Ian is currently a self-employed writer and artist. When Ian had finished his first degree at Cambridge University in England, he wasn't entirely sure what direction he wanted to take. After 2 years out of the academic environment, Ian decided to carry on with his education. Living in Toronto at the time, he ended up being advised to look into the Department of Renewable Resources, given his spectrum of interests. Ian recalls receiving the annual report for the department, and reading through the introductory biographies for the teaching staff. It was there that he read about Dr. Jim Butler. Ian felt like he was reading a profile that he aspired to have, or at the very least to study under and with. This led Ian to write to Dr. Butler introducing himself. After speaking with Dr. Butler on the phone for about five minutes he immediately knew that this was the advisor that he was seeking. Dr. Butler’s approach suited Ian, and his broad field of interests matched Ian’s in many ways. Ian also appreciated Dr. Butler’s perspective of integrating courses from other departments. Based on their brief conversation Ian moved up here from Toronto, and then hoped that he would actually be welcomed into the department's fold!
When Ian graduated he thought he would be coming back to the same department, and possibly extend his studies in southeast Asia, working on social and cultural issues around environmental conservation. However, during his time at the U of A he managed to finance his studies with natural history publication and fine art. Upon graduating Ian realized that he already had a career well in place. Ian commented, “Doing a degree was not a waste of time - far from it. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole journey, and my exposure to wild lands in Thailand and the need for wild spaces in people, or biophilia, further entrenched my own need as an artist to portray the wonders of the natural world around me, either through educational books about nature, or through the pure celebratory purposes of landscape painting. Helping others to learn to love and embrace nature is immensely rewarding.“
Ian recently published Storm Chaser: Canadian Prairie Skyscapes (Argenta Press), a 168-page book featuring 83 of his paintings, which capture the dynamic and dramatic storm skyscapes that form over the prairie landscape. Several other publications include: 2010 – Creative Glass. Danijela Kracun & Chris McFadden, Schiffer Publishing; Ian Sheldon featured as 1 of 110 exceptional international artists creating unique working in glass; 2009 - Cambridge Footsteps – a passage through time. A collection of Ian Sheldon's watercolour paintings of the University of Cambridge compiled, designed and printed by Cambridge University Press, bound in a cloth hardcover and released in conjunction with the Press's 425th anniversary and the University's 800th anniversary; 2006 - Butterflies of British Columbia – illustrator; 2003 - Fish of Alberta - illustrator; 2002 - Bugs of Northern California – illustrator; 2001 - Bugs of British Columbia – illustrator; 2000 - Bugs of Alberta – illustrator; 1999 - Seashore of Northern and Central California – author and illustrator; 1998 - Seashore of British Columbia – author and illustrator; 1997 - Animal Tracks of the Rockies – author and illustrator.
Since publishing Storm Chaser, Ian very much sees himself remaining a champion for wild spaces through the visual and literary arts. However, he is not letting go of the illustration work either, and aims to complete a few more books yet with John Acorn. It seems that he has an endless stream of projects ahead that should keep him busy in perpetuity!