October 17, 2007

Stephanie Levy

Full name: Stephanie Levy
Location: Munich, Germany
Web site: www.stephanielevy.com

What do you create?
I create collages and illustrations depicting fictional interior settings. I use a variety of materials in my collages, ranging from patterned Japanese and Indian papers, gold leaf, glass beads, and transparent gel papers. The drawings are completed using permanent inks and acrylic paint and are then incorporated into the collages. Handmade papers, wooden blocks, or canvases are used as supports.

When and why did you decide to start your business?
I have been interested in making art since I was a child. I received my formal training as an artist at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. After I moved to Europe, I completed a Master of Arts program at the Berlin University of the Arts.

My art has changed quite a bit in style over the years, but my interest in interiors as subject matter and the use of mixed media collage has remained. My current work has a more graphic and abstracted quality, which lends itself well to reproduction in printed form. Most originals have a small- to medium-sized format, making them easy to send by post to exhibitions around the world and to ship out to online customers.

For me, creating the art comes first; the process of turning my art into a “business” is still developing. The fact that many new galleries are now selling artwork through online shops is a fantastic development. This makes art much more accessible to a larger public. Recently, I have had wonderful feedback from the art and design blog community. I am very positive and excited by the new opportunities opening up for artists on the Internet through online shops, and this is where I intend to expand the “business” side of my art in the future.

Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
I originally become interested in using interiors as subject matter in my art because of my family history. My grandfather was a fourth generation Irish carpenter, who also designed many of the houses he built. I grew up seeing house plans, and one of my family’s favorite activities was drawing up “fictional” plans of their dream houses. In art school, I realized that this was something special about my family that had influenced my artistic sensibilities.
I began to draw my own house plans, which later evolved into interior spaces. The first paintings and collages were based on the rooms in the house where my grandfather lived –
a house he designed and built himself.

Currently, I am inspired by images of “fictional interiors” that I find in design catalogs and magazines. I call them “fictional” because the photographs are mostly of rooms no one actually inhabits.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
I love collecting unusual papers and other materials to incorporate into the collages. Each piece of art should be one of a kind and have something exquisite and unusual to enchant the viewer. Combining the different elements – the ink drawings, the acrylic paintings, and the various collage materials – is a big challenge when I make a new piece, but also a lot of fun.

What keeps you motivated?
The personal kick I get out of creating new artwork is very motivational. Of course, when someone else likes my art, and especially if someone wants to purchase my work, it is a great motivation to go on producing more. Art is a communicative medium, and I am happy when I can delight someone else. An exciting aspect of the Internet is that you can simultaneously reach out to so many people in all corners of the globe.

How do you get the word out about your work?
Several art and design blogs have been great about promoting my work. I have to thank decor8, poppytalk, crust station, modish, emmas design blogg, mixed plate, oh joy!, designers block, beach bungalow 8, coco + kelley, imedagoze, bloesem, and now Crafty Synergy to name a few for posting my work and helping me reach a larger audience with my website. Also, galleries like SQFT and Artstream with their online shops are important in reaching clients and collectors.

What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
My main goal in the next 6-12 months is to increase my sales by offering my work on various online sites. I intend to open up an Etsy shop, and I want to begin selling prints/multiples of my work. I also plan to increase my contacts with galleries and illustration agencies.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
Love what you do and approach it with passion! It is hard work, so you will need plenty of drive, determination, and energy to make your dreams come true.

What is the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?
Each piece of art is created with good will, is one of a kind, and is something unique which will hopefully add a little sparkle to their lives.

Who are some of your favorite indie designers/artists?
There are many, many talented artists out there making a name for themselves through the Internet. A couple of the most productive artists whose work I admire are Lisa Congdon, Camilla Engman, and Kelly Lynn Jones. My friend Anna Maria Horner creates wonderful designs for textiles and other products, and still manages to have time for her five children.
I find her very inspiring.

If you had the time, what new craft/medium would you like to learn or use?
I plan to expand my portfolio to include woodblock prints. I have the materials, now I just need to find the time to make the work!

What’s your definition of a perfect day?

My perfect day would begin with sleeping late (this means until 9 am with two small children, if we are lucky), taking a walk in the park along the river, enjoying a picnic with lots of delicious homemade goodies, perhaps a stopping for a cappuccino or a glass of wine in an outdoor café on the way home, spending relaxed time with my family, a sunset.

Thank you Stephanie!

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