Digital artist reflects on gunslinger cousin

Jul 10, 2017 at 12:03 am by SchelleFire

The most important thing Shawn Backus, who goes by 3-DArena on, has learned from being related to a historical figure is that history remembers "for how people perceive us and not always for who we really are in our boring everyday," she said.

Backus is a fourth cousin of Wyatt Earp, the legendary lawman and gambler who took part in the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" in Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881.

"The reputation and the mythology of his persona has far surpassed who he was as a person," she said.

In the intervening years, Earp has been immortalized in countless TV shows and movies. He has been played by scores of actors from Jimmy Stewart to James Garner to Kurt Russell.

Backus hasn't been played by an A-list actress, but she is known the 3D modeling world for unique characters and quality assets.

Her passion began in 2001 when some colleagues in website development introduced her to Poser.

"I thought it would be a great way to create unique imagery for sites, but it just consumed everything and I stopped doing web design completely," she said.

Backus said she has a "fondness for color" and fashion that comes through in most of her products.

"I do enjoy working on characters and seeing them 'come to life' so to speak. I'm not very fast on them, I like to take my time and I often do them while working on other things," she said.

But it's her relation to Earp that has taught her an important life lesson.

"As a child, my father always taught us that one's name and reputation is what follows you. That these are things that are easily destroyed and can be remembered by the battles we choose, the things we stand for or against, and how we treat others," she said. "Because that may be all anyone remembers later."

Her relation to Earp brought that lesson home.

Earp wasn't the man depicted in the movie Tombstone or the TV show Deadwood. He was a buffalo hunter, saloon keeper, miner, boxing referee, gambler, and even a brothel keeper in addition to brief stints as a deputy and marshall.

"Being related to someone so famous for basically a singular event has always strengthened that teaching," she said. "History and Hollywood would never have remembered these men if not for that event."

This lesson has had a strong influence on Backus's life and outlook on the world. It even shows up in her designs and artistic philosophy.

"I have a built in button that seems to get pressed when things seem unevenly balanced. If I mess up and feel that I have been unfair to someone, it bothers me - greatly," she said.

This leads her to be a perfectionist in her work so she gives her customers the best possible 3D art from characters and scenes to clothing and hair.

"I feel a need to make it worth the money being spent on it, it's not just about the income or the ranking, it can't be about shortcuts because ultimately that's my name on the end result. This holds true of my work in this genre and when it comes to flipping homes," she said.

Before she found Poser more than 15 years ago, Backus would express herself by decorating her house.

"I'd start in one room and either paint or add murals to the walls. ... By the time I finished all the rooms I'd start all over again. My husband is a real catch to have put up with that," she said.

But now she channels her creativity and skills into glamorous and everyday fashions, along with figures, in a wide range of genre.

Contact SchelleFire at mwillard(at)

Sections: Artist Spotlight

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