Larmarrous Shirley was born with creativity embedded in his DNA.
Long before Shirley began his standout career in art and design, he, along with his friends and family, became aware of how gifted he was.
“I knew as a child that I wanted to be in the arts,” said Shirley. “I always drew pictures and painted, and I won several art shows. My parents, relatives, pastor, and my high school art teacher all pushed me to give the art field a try. They truly believed in me and my skills.”
It has never taken much to stimulate Shirley’s creative senses. For him, observing his surroundings inspires fresh ideas for his next creation.
“I am inspired by everything around me. Art is everywhere. Designs are all around us. Someone is always displaying their fonts, colors, images, angles, and other creative works. I try to take as much of it in as possible.”
The motivation of his loved ones led him to Kentucky State University, where he received a studio art/academic scholarship. During his time as an undergraduate, he was fortunate to get an internship with the school’s Land Grant Program where he met his mentor, Wyvette Williams. Until this day, he thanks her for providing him with a solid start to his career.
“I thought I was going to become a painter, sculptor, or photographer, but instead, I got an internship as a communications assistant with the school’s Land Grant Program, where I worked as a graphic designer and videographer under Wyvette. She became my instant mentor, big sister and inspiration. Because of the opportunity, I got to work with the latest design software. The opportunity inspired me to pursue a career in art and design.”
Shirley stayed on the path he had been set on and earned a bachelor’s degree in studio arts from Kentucky State in 1994. He went on to experience post-graduate success in the Atlanta, Georgia magazine circuit. His work as an art assistant with Upscale Magazine prepared him for his history-making position as an assistant art director at Atlanta magazine, where he was the first African-American to hold an art director position. Shirley reflected on why his hiring was significant for the city of Atlanta and up-and-coming black artists.
“I always felt it was important for the city publications to reflect the people in their city. The magazine didn’t reflect the city at that time. My position allowed me to make sure the publication gave opportunities to freelance black writers, stylists, models, photographers and illustrators. The talent was out there, and I wanted others to be granted the same opportunities I had.”
From there, Shirley’s career ascended even higher. He held art director and design director positions with Style magazine, The AJT magazine, and Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles magazine. Through his freelance moniker, LShirley Creative, he’s had the privilege of working with celebrities such as Chaka Khan, Incognito, and international artist, Najee. He also designed the branding for Next Level Events, a company that works with music artists such as Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Robert Glasper, Mint Condition and Lalah Hathaway.
His interaction with famous people taught Shirley how to take chances creatively.
“The experiences have been great. Working with entertainers has allowed me to think outside of the box, and it has given me the chance to create a variety of branding variables to help extend the reach of their audience. I have been able to successfully help my clients understand how to translate their art into an album cover, a billboard or a website.”
Currently, Shirley serves as the creative director for Travelgirl magazine, a national women’s travel publication. There, he oversees the design of entertainers such as Cher, Celine Dion, Tamia, Grant Hill, and Chef Bobby Flay. To reach a high level of success, Shirley encourages other creators to be diligent in perfecting their craft.
“I would suggest learning as many design programs as possible. I feel that a designer should design daily, even if you are not hired for a design job. You cannot master anything if you are not honing your skills.”