Sharkupations - Art for Sharks4Kids

I recently had the opportunity to draw some of my favorite creatures–sharks–for another of my favorite creatures–kids! I was contacted by Jillian Morris, founder of Sharks4kids, a non-profit organization out of Florida that promotes shark education and ocean conservation to do a shark themed poster. 

Inside the jaws of a Megalodon in New Orleans. 

Inside the jaws of a Megalodon in New Orleans. 

I have enjoyed learning about sharks since I was a kid and growing up in Kentucky, that was mostly from books. I remember my school librarian apologizing to me because she had run out of books about sharks. I had read all she had available. It was a great thrill after becoming a certified diver to finally see some real live sharks! While diving in Hawaii, I got to see a reef shark that was swimming along next to me. A few years later a friend, who is a marine biologist, took me diving in the New England Aquarium’s giant ocean tank which gave me the opportunity to dive with three sand tiger sharks and a nurse shark. Not to mention a 500lb green sea turtle. There is a short video of the dive you can watch here. So this was a project I was going to really enjoy! 

Showing off a shark tooth found during the Giant Ocean Tank dive at the New England Aquarium.

Showing off a shark tooth found during the Giant Ocean Tank dive at the New England Aquarium.

In aquariums, sharks bond with staff. Sharks behave differently with humans they know well than they do with strangers. 
–sharkweek

Concept

I came up with the theme “Sharkupations” to play off of the fact that sharks have important occupations in our oceans which fits with the mission of Sharks4kids. We decided on a poster and some coloring pages. 

Sandbar Shark Beach Volleyball Player. 

Sandbar Shark Beach Volleyball Player. 

Since I knew we would do coloring pages, line art was going to be a part of the final art. For that reason I started with the coloring pages. I started with sketching out many species of sharks. 

The Blue Shark from one of the coloring pages. You can download the coloring pages for free when getting a poster. 

The Blue Shark from one of the coloring pages. You can download the coloring pages for free when getting a poster. 

The goal was to be true to the species, paying special attention to the color, fins, etc, while giving them a fun, friendly character design. I created a long oval shape from which I would create all the sharks from, which helps tie them all together and look more like a set. If you look closely you can see this shape in the sketches. 

Of the over 500 kinds of sharks, only four are considered dangerous to humans:
oceanic whitetips, bulls, tigers, and great whites.
–sharkweek

It was great fun depicting the sharks in their “jobs” or “Sharkupations”. For example, how about a Great White Chef? They’re always hungry, right? A cookie-cutter shark can be a pastry chef! Hmmm…Sandbar Shark? Well, she can be a beach volleyball player! A Mako–an Olympian (they’re really fast!). It was really fun to come up with the jobs based on the shark’s name or special attributes. If you would like to try your hand at it, you can download the coloring pages and give it a shot. Great fun for the family or a classroom project!

Process

After sketching out the sharks, I brought the sketches into Adobe Illustrator to do the line work. 

Shark sketches. You can see the elongated oval shape I used to design the sharks from in the sketch.

Shark sketches. You can see the elongated oval shape I used to design the sharks from in the sketch.

With the line work completed, I began coloring and adding the detail to each of the sharks. 

Megamouth Shark Game Show Host. This guy didn't make it on to the poster. 

Megamouth Shark Game Show Host. This guy didn't make it on to the poster. 

I also added a few other critters to accompany the sharks on the poster. An eel, tropical fish, barracuda, jellyfish and vampire squid. 

Fun critters that join the sharks on the poster.

Fun critters that join the sharks on the poster.

Project Completed

You can purchase your very own Sharkupations print in the shop. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit Sharks4kids. 

The final poster. You can purchase your very own Sharkupations print in the shop. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit Sharks4kids. 

The final poster. You can purchase your very own Sharkupations print in the shop. A portion of the proceeds goes to benefit Sharks4kids. 

Get your very own Sharkupations poster in the shop!

To learn more about Sharks4kids and their mission visit sharks4kids.com.

Also Sharks4kids interviewed me on their blog! You can read it here:http://sharks4kids.com/shark-week-artist-scott-soeder/