I love taking a blank sheet of paper or canvas and making something interesting, an object worthy of contemplation. I’m drawn to imagery that evokes solitude and quietness. Humor is also important to me. Against this hushed backdrop of humor and solitude, the concept of transition often dominates the foreground. My best works are a glimpse of what it’s like to be alive and aware at a particular moment.
My work is increasingly based on intuitive thinking. I sketch an idea, thumbnail size, and then spend many days figuring out how to give it life, to keep the original idea or feeling intact as I flesh it out, adding and removing visual information. In the best-case scenario, those decisions are the ones that enable these inherently narrative works to move a relatively linear prose “story” into the rhythmic, symbolic, and imaginative realm of poetry.
My approach is always tied to working in a series. In the 1990s, I concentrated on the idea of “bread,” thinking it was an objective and universal theme. Conversely, in recent years I’ve discovered that the less objective and more personal I make my work, the more universal it truly becomes.
I spend most days attempting to express the aspects of life that are the most difficult to put into words. It is always the things that I don’t yet understand that are the most alluring. The constant desire to learn, to improve my technical abilities, and to always keep moving forward has not come without cost, but is still the only path I see worth pursuing.
Bill Shaffer was born and raised in Omaha, NE. Following the completion of his BFA degree at UNL, he lived in Seattle from 1978-1981 where he held various jobs including graphic designer and served as art director for Desperate Times, a tabloid devoted to Seattle's punk/new wave music scene.
Returning to NE in 1982, Shaffer worked in the field of graphic design/illustration for business and occasionally produced artwork for a solo show,.
In 1999, Shaffer returned to UNL and graduated with a MFA. He currently teaches at UNL.