Compare and Recycle

Shaun The Sheep Art Trail: Behind the Scenes Interview with the Artist

If you caught up on our previous blog, you will already know that we are supporting Heart Of Kent Hospice by sponsoring the Shaun the Sheep In the Heart of Kent coming to Maidstone in the summer of 2024! We are excited to join other local communities and businesses in supporting the cause and be part of this fantastic art trail running for the second time in Maidstone. 

As part of this fantastic initiative, we have teamed up with artist Traci Moss who will bring our Shaun sculpture to life with her incredible creative skills. So it’s only right that we sat down with Traci to get to know more about herself and her career as an artist. It’s safe to say that she has various experiences that have guided her inspiration over the years and we learned so much about her and were even close to spilling the beans about the design of our Shaun…

Interview with the artist Traci Moss

Q: Where did your journey as an artist begin?

"I went to art college and then I began travelling for years and years. I started off in Europe and then went to India. I came back, worked a lot of part time jobs, still doing little art commissions here, there and everywhere. I didn't do my degree in fine art until, gosh, about 2011. Whilst also working full time at the same time, but that was fantastic.  I've been teaching with the plan to get my PGCE and carry on because I'd been in private schooling, but once I got through my degree and also took night classes to get my PGCE I decided I didn't want to teach anymore! I just want to keep on doing my arty stuff and being self-employed. So literally my background is teaching children and adults, and workshops and the artsy thing didn't start happening until about 2006 when I painted my first sculpture. But once I did one, I was hooked. You can't go back."

Q: So interesting! I can imagine a lot of your travels have influenced your work and inspire you?

"Hugely, absolutely, very much so.

The longest place I've been in was South America and I was totally inspired by the colour of the patterns and the people and I’m still inspired.  People, colours, places, children's art and the way they see things before they get to big school, where some possibly grotty art teacher might go - “No! You don't do it like that.” I love the process before the overthinking and the beauty, the innocence and ideas that kids come up with, like big potato heads with three arms and sideways noses!"

Q: Based on that, what would you say is the message of your art or is it random?

"It's a very, very, private and personal message from the person who requested it. I make something for them, but the message from me is very typically “Just enjoy!”. Don't overthink, just be happy, be kind. But it's not just that, it's “Everything's gonna be alright. It's OK.” And yes, smile. There’s not always a deep, deep, deep, message."

Q: So is this your first project with the Heart of Kent Hospice?

"No, I think it was 2021 where I painted Elmer for the Elmer Trail, and that was absolutely marvellous. It was my first experience of doing Elmers."

Q: As a child, did you watch Shaun the Sheep?

"Well, I'm old, older than Shaun the Sheep put it that way. However, I have been a super fan, you know, from the minute I first ever saw Shaun the Sheep. So I’m thrilled that I finally got to make one."

Q: In terms of the process, have you started painting Shaun already?

"I had started the painting process by blocking in all the under colours. I hope that's cryptic enough. Of course after having washed and prepared it. Although it's quite a limited colour palette that's being used, there're a lot of base colours before the detail goes on. It’s spray paint and acrylics, it's a mixture of the two, so it's going to be great.

I probably work on it for around four or five hours a day and then other jobs in between. It takes me a silly amount of time compared to some artists that get it done in the day. I indulge and enjoy it, every little bit of it."

Q: The last trail was Elmer the Elephant, and the Hospice shared that the trail was visited by 260,000 people. So because Shaun the Sheep is so iconic, do you think we can double that statistic?

"Ohh yes, definitely, double the visitors. And if everybody tells everybody, and everybody shares it on social media, then more people see it. I mean, it is not just kids that love it and there's also an app that people will be able to download. Plus, I think of all the steps people can do while they're walking around, it’s good for your health as well."

Q: That's actually one of the reasons we got involved. On average, a person spends 152,000 minutes a year on their screens. That's 52 days, non-stop. It’s disheartening to see young children on mobile phones, laptops, tablets all day as opposed to spending time outside. It's a very good cause to get on board with, push the message to get outdoors, progress through the trail and find all the sculptures dotted around Maidstone.

"Absolutely, while you're looking at sculptures, another person might also be looking at it, which leads you to actually talk to somebody you've never spoken to before in real life, not through a screen. It can evolve into, you know, waving at people who go past because everybody's enjoying the interaction. It's definitely healthy not just for your body, but your mind as well."

Q: What made you want to get involved in Shaun the Sheep in the Heart of Kent campaign?

"Well, it’s a wonderful, wonderful Hospice, for a start. Getting to paint on a 3D sculpture canvas, knowing that the artwork will then be auctioned to raise funds for the Hospice is fantastic. So yeah, that ticks every single one of my boxes you know. If I could purely just paint things for auction that go to charity, I would do that over and above, you know, the stuff I do to pay my bills. Basically it makes me happy. I love that."

Q: Obviously with this question we can't go too much into without giving a lot away, but what was your inspiration behind the design for Shaun the Sheep?

"Fun! I wanted my design to pop. I wanted it to just make people smile. It's a design that everybody can enjoy. Regardless of your taste, I think."

Q: What do you think people's impressions will be when the trail first goes live?

"Well, the trail, you know, everybody's gonna absolutely love it. It's Shaun the Sheep. You know him well, and everyone young and old does too. They're all gonna absolutely love it, and my design. I think it's funny and it makes me giggle every time. It might appear very simple, but when you get close to it, you'll see how intricate the details are. My fingers are already hurting."

Q: What are you looking forward to the most about the trail? Is it painting the design?

"You know what, I absolutely always enjoy it right from conception to sitting there thinking “Ohh, what can I do to the design, the tweaking”. Getting the scope to deliver, prepare, wash it and of course painting it. The whole process, all the way through to meeting people and to seeing them out on the trail through to auction.

Literally, I love the whole process, the whole researching and looking into Maidstone or seeing if there's anything about the design that I can tweak. I can't pinpoint the one thing, I just love it all, I really do. It will be worth it."

Q: And last question, if we were to go into your house and look in your drawers, how many old phones would we find?

"Right now, because I've just got a new phone, you would find one. But I recycle my phones and I always have, actually. Because I think it's mad to have them all sitting in a drawer, however you would find all sorts of other stuff in my drawer, because I am a magpie and a hoarder."

With the Shaun The Sheep in the Heart of Kent art trail right around the corner, we hope that getting to know Traci Moss through this interview set off your countdown to the art trail and you're planning a fun day trip to Maidstone. We can’t wait to reveal our fantastic Shaun design as well as the great experiences that will come with this incredible initiative!

If you would like to find out more about the Shaun The Sheep art trail, visit the official website or alternatively check out our previous blog that explains exactly what it is and why Compare and Recycle is part of it this year.


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