Philip Shorey is a street performer and evangelist. Along with his wife Sari, they are the directors of “The Suitcase Sideshow“, a traveling marionette theater that brings a message of hope and love to the far corners of the world. Their shows explore the human condition and spiritual questions pertaining to faith in Jesus, and the theater works under a non-profit, so that it can act as a gift for those seeking change in their lives.

Last April Philip released Kill Your Art, a book that aids other artists with a similar calling and passion as “The Suitcase Sideshow”. This book talks about surrendering your art to God and collaborating with Him to create something that is more beautiful than what you can do on your own.



Philip Shorey, Author of “Kill your Art”

Camila: Please give us a short introduction about your past – when did you start busking?

Philip: I don’t remember when my affinity for busking began exactly, but I do remember serenading my peers down by the busses after high school on my melodica. During my time on cross-country they would call me “Homeless Phil,” and when I moved to Minneapolis, busking was my bread and butter downtown for a long time. I felt like I was a true “Rolling Stone” scoring random gigs at theaters and parties by performing in the streets.


C: When did you find Jesus, and when/why did you decide to incorporate the message into your art?

P: God revealed himself to me through Jesus in a way I could understand at an early age. I was growing up with my parents traveling show singing and performing puppets, and I can remember many visual and spiritual encounters with angels and Jesus. It always felt like love. It was very real to me, and still is.

It got confusing, however, when religion, legalism, and church didn’t line up with that same feeling. One day, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life and I got so confused. I cried out to God and said, “I want what you want. I’m done trying to work it out on my own.  Please save me from my plans.”

A few years later I was in Minneapolis busking on the street, eating out of dumpsters, riding freak bikes, and developing the music for a traveling circus that would share Jesus with people who would never step foot in a church for the same reasons I had growing up. Later after that, I developed the Suitcase Sideshow traveling marionette theater, and my life has never been the same.


C: What inspired you to write Kill your Art?

P: The thing that inspired me to write Kill Your Art is over ten years of surrendering my art to God in the street. The lives I have seen changed, the lessons I have learned, and how success has become right side up in light of an eternal perspective. I was in Istanbul with a street theater I planted many years ago, doing some training, and I felt in my spirit that a book like this needed to be written for my comrades, as well as for any other artist out there looking to give real eternal meaning and purpose to their craft in partnership with the greatest Creator in the universe.


Philip Shorey, The Suitcase Sideshow

C: Why did you choose “Kill your Art” as the title for your book?

P: Kill Your Art comes from the Bible verse, John 12:24 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  

Kill Your Art isn’t about making bad art.  It’s about allowing your art to truly live by surrendering it to the ultimate giver of creativity. Like clay being wielded to the potters hand.  Or like the book cover, paper being torn in a beautiful collage. This concept of letting it die, so that it can really live is written into nature. Like a seed, planted in the ground and letting it die in the street, so that God can give it new life, and new purpose, and delicious fruit.  

It’s not sad or dark like a knife going into a painting. It’s light-hearted and the best life possible. It starts with our hearts, letting go of our ways, our lusts, our dreams, and coming to that point where we finally trust that if God created me for a purpose, and knows me better than I know myself, and loves me enough to die for me, I can trust that his plans for me are good and I would love to collaborate with that in my art.


Kill Your Art artwork

C: Although I read the Kindle version, I noticed that the artwork is great! Who is the artist? Why did you choose this design?

P: The artwork for Kill Your Art was designed by my longtime friend – Sally Grayson.  She used to be in a band called Standby in Minneapolis, and now she is a working artist and has a band in Germany called BlackSwift. She is an incredible artist, speaker, busker, and like a sister in many ways. I wanted to find an artist that knew me, and would help me brainstorm the best visuals to represent the book’s overarching theme.

We wanted the cover to be fun to contrast the title. It’s a two-fold message; the title represents the “die to yourself”, or the cross idea, and the imagery represents life, excitement, and the resurrection concepts. We didn’t mean it literally, like a knife in a painting, but metaphoric. It’s vibrant and celebratory because that’s what being a messenger of Jesus Christ is all about. It’s the best life possible.

We decided that a lighthearted collage work would best suit the “surrendering” concept of the book. Each piece of paper was torn and killed for a greater purpose as an example for how we as artists can surrender our art for a greater purpose.

We went with vintage street performers because that is the style of the Suitcase Sideshow marionette theater. The Monty Python hands and strings represent direction coming from the heavens. The actual book has these collage works scattered throughout the book, whereas the kindle does not.


C: What was the timeframe for writing Kill your Art? Was it an easy book to write?

