Art Shirley was born in West Point, Mississippi, the first child of Jim and Judy Shirley. He was named after his father, who decided to call his son by his middle name to help keep things straight, and not named because of any aptitude for drawing, as Art would later tell folks.
With Jim in the Navy, the family moved around in the early years spending time in Hawaii and Meridian and adding Art’s sisters, Susan and Beth along the way.
After leaving the Navy, the Shirleys settled in Leland, Mississippi, and it was here that Art really developed his love for comics and cartooning. His first published work was a somewhat autobiographical strip featuring Art and his friend, George which ran in the high school newspaper.
When Art was in 10th grade, the family moved again, first for a brief stay in Long Beach, Mississippi then returning to West Point where Art graduated from West Point High School.
To keep things simple, Art majored in Art at the University of Mississippi. For three and a half of his four and a half years at Ole Miss, Art drew a well-received daily strip, Ernie, Skip and Joe, for the Daily Mississippian.
After graduating with a BA in Art from Ole Miss, Art spent a year finding just the right job–one where someone said “Okay, we’ll hire you”. That job turned out to be SGI in Memphis where Art worked as a production artist and designer. During his six years in Memphis, Art married the former Becky Rodgers also of West Point. Their first son, Will, was born in Memphis, and deciding to take advantage of a large family of baby sitters, Art’s family moved back to West Point.
In the twenty years that Art’s been back in West Point he’s worked at Bryan Foods as a designer and manager of the company’s print shop. He worked for Mossy Oak Camo as a creative director, video producer and video graphics designer. A second son, Drew was born a couple of years after moving back to West Point.
Art worked for 11 years at Quest Group where he served as the ad agency’s creative director.In this role, he’s been able to use many of the skills he’s picked up over the years including doing the occasional cartoon illustration.
He continued in this role for a year at Tellos Creative which formed after Quest split, before moving to Mississippi State University Extension where he serves as the Web Communications Manager for Agricultural Communications.
Through the years, Art has also contributed cartoons to newspapers, trade magazine and websites and created many tshirt designs. He is currently enjoying a wave of good reception for a self-published comic book featuring a hero he created in his teens and an editorial cartoon on the Weather Channel’s alleged Land Mass gaffe which was Art’s first cartoon to go viral.
He had a second viral experience (that sounds strange) in April 2013 when a friend posted Art’s cartoon marking the death of film critic, Roger Ebert to George Takei’s Facebook page. George even commented on the cartoon.
With both sons now in college -Will at Ole Miss and Drew at Mississippi State-Art hopes to do more with his cartooning including a comic book sequel, a collection of Ernie, Skip and Joe cartoons, and trying to find the NEXT viral cartoon, but will have to clear that with Becky first. He is also working on an animated movie based on the first Jack Quasar comic.