WMC artist focus Shannon Jahnel Lanktree

Our feature artist for this month is Shannon Jahnel Lanktree, a Brazilian born Kiwi who now resides in Auckland. 


Shannon was intent on becoming an artist at an early age, and even received pocket money from her grandparents in return for her creations, which included hand-drawn manga comics. 


Watch this short video for an insight into Shannon’s work and inspiration and keep reading to discover more about her creative process and favourite projects. 


Watermark Artist: Shannon Jahnel Lanktree from Watermark Creative on Vimeo.


Crazy for the cute and the curious

You’ll notice a lot of cute, curious and surreal characters popping up in Shannon’s work – adorable hybrid creatures have been a passion for Shannon from early on.


‘I loved Pokemon and Digimon as a kid,’ says Shannon. ‘I was intrigued by the way that they mixed and matched parts of different animals with plants and humanoids to create really unique expressions.’


Shannon says that this type of surreal character development always interested her far more than being able to draw a portrait accurately, and she’s still hooked on crafting critter mash-ups.


Design process

When asked about her artistic process, Shannon likes to tackle each one based on its particular requirements, however she has developed a bit of a technique for character development.


‘I tend to start my character design process with sketches on paper because it’s quick, asymmetrical, and gets your brain working. If a project requires a storyboard, I still like to draw my ideas on paper first so that I’m not too precious about what I’m doing.’


Content that sparks emotion

No matter what type of project Shannon’s working on, her main focus is to create something that people respond to.


‘Whether it’s emotional or physical, if I’ve made people smile, laugh, play or step out of their comfort zone, then I think I’ve done my job.’


Shannon loves creating interactive experiences and she’s especially passionate about spatial installations and  interventions using common objects and the environment as content and backdrops.


Favourite portfolio pieces

Starship Magic Forest and Animal Check Ups interactive experiences

Starship Hospital is a dedicated paediatric healthcare service and teaching hub that provides family centred care to children and young people throughout New Zealand and the South Pacific. As part of the $1M Emergency Department assessment and waiting area upgrade, we were briefed to create two new interactive spaces with partner Rush Digital. 


Part of the Starship Children’s Hospital ‘animal check-ups’ wall


Shannon says this is one of her favourite projects to date, and one that she’s extremely proud of because of the amount of love and personal investment that went into it. 


‘It ticked all the boxes for me,’ says Shannon. ‘It was designed for a good cause. It was created to help both kids and parents to feel calm, and familiarise them with the tests and procedures they may face at the hospital. The project involved creative problem solving, user testing, and a lot of human-centred design thinking.’


Find out more about this project on our portfolio page:  https://watermarkcreative.co/portfolio-item/starship-childrens-hospital-creating-better-experiences/


Let’s Go Surfing Instead

‘This project was part of my end of year exhibition at Uni, where I was studying graphic design,’ says Shannon. ‘I was very interested in street art and public interventions, miniature worlds and disrupting the environment. I wanted to create something truly unique that would turn heads. So, I created a skatepark, on a skateboard, in a skatepark.’


About a year later while living in Wellington, Shannon’s skateboard was exhibited in the Manky Chops gallery skateboard exhibition. 


‘I was really happy when I heard that the skateboard had sold, and even happier to find out that it was purchased by a man in a wheelchair, who bought the artwork because he noticed the little wheelchair symbol I had painted on one of the carparks. It’s amazing that such a small detail allowed someone to be able to relate to the work in such a way.’


Animations for Reach


Our final image is an animation for Reach, a 12 week program that helps people who have been on a sickness or injury benefit get back into the workforce. 


‘It was a real challenge to come up with different ways in which we could represent emotional and physical barriers,’ says Shannon. ‘We also had to be careful that we didn’t represent anyone directly, or use humour in a way that would be seen as disrespectful or misinterpreted, or make viewers feel like they were being preached to, or misunderstood, or patronised.’

‘I loved this job because of its intention – I was able to use my character design, illustration, storytelling and animation skills for a good cause. It was a real challenge to come up with a narrative whilst being aware of all the elements we had to consider, but I think that really pushed the animation into the space where it needed to be.’


Read more about this project at https://watermarkcreative.co/portfolio-item/reach-awareness-campaign/


You can view more of Shannon’s work on her Instagram account @syrupsprinkles