variety of creative artists of all kinds. Immersed as I am in the creative community, most of my haunts pre-covid were underground pop up situations. Creative guerrilla get-togethers created for our community. Experiences like the Renegade Drive-in Movie Theater (with a generator in a van we projected The Terminator under the actual bridge downtown where Schwarzenegger appeared in the glowing ball of plasma in the film) or a costume inspired flash-mob dance rave experience. Los Angeles has changed so much in the 20 years I have lived downtown and these experiences are harder to launch but they are so worth it if you can find the right subterranean level of society willing to explore what is possible.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mother, an artist herself, viewed the artistic process as critical while the final result was less important. As a result, in our household we were always creating. Sometimes our drawings would end up on the fridge, sometimes in the trash. It didn’t matter, the act of creating was the point, the sustenance. As a result, I developed a confidence in my creative capability and I am able to separate my sense of self from the results of my art practice. I am unafraid of others’ ideas and I welcome collaboration. This has served me well in my artistic career.
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