April Artists of the Month


Anna McConnell and Tyson Seiben with their artwork.

Madeline Becotte

Shawnee is home to many wonderful artists, which is why this month, two artists have been selected as our Artist(s) of the Month! 

Tyson Seiben and Anna McConnell have been a part of the Shawnee Art Program since they started at Shawnee. Over their time at Shawnee, both have grown and made lasting impressions on Mr. Osmond. He said, “They both have a combination of work ethic and a lot of creativity, which I think will really help them become successful.” Both have also been recognized for their talents in Teen Arts, which is “an opportunity for all the kids in Burlington County to showcase their best art. It is “juried” by other artists who chose other pieces to move on to county and state levels.”  

Our reporters had a chance to interview Tyson and Anna about their journeys. 

R: How long have you been making art?

Tyson: As long as I can remember, at least since preschool. I wasn’t really good then. I only recently realized I wanted to pursue it since my Sophomore year I think. But even back in 7th and 8th grade I always had my sketchbooks on me, but it was more of a hobby back then.

Anna: I really got into it at the beginning of middle school, but I’ve always loved it.

R: What kind of art do you make?

Tyson: I sort of just take from my imagination, I don’t do observational work. I take inspiration from cartoons you watched as a child. They go through the machine of my brain and come out as original and authentic as I can. Everything is reconstructed and from my own imagination, you know? I don’t do a lot of fan art, I just try to make cool, wacky characters. Sometimes they have a narrative in them too. I’ll make stories to go with them, but they’re typically one-offs. 

Anna: I use Acrylics to make paintings.

R: What are your inspirations?

Tyson: Pendleton Ward. Mobius. Luigi Serafini. Salvador Dali. I love a lot of cartoon network shows. 

Anna: Music. I also use the emotions of people to add a twist. I really pull from the world around me. I paint everything how I see it.

R: How are you progressing with your art?

Tyson: Going to school for it. I look up videos online all the time. My learning experience comes as I need it so if there’s something I want to do I do it that way. If there’s a program I want to use, I look it up that way. It’s sort of a sandbox for me. If I find something I want to do it branches off from there.

Anna: My style has definitely changed. I’ve become really into realism when I paint.

R: Accomplishments as an artist?

Tyson: This year I got an award at teen arts. An award at the Burlington County Center of the Arts show, got the same award sophomore year. Different apprenticeships, one with a lady that owns her own graphic design business. Taught some classes for kids. Album covers for local bands.

Anna: I made it to states for Teen Arts, I’m invited to the BC art show, and I won teen arts.

R: Advice for young artists?

Tyson: Draw what makes you happy. The passion behind it shows in your art, so make sure it is what you want to be drawing. Art is a medium for expression, you can use it for whatever you want. And remember that there are zero limits.

Anna: Try different things! There are things that I thought I would hate that I love.

R: Any pieces you are particularly proud of?

Tyson: The Labyrinth of Madness which won me the award for Teen Arts. One with all these scarecrows and stuff that was really cool. There is one that is really Dali inspired, I made it in colored pencil, which I don’t use a lot, but I’m trying to explore new mediums.

Anna: My octopus painting. It made it all the way to the State finals for teen arts.

R: Biggest supporters as an artist?

Tyson: Friends that I met at SCAD they’re a really good support group when I need advice on a piece. My friend Gwendolyn specifically. She’ll give me legit advice, which is really helpful.

Anna: My friends, family, and Mr. Osmond

R: What did you want to be as a kid?

Tyson: A three-way tie between artist, author, and director. I always knew I wanted to be creative, but now I’m blending the artist and author thing because I want to make a graphic novel, so kind of a best of both worlds in that sense. But mainly I want to pursue a visual medium. 

Anna: I didn’t want to be an artist. I actually wanted to be a movie producer for the longest time.

R: Where do you most like to create art?

Tyson: My desk in my room, but I can find a lot of different places to work. What’s less important is my setting, and what’s more important is my state of mind.

Anna: My room is where I’m most motivated.

R: How do you get over art block?

Tyson: Sometimes I’ll wait it out because inspiration will come. Sometimes it will come from old art to help rekindle, but a bunch of different things. It’s pretty random. When other parts of my life are busy, it makes it harder to make art.

Anna: I start drawing a person and then do something funky to it to have fun. I find that I spend so long on one piece that I need the simple task after.

And, of course, we asked both of our artists to answer some questions in order to get to know them better.

R: Favorite color?

Tyson: Polka dot

Anna: Purple

R: Favorite movie?

Tyson: Coraline, Labyrinth, and Never Ending Story

Anna: Maze Runner

R: Favorite ice cream flavor?

Tyson: Cookie Dough

Anna: Mint chocolate chip

R: Favorite Book/Author?

Tyson: The graphic novel, Bone by Jeff Smith

Anna: I honestly don’t read. I’m too busy painting. 

R: Favorite show?

Tyson: The Midnight Gospel

Anna: The Office (easy)

R: Favorite music artist?

Tyson: Beachouse, Cockatoo Twins, and Indigo Desouza

Anna: The Green

R: Favorite animal?

Tyson: Caterpillar

Anna: Stingray

We are so proud of our artists, and all that they have accomplished, and are so excited to share so many more Shawnee artists in the future.