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Erin Shuttleworth and Jeffrey Ellis

Erin Shuttleworth and her mentor Jeffrey Ellis share an enthusiasm for storytelling through comics and graphic novels. Erin was excited that the mentorship has allowed them both to influence each other, their work, and their plans for their future professional paths.

BC Culture Days: Erin, tell us about your experience working with Jeff.

Erin Shuttleworth: Jeff is helping me develop a business plan for a Kickstarter campaign. Through the mentorship, he also helped me write a short story that I ended up getting distinction on through my school. So that was really exciting. He helped me develop it from sketching and writing to finishing it. He really helped me focus on the project and actually inspired me to start developing a longer form graphic novel that I’m going to be creating for the next 8 months, which will be part of my Kickstarter.

Jeffrey Ellis: Seeing Erin’s final mini-comic finalized and available on her website as a fully realized book was a very proud moment for me.

I think the focus of the mentorship for me was on helping Erin find her voice. The project evolved quite a bit, and I think ultimately it ended up coming from a much more personal place. Erin really grew as a storyteller, and I was happy to encourage her to dig into more personal material.

The cover of the story Jeffrey helped Erin produce called, “Waves: A Zine of Forest Walking and Grief” by Erin Shuttleworth.
The cover of the story Jeffrey helped Erin produce called, “Waves: A Zine of Forest Walking and Grief” by Erin Shuttleworth.

Erin Shuttleworth: I feel encouraged to make really meaningful work too. There’s nothing negative about the cute stuff that I do, but it’s just been really fulfilling to start diving into these really complex conversations about mental health and vulnerability and the human experience because that’s kind of the universal thing that we’re all connected by, right? So, being able to speak to that has been really exceptional and really empowering for my practice.

Jeffrey Ellis: I think a mentorship can be a big help for a young artist. When I think of the many pitfalls I experienced in my early career, I am happy to share my experiences and help a younger artist avoid some of those pitfalls and hopefully foster their talents to produce even more stunning work. Artists exist in a community and mentorships help solidify those bonds.

Working with Erin was a very positive experience that came along at a time when I needed to feel more connected to comic arts and my own practice. Seeing her work develop made me want to push a little harder to complete my own projects.

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Learn more about the event that Erin hosted for Culture Days.
Read all of the 2023 mentor bios.

Erin Shuttleworth is an internationally recognized visual storyteller with a passion for comics and illustration. She creates work with a focus on vulnerability, humour, and experimentation. Her credentials include a BFA in Studio Arts with a minor in Film Studies from the University of Victoria. She is currently pursuing an MA in Illustration through Falmouth University, with a projected graduation date of May 2024. Her aspirations are to make art more accessible and barrier-free by helping to demystify creative pursuits and the art world as a whole.

Jeffrey Ellis is a recent graduate of Capilano University’s IDEA program with a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication. Since childhood visual storytelling has been his passion. Jeffrey loves to tell stories about people and their relationships, his inspirations include Adrian Tomine, Chris Ware and Mariko Tamaki. Through his involvement in the Cloudscape Comics Society (a non-profit he founded), Jeffrey has more than ten years of experience in project management, print production, and book publishing. He has managed the production of more than fifteen different printed graphic novels many of which contain his own work. He has also produced multiple books of his own work, most notably “Teach English In Japan”, which is based on his own experience teaching English in Japan for three years. His most recent work is “Love in the Time of Covid” based on his experiences dating during the global pandemic. This comic is part of an ongoing series of stories centered around life in East Vancouver.