Happy Women’s History Month!

While we are grateful for and in celebration of our incredible community 365 days a year, March marks a special opportunity for us to highlight the womxn in our lives – those who have supported us, taught us, inspired us, and helped pave our way.

In our Inspiring Women series, we are imprinting the 31 days of March with 31 stories from the Skillshare teacher community. Those who have taught us illustration or photography or hand-lettering or videography or even how to make paper flowers. We want to pull back the curtain and share more about these teachers and their creativity, and the women who have helped inspire their journeys just as much as they inspire ours.

Artwork by Ann Shen
Artwork by Ann Shen

To kick off Women’s History Month, we tapped Skillshare teacher Ann Shen, illustrator, graphic designer, author, and hand-letterer. Ann’s Skillshare Staff Pick classes highlight her incredible process of painting with gouache – whether it’s portraits or flowers. Her newest Skillshare Staff Pick class captures the exact spirit of this month – Iconic Women in History: Draw Your Inspiration. You may have come across her books and done a double take at their stunning illustrations. Her work aims to highlight iconic women, including Bad Girls Throughout History, Legendary Ladies, and her most recent work, Nevertheless, She Wore It, celebrating iconic fashion moments.

We sat down for a quick chat with Ann Shen after she completed the incredible illustration that kicks off our Inspiring Women month.

“I want to shine the light on all the ways women and people of color have always been building the world we know; we just didn’t know it.”

Skillshare teacher Ann Shen
Skillshare teacher Ann Shen

Does your identity influence your creativity? If so, how?

So much of my work is about making people feel less alone – and it’s because for a lot of my life, I felt alone. Much of that is due to not seeing women working in the art field, or people in general as working artists. Now I want to shine the light on all the ways women and people of color have always been building the world we know; we just didn’t know it. So my identity as a woman, as a person of color, as a person living at this particular moment in time, is explored through my creativity and my art.

Can you tell us about an inspiring woman in your life or in history who has influenced you?

Portrait of Disney artist and animator    Mary Blair   , from    Michael Netzer   's Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook.
Portrait of Disney artist and animator Mary Blair, from Michael Netzer‘s Portraits of the Creators Sketchbook.

One of my favorite women in history is Mary Blair; she’s an incredible artist who worked with Disney and did commercial artwork on her own. She designed the look of the It’s A Small World ride, and many of my favorite films – like “Cinderella”, “Peter Pan”, and “Alice in Wonderland”. In all the stories I’ve heard and read about her, she was a confident, no-holds-barred woman in a male-dominated field. She asked for what she wanted, and she had a unique vision. She was an artist to the core. Her work and life has influenced me so much in my own work and how I approach my career!

Follow along for 31 days of Inspiring Women on our Instagram here. And be sure to tune in on International Women’s Day (Monday, March 8), when we are giving away a copy of Ann’s book Nevertheless, She Wore It and a yearlong membership to Skillshare.