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Meet Shelby Maiden

Shelby Maiden says ETSU has given her a future she’s excited about. The Campbell County, Tennessee, native walked across the stage at Spring Commencement earlier this month, receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design with a minor in English literature. As a Fine and Performing Arts Scholar, Shelby took advantage of study abroad and research opportunities made available through the Honors College. She was named student of the year for graphic design and will move to London in the fall to attend The Courtauld Institute of Art to pursue her passion to study art history with the goal of eventually working in a museum.

Did you come to ETSU knowing you wanted to study graphic design?

My high school didn’t have a lot of art offerings, so I initially started doing graphic design as a way to still do art and convince my parents that I would be able to get a job. Once I took my first couple classes I fell in love with it because you can incorporate all the tactile elements of traditional art on a computer screen, making it the best of both worlds. Whenever I started doing package design, I fell in love with it even more.

You had the opportunity to study abroad twice. Where did you go?

I went to London for two weeks the summer after my freshman year. The entire trip we visited museums, and when I walked into the first one, I thought, “This is it.” This is what I need to do. That type of environment is something that I fell in love with. That was the first step where I saw something that could be a potential career for me.  Shelby Maiden

Later, I spent a full semester, six months, in Manchester, which deepened my love for London and made me want to go back there for graduate school even more.

I appreciate ETSU for giving me the opportunities I’ve had because traveling abroad helped me solidify my dream of working in a museum and in an art history environment. I wouldn’t have known any of that without those initial forays into art history.

Do you plan to return to London?

I plan to get a master’s degree in art history from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, which is a school I never dreamed I would have gotten into. It’s a nine-month program that begins in October and will focus on art history and restoration. I’m already excited to write another thesis. And where it’s located, I will be near all the museums, which I’m so excited about!

What was the theme of your final show and honors thesis?

I called them both “The Commodity Club.” Each focuses on the interplays and connections that exist between modern and contemporary fine art and old school Sailor Jerry Americana tattoos. The last time I was in London I got my first tattoo, and it was art-history themed, of course. I got the hand details of Michelangelo’s “divine touch,” and it made me think about how people think that you gain access to this special kind of club if you buy an expensive painting or get a tattoo – you elevate yourself somehow. It was really fun to explore.

My exit show was a series of flat sheets like what you see when walk into a tattoo shop. I took modern contemporary pieces of art and did them in a very old sailor Jerry style with bold colors and outlines. I tend to be a very research-based artist, so my written thesis provided all the backstory for the flat sheets. I presented my research at the Boland Undergraduate Research Symposium, and it was nice to be able to explain my thought process and start some intriguing conversations.

How do you think ETSU will impact your future?

ETSU has given me a future I’m excited about. Getting my B.F.A. gave me opportunities to explore and take all those art history and book-making classes that I really loved. It’s really set me up to do what I love and has given me a wider range of skills that I will be able to apply to everything I want to do in the future. I’m really excited to step forward with the solid background I’ve gotten here.

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