At this point in his career, Tim Shelton can more or less call his own shots. He runs his own tattoo shop (Seal Beach’s Still Life Tattoo), maintains a dedicated clientele, and curates art galleries both on his own and in conjunction with other artists, brands, and companies. When the established tattooer realized how many of the people around him were being affected by autism, he knew he’d need to pull some strings to help out where he could.
“I have a family member who’s autistic and a friend’s son who’s autistic, and a lot of my clients have family members or work with autistic children,” Shelton says. “I’ve always wanted to do a puzzle piece-themed art show, so it popped in my head that it’d be really cool to do a puzzle piece-themed art show as a benefit.”
But rather than just giving each of the artists a generic-shaped puzzle piece, Shelton took the time to creating an actual massive jigsaw puzzle — meaning all of the pieces will fit together perfectly, regardless of what designs are on them. Finding over 30 artists to donate their time and paint on to oddly shaped canvases wasn’t the easiest way Shelton could’ve gone about things, but he believes the end result will be worth it both for the art fans and the folks at Talk About Curing Autism who will be helping with the event and receiving the proceeds.
“A lot of people know about autism, so I just want to get a lot of people out here to see the show and see what’s going on,” Shelton says. “It’s going to be something that’s a little different, because I really committed to having all of the pieces literally fit together. We’re going to keep it up until the 28th, and then we’re putting it all together for people to see the whole thing for a day.”
Although the auction on Saturday evening is the event you’ll want to go to for supporting the cause and maybe nabbing some great art, Shelton’s already looking forward to seeing what the finished puzzle will look like on April 28. With a wide variety of tattooers (including Tim Hendricks, Opie Ortiz, and Dan Smith among others) and painters (such as the renowned Kevin Llewellyn), every puzzle piece is sure to appeal to a different crowd. But while that might make the combined design look strange, it’s that mishmash of people and cultures that Shelton loves the most about putting galleries together both in and out of the tattoo world.
“Galleries have always been a chance for me to get to know people who I don’t usually work with,” Shelton says. “I’ve always loved the social aspect of tattooing and the art world. It’s just fun to be in contact with everybody and see what everybody does for it, and then we all get together for the opening. It really brings different groups of people together.”
Of course, beyond any of his regular art galleries, Shelton is getting a different kind of enjoyment out of Piece by Piece so far. While most of his events bring people together and benefit the artists and others involved, this one is finally a chance for him to give back to the community in ways that a lot of people can’t.
“Every once in awhile, I either try to be a part of something that gives back or do something myself that gives back,” Shelton says. “I kind of got that from my dad. Now that I’m in a position to help other people, I really want to do it.”
The opening and auction of Piece by Piece Art Show takes place at Still Life Tattoo (1500 Pacific Coast Hwy, Suite F) in Seal Beach from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Saturday, April 8.