Sharktopia is the whimsical work of Caiti Rose; a coffee-loving, shark-obsessed, happy vegan artist with the goal of altering the misconceptions surrounding sharks and other Ocean life. Through her art, she raises awareness about harsh topics such as: shark finning, plastic pollution, bycatch/overfishing, etc. She has provided 35+ FREE coloring pages (quite a few with Sharks4Kids!) to help spread the awareness even further. Dive in, swim around, and create a masterpiece of your own and help the world see just how important sharks really are!
It was a pleasure connecting with Caiti and hearing her story!
1) What is your favorite shark and why?
The Basking shark is my favorite! I call them 'Ocean Muppets'. If you're ever having a bad day, just look up photos of Basking sharks. With their mouths closed, they look like silly, happy, goofballs! Ironically, it was the creation of the collaborative Basking shark coloring page with Sharks4Kids that really solidified these gentle giants as my favorite.
2) What is one species of shark you’d like to snorkel /dive with?
Snorkeling with Basking sharks is at the top of my 'Wish List'. I've even got a travel mug from "Basking Shark Scotland" in support of all they do for these sharks, the Ocean, etc!
3) How did you get started with your artwork? What made you start creating Shark art?
Sharks and I go way back. Long story short, I was born without the use of my right arm/hand (Erb's Duchenne Palsy). Luckily, when I turned one, my fingers moved for the first time. At that point, a physical therapist was holding a marker in my hand as part of the recovery process. Needless to say, the drawings of sharks showed up a few years later! I've always been fascinated with sharks and the Ocean - I can thank my parents for the endless hours of PBS/BBC and access to our local library. Nearly five years ago, I turned 30 and finally saw the emotional connection my sharks have with the outside world. By October 2014, after a deep conversation with my friend Katie, "Sharktopia" was the new name I was creating under. I have to send special thanks into the Universe to her (and her family) for always believing in me from the very beginning.
4) Can you tell us a little about your pieces and how you create them?
Over the years, I've fine-tuned a process for creating certain types of art. Although, the art I create on stones I've collected from Lake Michigan is basically just free-hand and there isn't much of a process there - just a lot of layers of ink and paint. For watercolor paintings, these are the steps I go through: 1. Creating rough sketches until I scribble one that looks like the final idea.
2. Re-creating that final idea in greater detail on Strathmore watercolor paper.
3. Adding one-pass of thin ink using a 01 Micron graphic pen.
4. Erasing the pencil lines and adding watercolor paints.
5. Once the paint is fully dried, I add more ink lines and detail (using various sizes of Microns).
6. If the piece needs more shading, I use Prismacolor brushtip markers.
For drawings that are just inked, the process is similar minus the watercolor paint. After I erase the pencil lines, I add more ink at that point.
All of this takes far longer now than in the past, but the end result is so much better (greater detail, deeper black lines, etc.)
5) How does art impact and help conservation?
I've been fortunate enough to witness my sharks tugging on millions of heart-strings around the world. I've received hundreds of messages over the past few years from those who decided to change their minds about sharks, to stop eating shark meat, to stop buying shark products, to boycott companies that support shark finning, to start protesting the sale of shark items, to learn more about shark conservation, and find additional ways they can help, etc. I'm so grateful to everyone for the support, and more importantly, for helping spread awareness for sharks. I'm glad I get to play a small role in helping everyone see just how important sharks really are.
5) What message do you hope people take away from your art?
From my conservation pieces, one of the messages I hope gets heard the loudest is this: 70% of the oxygen we breathe on this planet comes from our Oceans. Sharks are vital key players in helping ensure that our Oceans remain healthy and able to provide that oxygen. Despite this fact, 100 MILLION sharks are still being slaughtered every single year. I truly hope that my art continues to help people see the truth; our oceanic ecosystems rely on sharks for balance, abundance, and our future depends on keeping them alive!