What Drives Her: Shan Fannin’s Car Art is Out of This World

Artist Shan Fannin creates realistic car and bike paintings that have appeared in galleries and collections around the world, and even, in a collection on the moon.

Shan Fannin
Shan Fannin

Literally, Out of This World

Most artists can say their artwork has been ‘First Place,’ received ‘Best of Show’ or hung in galleries across the nation. Shannon “Shan” Fannin, an artist from Austin, TX, whose work exhibits at the Petrol Lounge and the Western Art Gallery can attest to such goodness in her career. Her paintings have received those accolades, been featured in major magazines and collected by art and car investors. It’s a goal for artists who may believe that “the sky’s the limit” or want to “shoot for the stars.” But how about how about “shooting for the moon?!” Well, that’s where Shan Fannin’s car art is headed.

Yes, the Moon!

I asked Shan where the most prominent place her art work has been, her reply was surprisingly, the moon. The Lunar Codex project founded by Dr. Samuel Peralta will see works of art from artists in 91 different countries sent to the moon’s surface between November 2023 and 2024. Shan will be among those artists.

Shan remembers having art teachers throughout her school years encourage her. And while she began her career as a marketing director for a property management company, she always kept her love of art and realized in 2014 it was something she wanted to revisit.

In 2014, Shan painted her first 16 x 20 car painting of an orange GMC truck. She says she still has that painting today. She talks humbly of the painting, realizing that it isn’t her best piece of work, but, she still likes to look back at it and see just how far she has come.

Related: Designing a Bespoke GMC Truck

Shan Fannin Bronco

Vintage Bronco badge by Shan Fannin

How Does That Translate to Cars?

Meanwhile, her husband was President of the local Land Rover Club and a fairly new owner of a 1961 Ford Thunderbird convertible, named “Maybelline,” encouraged her to come along with him to classic car shows. Being her biggest cheerleader, she obliged his request. It was here that she says she enjoyed meeting the owners and hearing their stories behind these classic cars.

At about this time, Shan had also made a return to art school to once again familiarize herself with the various mediums and styles of painting. She says in school, her favorite thing was figurative life drawings.

Shan enjoys painting cars; she says, “Cars are the one thing we all have in common, they bring joy to people.”

Although she thinks that painting cars are a lot like drawing a person, the grille, being the face, the headlights, being eyes, she enjoys the challenge of it all. Classic cars she admits are a bit easier to paint than performance cars.

In 2015, she painted a pink Chevrolet Bel Air. When the painting sold in an art gallery in Canada, Shan says it was then, that she realized she could paint.

It was that year that Shan added an accountant to the her payroll and decided to “do art” as a business.

Shan’s paintings have taken her all over the United States, she recalls the time she found herself on Amelia Island at the Concourse d’Elegance in 2016, where a patron handed her a handful of cash and asked her to do a painting of his Lamborghini.

Related: A Supercar to Remind Us of the Joy of Driving


Is That a Painting or a Photograph?

Shan’s paintings look realistic, meaning these paintings look more like the photograph that Shan took versus an actual painting. Well, Shan did photograph them, and then she painted them. She calls this ‘photo-realism,’ and says she is a ‘photo-realist.’

What Does She Use to Paint?

Shan like to use Liquitex acrylic paints. She uses her fingers, palms and brushes to bring these works of art to life. She uses a lot of color, but she’s a natural at making chrome and carbon fiber look real in her paintings. Her smallest paintings are 5 x 5, her biggest is 6 feet long.

Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser Grille

Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser grille by Shan Fannin

What is Her Own Personal Favorite Piece of Art So Far?

Her 1971 Mercedes AMG 300SEL also known as the ‘Red Pig.’ Shan says she absolutely loves the story behind this car; being the “Underdog” in the 24 Hours of LeMans, this car made history in the next 24 hours. Quite a story behind this car.

One other favorite was painted in 2019, ‘Sully’s Royal Enfield.’ This painting just holds a lot of meaning to Shan. The bike was photographed during a trip she and her husband had taken to Italy for her 50th birthday, however, when she got ready to paint this piece, she lost her 10 year old Labradoodle, Sully, who was her “studio buddy.”

“I hope that when this painting goes to a collector some day, that they will know how important this painting is to me; it will always be very special,” she said.

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Artwork By Shan Fannin

Love in a Tail Light. Photo: Shan Fannin

Where to Find Shan’s Work

You can see her art hanging in the Kessler Collection Resort Hotels, and in various art galleries from Austin, Texas, to Denver, Colorado, to London, England.

At any given time, she has several paintings “In the works,” with 5 easels in her home studio.

And she hasn’t just honed her craft of art, but people skills as well. Shan says that you have to market your art, attend shows and support other artist.

Related: Motorcycle Curious? You too can Learn to Ride

And the List Gets Longer…..

Each year, the list gets longer as Shan adds to her accolades. Multiple times, Shan has received ‘Best of Show’, finalist, and honorable mention.

She has had solo exhibitions, had her art hanging in Times Square in New York City (The ‘Red Pig’) and been a guest juror at various art events. Her work has been in countless publications and blogs and she has been interviewed on podcasts and YouTube channels alike.

This Christmas, Shan will take part in another annual event in Denver, Colorado, the ‘Holiday Miniatures Show’ at Abend Gallery.

Shan says her inspiration and desire is to “Always create something beautiful, add something positive and leave people happy,” she also adds, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can always redefine yourself, just be kind to who you are and follow your dreams.”

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I teach 6th grade social studies, travel the world in the summer, write auto/moto news between grading papers and... More about Tabatha Chovanetz