Accomplished Encinitas artist showcasing work in online gallery


In all his years of work, Scott Shellstrom — a multi-talented artist — has never done a retrospective exhibition. “Perhaps I wanted to hold onto all my work,” he said thoughtfully.

However, with a recent change of tactics, now Shellstrom’s eclectic mix of paintings of photorealistic portrait art, smashed trash, urban landscapes and fine art photography are available to view and to purchase in the virtual gallery of Saatchi.

The Saatchis were among the best and most discriminating collectors in the world, said Shellstrom. “And now they are online and present a very high-quality portfolio,” he said.

Many of Shellstrom’s brilliantly colored photographs are of local scenes in Encinitas, where he now lives. They depict images from Moonlight Beach, of the Self Realization Fellowship lotus domes, and iconic images of palm trees.

Other photographs have captured evocative scenes of Shellstrom’s travels to Tuscany — where he learned to paint like a Renaissance artist — Hawaii and Yosemite.

A favorite venue was Venice Beach. Shellstrom interpreted aspects of its daily life through his oils on canvas.

One of those images included a policeman leaning against his car looking toward the boardwalk. “His cruiser was parked in front of the Van Gogh mural,” recalled Shellstrom, adding that it was the perfect opportunity to incorporate the legendary artist’s work into his own.

Born and raised in Illinois, Shellstrom graduated with a BFA in Visual Communications from Northern Illinois University, specializing in art history, photography, drawing, design and painting.

After graduation, he was hired as an art director for a major Chicago advertising agency. In 1984, a work opportunity brought him to New York where he worked at BBDO, then a year later at Young and Rubicam, two of the world’s top advertising agencies, both on Madison Avenue in Manhattan.

When Shellstrom lived in New York City, he was eager to get his fine art into the OK Harris Gallery. At the time, he was painting photorealistic portraits, but the gallery owner, Ivan Karp, remarked that the work resembled that of Chuck Close, also a photorealism portrait painter, whom he was already representing.

Shellstrom shifted gears and worked for a couple of years on a series of realistic paintings of fruits and vegetables, and once again Karp was carrying similar work. His advice to Shellstrom: “Try to do something original.”

A move to Venice Beach in 1996 brought new opportunities and stimulus for Shellstrom, who walked along the local streets and found trash that had been run over.

He captured these “gnarly” objects on large-scale oils on canvas. During a return trip to New York, Shellstrom once again showed his work to Karp, and “wouldn’t you know it,” he said, “he was already representing an artist who was making smashed garbage sculptures.”

Shellstrom’s luck finally changed when his work appeared at New York City’s Gallery Henoch, and soon he was commissioned to paint for various Hollywood notables, including Burt Reynolds and John Larroquette.

Several of his pieces were selected to appear in the Armand Hammer Museum’s “Emerging Artists” show in 1997, and two years later the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibited some of Shellstrom’s trash series.

Shellstrom’s tenacity began young. At age 12, he persuaded a Chicago newspaper to hire him as a cartoonist. At age 15, he talked his way onto the set of the all-black dance show “Soul Train,” being the first white dancer ever to appear on the show.

A member of the Screen Actors Guild, in 1978 Shellstrom worked on stage with the famed Second City crew in Chicago. He has appeared in commercials and hosted a show on the Travel Channel. Today he is the founder of the Innovative Integrated Advertising Agency.

Many of Shellstrom’s art pieces are available as originals, and all his work is available in print and printed canvas. To see Shellstrom’s collection, visit To learn more about his advertising agency. visit