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About the Artist

Shawn FishingShawn Davis is originally from Ithaca, New York.  His education includes a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.A.T. from UNC-Chapel Hill.  He resides in State College, Pennsylvania with his beautiful wife and two young sons, and teaches chemistry by day.  In addition to tying full-dress salmon flies, he also enjoys tying and fishing practical flies, and catches most of his fish on patterns of his own invention.

Shawn is also my brother, and I’ve had the unique privilege of being in a position to closely observe and participate in his flyfishing and flytying journeys.  Despite growing up in a family full of outdoorsmen, Shawn never showed any interest in fishing of any kind.  Even when I and his younger brother Brian discovered the magical world of flyfishing, he remained uninterested.  Despite his lack of excitement for any outdoor sports, though, I always felt that flyfishing and flytying would captivate Shawn if he would only allow himself to be introduced to their charm.  Because of this I made repeated efforts to include him in my excursions, but he would always politely refuse my overtures.

In the Spring of 1996, Shawn, our brother Brian, and a couple of our cousins decided to get together and plan a summer trip to Montana.  About a week before they left for that trip, Shawn approached me and asked whether I would be willing to quickly go over some flyfishing basics with him – it suffices to say I was shocked but delighted!  He explained that he just “didn’t think it would be right” if he visited Montana and didn’t at least make a token effort to flyfish while out there.  Still not quite infected with my enthusiasm, he made it quite clear that a couple of quick lessons would be all he’d need, and much to my disappointment, he still declined my invitations to actually go fishing a couple of times before their trip.  Apparently, however, Shawn came to realize on that trip what I had known all along, because immediately upon his return he began flyfishing obsessively, and obsessive flytying was not far behind.

Shawn found an old flytying book on our parents’ bookshelf, began teaching himself how to tie, and quickly outpaced my own skills in that arena.  At first content to develop practical flies for the sole purpose of catching trout and salmon, Shawn found his talents leading him to full-dress salmon flies.  In the year 2002 he began designing jewelry-quality hooks and tinsels for his artistic flies.  From those first rudimentary hook-making sessions to today, Shawn has spent countless hours honing his jewelry-making and flytying skills.  Five years later, he finally released the first of those artistic flies to the public.  To this day, he has never received any formal flytying instruction, choosing to either learn techniques from a small supply of books or, more often, develop his own techniques to suit his needs.

As I taught Shawn simple fly-casting back in 1996, I had no idea that one day I’d be witnessing the beautiful works of art represented here, but I’m certainly not surprised at the direction and distance that his passions have carried him.  Shawn has always been at once creative, focused, and incredibly disciplined – he loves challenges, and once he takes on a challenge he embraces and pursues it fully.  Flyfishing, and to an even greater extent flytying, are pursuits that appeal to his nature because they are endeavors that are infinitely challenging and offer infinite possibilities for creativity.  As the rest of us stand in awe of Shawn’s creations, I know that he is hard at work refining his craft ever further, exploring, as artists do, the limitless possibilities of both his own creativity and the medium through which he's chosen to express it.

– Duane Davis

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