Artist, Conservationist, Film Producer
To see the world, you must Roam like an Elephant. Elephants are majestic creatures and my art is an interpretation of emotions. Stories that challenge the mind, question cultural norms, and present alternative perspectives on life and our purpose on this earth. This above all is the deliberate nature of my projects. – Matt Shapira
Photo by: Kim Shapira-Ochacher
I recently discovered Matt Shapira and his heartfelt designs through one eye-catching moment. He posted the below sketch on Facebook and named his work, The Greeting Giraffe. The giraffe’s eyes spoke volumes to me as they were full of care, compassion…with a plea for serenity, a plea for survival.
There has been a 70% decline in wildlife numbers since the 1970s as a direct result of poaching and a fight for resources. “As the world expands, the world for wildlife contracts.” (Ed Yong, The Last Giraffes on Earth). Like so many other wild animals, giraffes are facing a silent extinction.
This little guy captured my heart and I was compelled to contact Matt to inquire about purchasing this sketch. I will soon display him on my office wall to serve as a continued reminder that our wildlife needs each and everyone of us to get involved and fight for their survival.
As I explored his other works of art, I quickly discovered he is not only an artist, but an active conservationist, and filmmaker. He is known for traveling the world and painting his unique style of elephants to raise money and awareness for the species. As a filmmaker, he focuses on social concepts and the nature of the human spirit. As a welcomed addition, his art always appears in his movies. As a Film Director, Matt has two exciting film productions in 2020:
Four years ago, Matt founded Roaming Elephant Productions and has since created over 650 paintings and over 30 murals worldwide. His art focuses on many different animals, but his primary focus is on the earth’s elephants, our gentle giants.
"From There on My Way Here"
I was inspired to learn that all his projects have a charity and donation attached. The mission of Roaming Elephant Productions is to:
“Create with an eye towards entertaining and providing inspiration. Telling stories is a passion of Matt’s. Connecting people with a cause and finding ways to discuss important social and humanitarian issues. Whether in Film or on a canvas, Matt hopes to share his expressions in such a way as to make a difference.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), poachers slaughter close to 20,000 elephants each year in Africa for their tusks. In 2017, China banned elephant ivory trade; however, the poaching epidemic continues due to the high demand for ivory primarily in the Asian markets.Through his paintings, Matt brings attention, awareness and funding to these majestic creatures as well as other endangered animals, such as the critically endangered rhinoceros.
Elephants need our voices now more than ever. These majestic creatures are vulnerable to extinction due to illegal poaching for their ivory. They represent among other things, compassion, empathy and an extension of our ancient world. I consider all living things a citizen of the planet. I feel it is my calling and duty to do whatever I can, however I can, to protect the lives of these magnificent creatures. – Matt Shapira
As a native of California, Matt lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied Art History and Political Science at Tulane University in New Orleans. Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, and many other great impressionists helped nurture and inspire his post-impressionist brush stroke.
His murals span across the globe which include places like India, England, Thailand, Nepal, Zambia, France, Jamaica, Wales, and the United States. He is actively engaged in conservation efforts and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for elephant conservation groups around the world.
"Seeing an elephant on a wall is a gentle nudge for us to give a voice to those who are without a voice. We can make a change and do our part to protect all the wildlife that are endangered one kind and compassionate act and choice at a time." – Matt Shapria
Photo by: David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
In 2017, Matt participated in the Cafe Quarter’s 25th anniversary by painting a “neglected wall into a breathtaking mural of an elephant” at the Marriot Hotel in Cardiff.
Photo by: City Life Photographer
Matt won the top prize at the 2019 Niagara Falls International Film Festival for his film, Big Muddy, and he showcased “The Reason.” The community was thrilled to have received a mural of elephants painted by Matt on the walls of the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls.
Photo by: James Neiss
“I feel it is my calling and duty to do whatever I can, however I can, to protect the lives of these magnificent creatures. In an effort to help spread the message of conservation for these majestic beings, I've begun a mission to paint canvases and murals all over the world. Showcasing my work of elephants to all, and working with NGO's, as well as conservations, and sanctuaries to raise funds and awareness for their cause.” - Matt Shapira
“Satya the Elephant.” Sanskrit word for “truthfulness"
Roaming Elephant Productions’ global mission is to bring awareness and funds to the conservation of elephants. I encourage everyone to watch this beautiful video, Roaming Elephant Masks. Matt asks the question,
“How can someone in their own existence make a difference, make a change? For me, art is that. Art connects people. Animals embody love, and when art cross-connects with animals, we find compassion. We find empathy."
For each mask sold, 35% of sales are donated to elephant sanctuaries in Africa, India, and Thailand. To support, please explore his official Roaming Elephant Journey website, where you can find a beautiful selection of scarves, journals, bandannas, and leggings.
It’s been a pleasure and inspiration learning more about Matt and his beautiful art over the past few weeks, and I truly appreciate his permission for allowing me to write this very brief article.
From what I have discovered, Matt has a beautiful, introspective soul with a huge elephant heart...One who works tirelessly to bring awareness and financial support to our wildlife across the globe. Thank you Matt!
To purchase Matt’s sketches and paintings, or commission for a mural, you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow Matt on Facebook and Instagram (@roaming_elephant). He often posts his new paintings that are available for sale!
If you would like to learn more about Matt, follow his journey, and be the first to know about his upcoming film productions, please visit:
Roaming Elephant Productions: http://www.roamingelephantproductions.com/
Roaming Elephant Journey and Online Shopping: https://www.theroamingelephantjourney.com/
Interviews & Videos