P: I compiled about ten years of journaling for this book, so the process was about four months, but then another year to find collaborators to build, edit, and design the book. It was really hard. I am a terrible speller, and my grammar is not good. I fully believe I am the last person in the world qualified to write a book, and if anything good comes from this work, it’s not because of my doing, but because of something else working through me.


C: What’s the most interesting thing that happened in the process?

P: My computer was stolen in Minneapolis, which would have put me back months, and would have completely altered flow of the final book. After almost completely giving up hope, the police recovered my computer at a pawnshop with all my files, all my photos, and nothing damaged or tampered with!  To me this was a complete miracle and confirmation that this project needed to happen.


C: What shaped your creation process more: being a busker? Being an evangelist?

P: Being a messenger of the gospel definitely shaped my process more for writing this book. Busking is just one of many manifestations that the concepts in this book can be played out. I understand not every artist should be a busker, but busking was the path in which I learned to humble myself, and surrender all that I do to the great Creator.


Philip Shorey, The Suitcase Sideshow


C: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice? What about busking?

P: Yes, both. I don’t think God only lives in a building, nor do I think clergy are in any means more spiritual due to their religious title. No matter what normal people do, play sports, music, write, cook, or raise children… when we ask God to come into our lives, forgive us for where we have failed, and change us to be bringers of light in a dark and dying world, our job can become the exact vehicle God uses to bring about real change in those around us, not just spare change in our hat.

I have seen so many incredible happenings come from my little show. In Brazil we were asked by a public school teacher to perform for her school and share on the message of our show to bring real answers to the terrible situations there.  Also in Brazil I was asked to perform in a brothel four times to aid the local church workers to help these women find hope and a future for a new life in Christ. In Poland, I saw a juvenile jail go from stale to vibrant over the course of a few years after the workers received Christ from seeing my show.  

The list goes on and on of the amazing stories God can do with our small talents if we allow him to.  He can do a lot with a little.


C: Are you planning on releasing other books after Kill your Art?

P: I just released a vampire comic about Jesus last month called Curse of the Vampire. It’s available on Etsy. I also plan to release another book within the next couple of years called Travelogues of a Family Sideshow. It is a biography of five generations in my family spanning over 100 years using puppets to share a message of God’s love.


C: Lastly, any advice for buskers out there who might be interested in following in your footsteps?

P: Take courage, be bold, take risks, and persevere. Read the book of Acts and the words of Jesus because they are about to become more alive than ever before.



About the book…

What makes Kill Your Art different is that it is a powerful tool of transformation; it will undoubtedly help other artists, regardless of their discipline, discover different ways of engaging their spirituality and their art, and stop keeping them in separate boxes.

Whether or not you’re a believer, this book may just turn your whole life around.


Kill your Art

Kill Your Art: Heart over Art (Excerpt)

I hear a lot of people get really upset at Christian artists and how bad and below par Christian music, movies, and art seem to be in the industry.

First of all, I disagree with the notion that Christian artistry is all below par. The famous sculptor Roy Adzak once said, “Good art is not what it looks like, but what it does to us.” There is good and bad art on both sides.

Secondly, people express opinions such as, “Look in the Bible and how the Ark of the Covenant was this beautiful work of art. The Temple was a wonder of the world in its splendor. Noah’s ark was way ahead of its time. These works of art reflected the greatest Artist in the universe, so shouldn’t Christian art be leading the industry in creativity because we reflect his image too?”

Well, don’t get me wrong; I believe we as messengers of the gospel should always do our best as a form of worship to the true Creator. He is the source of all creativity, and we reflect his image. But, if your idea of greatness and success comes from measuring creativity by a worldly standard of tickets and albums sold, then yes, it would seem like we should be leading the industry.

However, as followers of Jesus, our definition of success does not look that way. It looks very different. When Noah’s ark, the Temple, and the Ark of the Covenant were constructed, it wasn’t the art that pleased God the most. It was an obedient heart (Exodus 36:1,5 39:1,5,7,26,31,43). The workers did exactly as God commanded, and because of that, they were successful.

Sometimes when we do what God asks, it will look grandiose to the eye, cutting edge, and will reach thousands, but other times, it won’t. It might look small, insignificant, or foolish. It might look like a street performance for a small Roma community in Poland surrounded by mangy little dogs. But if it is done in obedience to God, it will achieve its mind-blowing eternal impact. How wonderful a privilege it is to be a part of God’s great work here on earth, no matter the size or aesthetic appeal! I can’t imagine using my life and skills for anything less.