September Eco-Artist: Caiti Rose, Sharktopia
Sharktopia - Shark Guardian Interview Questions
Q1: Hi, Caiti – We’re thrilled to have you as our Eco Artist of the Month for September! Tell us a bit about yourself for those who are not familiar with your work.
Hi everyone! I’m a happy, vegan, coffee-loving, ocean artist! I do my best to use my art to alter the misconceptions surrounding sharks and other marine life. I create a lot of non-profit art and have had the pleasure of working alongside some amazing non-profits; such as Shark Guardian! There are 100+ free coloring and activity sheets on my website. Dive in and enjoy!
Q2. You started drawing at a very young age - tell us more about this and how art helped as therapy
I was born with Erb's Duchenne Palsy - nerve damage in the 5th and 6th vertebrae (spine). This caused me to be unable to use my right arm and right hand when I was born. Fortunately, when I turned one, my fingers moved for the first time. Part of my physical therapy included someone helping me hold a marker in my hand. Needless to say, the drawings of sharks showed up a few years later! When I say I've been drawing for as long as I can remember...I mean it! I loved drawing the moment it was introduced to me.
I still live with a damaged immune system (from birth) and will always have limited range of motion in my right arm, shoulder, wrist, etc., but I don't let that stop me from chasing my dreams. Never give up - just keep swimming!
Q3. When did your fascination with sharks start?
Sharks have been fascinating to me for as long as I can remember! I’m sure PBS contributed to my love of the Ocean and all its inhabitants. There always seemed to be a nature show or documentary available to watch while drawing. Additionally, the library was a fantastic go-to resource for art and animal books! I used to get stacks of books! Some of them were “how to draw” this or that, but many of them were just books about various animals that I would draw based on the photos. Some of my oldest ‘shark art’ is from when I was 6-7 years old (I’m 37 now!). I think some of the other influences I had came from the actual drawing books I loved. Ed Emberly had so many books and sharks were on at least a few of those pages. Mark Kistler was also a huge resource for me in the early 90s (PBS show “The Imagination Station”).
Q4. You started Sharktopia in 2014, tell us why you decided to create art for conservation and awareness purposes
Around 2013 I noticed that some of my shark art (which I had uploaded to social media) was receiving a really positive response. The primary response seemed to be that my illustrations and paintings reduced the fear a person had of sharks - and that it prompted them to actually look a little deeper. I had a woman message me that my sharks made her seek out a documentary to learn more about them! I turned 30 in September 2014 and everything just seemed to ‘click’. I was chatting with my friend Katie a few weeks after my birthday and decided to figure out what I could call my ‘shark art’. It was in that discussion that Sharktopia was born! The illustrations on the harsh topics such as shark finning, overfishing, plastic waste, etc just seemed to happen naturally within the first year or so.
Q5. You've had many collaborations with NGO's since 2014, this is how we became aware of you and your work. Your awesome free downloads feature so many important topics... Which topics are you most interested in and/or passionate about?
I’m so glad all of my coloring sheets are used by so many people! I’m grateful for all the collaborations with each non-profit (including Shark Guardian of course)! I think all of the harsh topics are extremely important. The more information we can put out there, the better. I have several coloring sheets about shark finning, shark byproducts within various products you can still buy in stores, plastic waste, ghost nets, etc. I would say I’m passionate about creating all forms of art. It’s all equally important to me; showing the good and the bad.
Q6. You're a scuba diver! Have you seen sharks whilst diving?
I’m a certified scuba diver - but have never gone scuba diving with sharks. I’ve had a couple experiences with sharks while snorkeling. I would like to make even better memories in the future. There’s so much to see, explore, and experience. Fortunately, these days I have an extremely supportive boyfriend and look forward to seeing some Sharktopians in real life (with him)!
Q7. We saw that you love to find crinoid fossils.. Have you ever found a shark fossil before?!
I love fossils! It’s like discovering a clue to another time. Put all the pieces together and you can almost see the ancient creature drifting in the water. I’ve spent some time on a few beaches in Florida looking for shark teeth. That was pretty relaxing and enjoyable. My boyfriend and I filled a small bowl with countless teeth (mostly lemon sharks, reef sharks, mako, and a few great white teeth that were fairly small).
Q8. What's your favourite shark - to see and also to draw?
My favorite shark of all time is definitely the Basking shark. With their mouths closed they look like giant muppets! I adore them!
I think the shark that I mindlessly doodle the most would probably be a reef shark hybrid (the nose and body is a little more plump). Sometimes the doodles take a more distinct form such as the great white, lemon shark, etc. If I’m drawing with something in-mind, I’ll create that species in a more specific manner; making sure I get the fins and shape correct (within reason).
Q9. Tell us more about your interests outside of art
I go for a walk in the woods every day. I love living in an area (SE Wisconsin) where there are forests, lakes, rivers, streams, dunes, and so much variety. If I’m not drawing, I’m usually outside hiking, kayaking, etc!
Q10. What current projects are you working on?
I’m always working on more non-profit coloring pages, but am currently taking a short break. I need to finish the next batch of exclusive downloads for my wonderful group of patrons. Using Patreon as a support structure really helps me focus on the non-profit coloring sheets, campaigns, etc. I’m so grateful to those supporters - as well as those who purchase directly through my shop. It’s always appreciated and means a LOT to me!
Q11. Where can people find your work and support you?
My shop page has all the info about original art, prints, leggings, and more! www.sharktopia.org/shop
You can also find my “I’m not a monster!” Tiger shark design in now available in the Shark Guardian online shop! This design was created to raise funds for Shark Guardian (100% of the proceeds donated). US$1,625.21 was donated from the initial campaign on Bonfire! The design is available on various shirts and hoodies. There is also a second version so that black/dark colored clothing items could be an option (which wasn’t part of the original campaign). Check out the options in the Shark Guardian shop!
Don’t forget that you can send some questions in for Caiti as we will be chatting to her Live on Instagram on Saturday September 25th. Look out for question boxes in our stories leading up to it.
Check out the Sharktopia website here