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Maggie Stephenson

A sincere artist and a lover of art and drawing in all their forms. Here, for TheCornerZine, Maggie Stephenson will tell us about her passion, her works and how the inspiration can come from the smallest things in life, if we are able to see them. Keep reading to know more!

Hi Maggie! Can you tell us how your passion for drawing and illustration was born?

Art has always been a big part of my life. When I was a little girl, artistic tools were always available. Painting was usually my go to activity, which my family highly encouraged. Later on in life, art as hobby was predominant. It never occurred to me that I could pursue it as a career also. In my early 30s, I found myself at a crossroads, not knowing where to go in life, unsure of what career to pursue. I suppose the only thing I was confident in was art, so in my mind that was the only option. Once I made the decision to focus on art as a career, it sparked my artistic passion more than ever before. I feel truly blessed to be able to do what I love for a job. It keeps me motivated.

Maggie Stephenson

All forms of art are equal in my opinion. They all carry ideas and inspiration. Being exposed to someone’s heart and thoughts in this way, regardless of what art form it’s represented by, is a beautiful thing.

To me, the style of your drawings vaguely recalls Picasso. Is it just my impression, or do you draw inspiration from him? Anyway, are there other artists you’re inspired by? Or, maybe, even a different kind of art that helps you find inspiration?

I’ve always been drawn to simple joys of life. Moments, feelings, people or places. I think a lot of that can be found in Picasso’s art. People being in the moment and amongst nature. Someone enjoying another’s company. Some of the most beautiful things in life. Additionally, Picasso’s use of cubism, color and abstraction is something I’m naturally drawn to. I am most definitely inspired by his works, as well as many other artists. A couple of my favorites being Hundertwasser and Matisse.

What's the most rewarding part of your job? Which, on the other hand, is the most stressful one and that poses the most obstacles to overcome?

Whether I’m working for a client or creating for me, the most rewarding part is seeing things come to life after a sometime lengthy process of planning, color picking and composition. Watching a piece come together from nothing is very motivating in itself. It gets me excited about the entire process. The most stressful part can be tight deadlines because sometimes you can’t restrict creativity with time. Thankfully that doesn’t happen often and things always work out.

Now that you’ve been on the art scene for a while, what advice would you give to an emerging illustrator?

Don’t question your abilities and don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t let creative ruts discourage you. If you find yourself hitting a creative block, ride it out. Inspiration will strike again and you’ll come back refocused and with more clarity to tackle future work. Keep going, moving forward and don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s all part of creative growth and you will be grateful for it.

What's the biggest obstacle not only for an illustrator, but for any content creator, in the fast overabundant society we now live in?

I believe the biggest obstacle would be coming up with new ideas, color palettes and creating something that hasn’t been seen before. Sometimes I wonder, have all the paintings already been painted? It’s not easy to create new innovative work but frankly I try not to focus on that because that’s an intimidating issue to take on. Rather than focusing on obstacles, I try to stay within the proactive zone of creating without worrying or overanalyzing.

You often depict nature and the human figure. Is there a meaning behind this stylistic choice, a particular story to tell? Are you going to change styles and subjects in the future?

What I think it comes down to, is an emotion, something I feel that in turn inspires and creates ideas. Ultimately I think that art and feelings are inseparable and are found in nature and the human figure. I draw most of my inspiration from these things and at this time don’t see myself changing styles. Nevertheless I don’t think it’s possible to stay within the same style throughout all of one’s life. I believe that as time goes on, I will continue working on and refining shapes and fluidity. Same goes for color palettes and composition, which may lead to shifts in style and subject matter.

What historical or famous painting would you’ve wished you painted, and what fascinates you about it?

It would no doubt be Van Gogh’s “Café Terrace at Night”. Growing up, many family members had a print of it in their homes and I always felt drawn to it. The use of color contrasts, night and light, the way the light pulls you into the warmth of the café. It’s one of those pieces that makes you feel something just by looking at it. What could possibly be better than art that evokes emotion?

Building on art history for a moment, do you think it's necessary to know it for modern visual artistic professions? Or is it enough to rely on the practical and essential knowledge of the web?

As someone who hasn’t spend much time in art history, naturally I would say that it’s not necessary. However, I can’t say for sure since I can only speak for myself and that in itself would lack objectivity. What works for me, may not work for someone else. We all work in different ways and require unique tools to help us move forward. Whether one is or isn’t able to progress with or without this knowledge is up to every creative individual to decide for themselves.

What do you think about hand-drawing and the partial (or total) use of digital tools, as for the final method of your works? Which one do you prefer, aside from your work?

Frankly I have no preference when it comes to other’s works. Creativity can be expressed in many different ways and when I find myself drawn to a piece, how it was created is not something I focus on. I tend to admire it for what it is.

Nowadays, where do you think the strength of drawings and paintings lies, if compared to other more popular and modern forms of art? What makes people admire a drawing or go to a museum, in your opinion?

All forms of art are equal in my opinion. They all carry ideas and inspiration. Being exposed to someone’s heart and thoughts in this way, regardless of what art form it’s represented by, is a beautiful thing. I guess the beauty of looking at something that was created in this way, is what draws people to galleries and museums. Exposing oneself to color, emotion, experiences that other individuals created for other’s to see.

What's your relationship with social networks? In addition to using them for work, do you also use them to get to know some of your colleagues in the art world or to discover artistic innovations?

Social networks are a wonderful tool to stay connected and motivated. I love seeing my colleagues create new works, see them succeed in their creative journeys. It’s a motivator in itself to be surrounded by people that are so driven by their professions and passions. I’m very thankful to have met some incredible people through social media, that I otherwise would have never met.

Moving on to fashion, how would you describe your style? Do you have any must haves? Do you like to follow trends?

As colorful as my art is, my personal style is very simple and uncomplicated. I prefer neutrals, a lot of black, grays and earth tones. I don’t like to follow trends but rather pick pieces that I see myself wearing without overthinking and without having to plan an outfit. Must have would be items that you can mix and match effortlessly. Neutral pants, a good pair of jeans, long skirts combined with plain tees. I love Doc Marten’s and Birkenstock’s. You can dress them up or down.

Going back to your career, if you could put on a podium the 3 best moments of your career, what would they be?

The moment when I picked up art supplies, decided to go for it and make art my career. Best decision I’ve ever made. The moment when I decided to try digital tools. It pushed me further and taught me something completely new. Stepping out of my comfort zone in this way, opened up more doors than I ever could have dreamed of. And most of all the moment when I stopped worrying about whether my art would be liked and well perceived. When I started to create what I wanted to create, rather than worrying about if my work would be enjoyed by others, was a fundamental step in my career. Looking inward, rather than outward, fuels my passion and inspiration.

Do you have any special projects you're working on?

So many exciting projects that are a beautiful medley of multiple collaborations and ideas. I prefer not to speak of current projects and collaborations until they have come to full fruition, but once they do, it’s an amazing feeling of completion.

Let’s end with a question about your future life and career: do you still have dreams that you'd like to see fulfilled?

A simple dream of wanting to continue to create, whether for myself or in collaboration with new motivated clients. There is nothing better than taking on a new project and watching it grow from start to finish. If I can do that for the rest of my life, than that in itself would be a dream come true.

Keep going, moving forward and don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s all part of creative growth and you will be grateful for it.