As told to Rachel Alexander
Photography by Valeriya Avdeyeva
“Make me look cool. I’m not that cool.” Shannan tells me as I’m leaving her Laurel Canyon home tucked away in the hills. “Ha! I don’t have to try that hard!” I had just finished interviewing Shannan Click, who I met when we were 18 in New York running around to fashion show castings and became fast friends. When I showed up she had just dropped off her kids at school, hair a mess with no makeup, wearing an oversized Monkeys t-shirt. She is disarmingly humble in a city that is anything but, and that’s what’s cool to me.
Shannan has been an iconic model working on everything from Chanel to Victoria’s Secret and recently moved from the hustle of East Village to the artist hideaway of Laurel Canyon.
Our friend Valerie Avdeyeva, photographer and model, met up with us-Nikon camera flung over her shoulder. Shannan with her paint brushes creating a beautiful mess all over the studio and I showed up with my pen and paper ready to learn more. We all followed a similar road learning from our 20 years each in the fashion world that led us into a creative field of our own.
It was a rare day for the three of us, longtime friends, to put together a shoot while talking about our art, motherhood, modeling, and balancing it all. Make me look cool. I’m not that cool.
Rachel – Hi Shannan! You’re a mom, painter, and model. What do you think of balance and is that even possible?
Shannan – I’m always trying to get there because it’s never equal. I don’t always manage that, but I try to live in the present moment. Right now a lot of lt ls taking care of the kids. My art helps me stay sane.
Rachel – You”ve had such a successful modeling career doing everything from runway, to Chanel campaigns, looking back is there anything you would change?
Shannan – I’m happy with the whole path. It was a good run. Now it’s all about social media that wasn’t my time. You had to wait for polaroids and film to be developed. I would have a different career now. I worked with everyone I wanted to except Peter Lindbergh.
I couldn’t ask for anything more. I changed my look a lot; I did whatever. Saw every type of light. Still, when I do shoots, I know when the light needs to be moved and what they are going for. Working with so many different artists, you learn it all from every single type of job. Older models just know lt, maybe just retouch some wrinkles. But you can”t go wrong.
Rachel – You seem balanced right now, and you don’t seem to worry.
Shannan – I have a calm facade but it’s nowhere calm underneath, lt’s up and down as life always ls. But that’s the beauty of life as well.
Rachel – What are you looking forward to in the next few years, ls there anything you haven’t done that you want to pursue more of?
Shannan – I’m working on an art show right now and learning to have self-care. Embracing every aspect of my life, enjoying what I do and taking the time to be present.
Rachel – Two years ago I came to your house and you had a neck brace, can you tell me what happened?
Shannan – I had a stroke from a chiropractor’s neck manipulation and ended up with PTSD and couldn’t do anything for a year. I couldn’t work. Everything made me panic. The doctor said I couldn’t have any stress. So I had to reflect on myself and what I needed. It made me let go of the small stuff. That time created a space for me to do what I love-paint.
My 5-year-old daughter is an amazing artist. She’s very abstract and so free. It’s so beautiful to watch her because she knows exactly what she wants to do, she doesn’t second guess herself.
Sometimes I try to help her and draw on her painting, and she will say ” You ruined it”. It’s something for me to take note from not to doubt what I’m doing. It’s all about being true to yourself.
Rachel – I know your daughter Sage paints with you …
Shannan – She does. My 5-year-old daughter ls an amazing artist. She’s very abstract and so free. It’s so beautiful to watch her because she knows exactly what she wants to do, she doesn’t second guess herself. Sometimes I try to help her and draw on her painting, and she will say “You ruined it”. It’s something for me to take note from not to doubt what I’m doing. It’s all about being true to yourself.
Rachel – What is your creative process and how do you get started on a plece?
Shannan – In class, we go off of still life which ls a lot easier because we have a reference. For myself, I like weird worlds, very geometric shapes, colorful and pop art imagery. I ‘m fl guring out through my paintings what is me, eventually, you will all see lt.
Rachel – I can”t walt. I ‘ ve seen a lot that I love already. Do you have any tools for overcoming creative blocks?
Shannan – I come with whatever emotion I have to my studio and my paintings reflect that feelling.
Rachel – What do you ll sten to while you paint? Do you have any rituals?
Shannan – It depends on my emotional state at that moment. Sometimes I doodle, sometimes I’m bored and do nothing, but the best solution is just to work. I listen to everythlng from classlcal to the Anl mals to Elvis. I drink a lot of tea and smoke a lot of cigarettes (trying to quit that one).
I like to garden. I cut flowers from my like to be with as simple as stressful time to nature, keep it possible.
Life is so you gotta take smell the roses.
Rachel – How did having children change your life?
Shannan – It’s not about you anymore. You have another life that you love so much and want to take care of. It brings so much love and everything else. It’s the best thing and it’s hard work. You have this unconditional love. For me I became more closed off from life around me because I concentrate on them and keeping everyone happy. Tl me ln modeling ls such a short career, for me, lt was another phase of my life. I wanted to be in California close to my family with my kids. I modeled since I was 16 and living on a plane working. I was ready for a change, my heart wasn’t in it as much after kids. The modeling industry gravitates towards a younger woman. Finding the next phase of life without steady work you have to be diligent. For the first time, you’re in control. As a model, you just show up. You don”t have to organize anything.
Rachel – You”re dating an actor and you both travel a lot. How do you create quality time?
Shannan – Date night. My mom ha s the kids some weekends, Jack and I will just watch movies and cuddle in bed. One of my favorite times.
Rachel – What do you do to relax at home?
Shannan – I like to cut flowers from my garden. I like to be with nature, keep it as simple as possible. Life is stressful so you gotta take time to smell the roses.
Rachel – Where can someone view your paintings?
Shannan – I’m working on my first art show right now with curator, David Shorter, coming up in June. It’s abstract birdcage houses that are simple yet complex. The lines don’t always meet up where they should but they do connect like a relationship.
Rachel – Alright Shannan get ready, we’re going out for spicy margaritas!
photographer: Valeriya Avdeyeva
model: Shannan Click
stylist: Anna Schilling
makeup artist: Katelin Gan
interview: Rachel Alexander
creative direction / production: empire sun projects