Today we welcome illustrator Stephanie Brown of Faiint.com to Creative Fluff. She has been kind enough to grant us an interview about her work. Stephanie is a london based illustrator who has made the jump from the corporate life to freelancing. Her consistent style and constant strides for improvement peg her as an artist to keep an eye out for in 2012. Check out her work below and make sure to read to the end if you want to find out more about Stephanie or her work.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your history. Why did you decide you wanted to pursue illustration as a career?
I have always been very creative, since I can remember Iâ€™ve wanted to be an artist, but when I finished school and was deciding on what course to take for college, for some reason I decided to do something that was more like a â€˜properâ€™ job and choose fashion design. I guess as opposed to â€˜starving artistâ€™! I did fashion for 2 years at college and totally fell in love with it, came away with top class marks and decided thatâ€™s what I wanted to do, so I applied to University and got accepted onto the Fashion Design course. I knew after my first year there that I hated it, but being stubborn, I stuck it out for the full 3 years to get the degree I needed, thinking itâ€™d be worth it to land my dream job. It had made me seriously ill from the constant pressure and stress, I couldnâ€™t cope at all. I came away from it as though all my passion and enthusiasm for it had just been sucked out, I went from feeling it was the only thing I could see myself being happy doing to feeling like I couldnâ€™t imagine doing anything worse for a career. Looking back, I realise it was the University and the course I hated not the subject and I wish I had left or transferred to a different University after my first year, whilst I still had some enthusiasm left. I needed a break from fashion, so I fell back onto my first real passion, something Iâ€™d neglected for 6 years whilst Iâ€™d been studying and decided that I was just going to jump in the deep end with it and hope for the best!
Q: Do you have any artistic influences? Where do you draw your work’s inspiration from.
My favourite artists are Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, William Blake, Caravaggio and Salvador Dali, I also love DaVinciâ€™s sketches, so I guess they have all had quite a large impact on my personal style in one way or another. Iâ€™m a huge lover of comics and graphic novels, mostly horror, superheroes and sci-fi, I think this is probably the most obvious influence that people notice in my work. Iâ€™m also extremely inspired by the graphic simplicity of Japanese woodblock prints, especially the folklore themed ones. I love the mix of blocked colours and subtle gradients, and how they seem both ancient and yet contemporary at the same time. I think my fashion education has influenced my style a little too, especially fashion photography. My love of science and nature are another part I think is quite an obvious influence, I would have loved to have been a physicist or biologist, but I could never do the math required, the universe, anatomy and evolution just fascinate me beyond words and I try to include a little of this in my work.
Q: I can’t help but notice a gritty macabre tone mixed with surrealism in your work. How would you describe your own style?
In everything I do, I like there to be contrast and contradiction. I would say itâ€™s soft but hard, hand drawn yet digital and yeah, there is definitely an underlying macabre tone to it. Iâ€™m quite a dark person, I always find myself drawn to things that are quite morbid, so I think that is always going to seep through into my personal work, even when itâ€™s unintentional. I never really thought about the surrealism aspect, but now you mention it there is a little of that too, Surrealism & Dada are two of my favourite movements, especially surrealist cinema & the photography of Man Ray & Lee Miller, so I guess it just came about subconsciously.
Q: Do you have any awesome illustration projects on the horizon that you’d like to share with us?
I have quite a few exciting things that Iâ€™m currently and have been working on, but unfortunately I canâ€™t show any of them just yet, as theyâ€™re a little way off being published! Sorry!
Q: Are you interested in any other style of art outside illustration?
My first love always has and always will be fine art, Iâ€™m the type of person that goes on holiday and spends most of my time in galleries! I could talk all day about art, and itâ€™s where the majority of my inspiration comes from. Honestly, Iâ€™m interested in most things that can be considered art, I love photography, architecture, literature, poetry and obviously fashion. Iâ€™d consider movies and music art too, Iâ€™m a huge movie buff and music has always been a massive influence. Iâ€™m a bit of a Japanophile anyway, but I have a real soft spot for Anime and Manga too, I started getting quite into it when I was around 12-13, and that lead me into comics too. Before I mostly painted and did very realistic sketches, I loved the distinctive style, like nothing Iâ€™d seen before and I soon started trying to copy it and put my own spin on it. I think thatâ€™s the point at which my work took a more illustrative turn, I was no longer focusing on it being photo realistic, it was more about character, facial expression, posture, subtle details like that. I think if it hadnâ€™t have been for that, I would have turned out to be a more traditional painter, rather than an illustrator.
Q: Do you ever collaborate with other artists?
Iâ€™ve collaborated with others before, but none since actually going freelance. Iâ€™m always interested in working with people with exciting ideas or projects though!
Q: What are your goals now and in the future? Do you want to be featured in galleries? Magazines?
My goals currently are just to keep refining and experimenting with my style, I feel itâ€™s quite distinctive already, but Iâ€™ve been away from illustrating for so long that thereâ€™s so much I want to try with it. I want to paint more too, Iâ€™ve missed that a lot. Iâ€™m mostly focusing on getting my work published in magazines, but Iâ€™d really like to get involved with doing gig posters, album covers, that kinda thing too. Hopefully in the process I can make a bit of a name for myself, Iâ€™d love to do a gallery show with similar artists in the future.
Q: Finally, do you have any advice for illustrators looking to delve into the freelance world?
I think it would have to be, just go for it! Thinking about going freelance is the scariest part, you just have to take the plunge! I think thereâ€™s nothing worse than wondering â€˜what if?â€™ I didnâ€™t want to look back in 50 years time, having been in a job I never really enjoyed for my entire life and just wish Iâ€™d had the courage to do something I was truly passionate about. At least now, even if it doesnâ€™t work out and it turns out I wasted a couple of years getting nowhere, Iâ€™ll have no regrets. Being freelance is hard work, itâ€™s not as stable as having a â€˜realâ€™ job, others often assume youâ€™re just slacking off and arenâ€™t busy as you donâ€™t have a â€˜properâ€™ job and there are going to be times your totally broke, but personally I think itâ€™s worth it to be able to wake up each day and get to do something you really enjoy doing. Oh, and being able to do it from home, in your PJâ€™s is a huge plus!