At sixteen I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Fibromyalgia. Three years later it was Depression, and two years later it was Binge Eating Disorder. As my body and self have since become a collection of struggles and over-comings, so too has my artwork. Using hyper-realistic subjects often concealed in or consuming metaphoric objects these portraits draw from my experiences with physical and mental disorder and visualize them for others to witness. It is through portraiture that I explore the boundaries of self-expression and seek to understand the nature of mental illness, personal struggle, physical pain, and isolation. It’s with the conclusions I make through my work that I visualize the trials of my maladies and extend knowledge to the viewer and allow them a window into the realities of these conditions.

With photos as the starting point for my portraits I use the camera as a sketchbook. I often capture dozens of photos for only a single idea, sometimes pursuing bizarre means to make my ideas visual. Submerging myself in milk and pouring cake batter onto models are only a few ways that I have achieved the visuals I want. Working from these photos allows me the ability to enter into a flow-state, therapeutically creating work in a meditative state. The process of crafting these drawings allows me the chance to face my struggles through art, pulling myself further into them and allowing me the ability to accept my challenges and to help others understand theirs. It’s through my process that I become closer to my art and therefore closer to myself.


Shelby Scattergood is a photorealistic portrait artist specializing in works that capture the complicated evolution of mental and physical illness. Scattergood is an emerging artist who has exhibited throughout the Carolinas in galleries such as the African American Atelier, the Jones Carter Gallery, The Rob, and the CVA in Greensboro. 


Scattergood currently works and resides in Cary, NC.