Greetings dear friends. This morning has been a challenge getting this post to you. The forces have been against me because this is such golden information for you burgeoning artists who are seeking the dream of crafting your own business. So without further delay, this is my interview with the very talented artist, Stephanie Ryan.
I know you, Stephanie as an artist from your blog Small Sweet Steps ,but would love to learn more about your background. Would you tell us a little of your story of coming to fruition?
My story or journey started many years ago and has been filled with up and downs. I have worn many hats in my career including doll maker for 11 years, product manager, stationery designer, dinnerware designer, product designer and now finally, artist. I have been very lucky because I feel that each job I have had over the years has taught me important lessons not only about the work I was doing, but about life and the importance of valuing people and following your dreams no matter what obstacles stand in your way.
Do you have a day job or are you a full time art maker? If so, how do you balance the two?
I currently work full-time for Kathy Davis Studios. Kathy Davis is one of the best selling greeting card designers in the country. As her brand designer, I am responsible for many things but the best part of my job is creating patterns from her artwork, styling and photographing mood boards and product shots for use on her blog and licensing presentations.
is a tricky thing these days. I am pretty tired most of the time but it
is worth it. The joy that I get from exploring my own art over this
past year has been priceless and has given me a new sense of purpose in
In my spare time, I work as a freelance dinnerware designer for Lenox and in what little time is left, I am pursuing my dreams of creating and sharing my art and inspiration.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning to pursue their passion?
It has taken me a long time to finally figure out my true passion. I have always worked for other people creating art to meet their visions and never thought that I could be doing that for myself. There has been an awakening inside of me over the past couple of years that has finally started to manifest into a new purposeful kind of life for me. It has taken me a lifetime to deal with my self-worth and self-doubt issues. My advice to everyone trying to find their purpose and passion in life is to clear your mind of all negative self-talk. Be present and see yourself for the perfect person that you are. Develop a positive mantra or affirmation and keep repeating it. “ I can do this” is mine. Then start taking small sweet steps in the direction you want to go in. Try not to focus too much on the future because it can be overwhelming and makes it easier for the negative thoughts to come in. Stay present, be positive, and love yourself. That is half the battle.
What are the small sweet steps that you take daily to work toward your creative goals?
I remind myself every morning while I am driving to work that there is purpose in all things and every step I take is getting me closer to the life I dream of. I make time everyday, no matter how tired I am to move the energy forward. This may sound crazy, but I do most of my work in bed! Yes, I paint in bed, I blog in bed, I even wood burn in bed. I do whatever I have to do to be happy and create. For me, that works. The thought of coming home from an eight hour long day of sitting behind a computer and going into my studio to work is just too darn hard. So, I created an environment and situation that works for me. Last, I try to end everyday with gratitude. This can be a challenging thing after a long hard day but it is worth it. It tells the universe that you appreciate all that you have and reminds us of how lucky we really are.
What would you say to Gathering Spriggs readers about the importance of
community for an artist?
I cannot stress how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded, supportive, inspiring, bright glowing souls. When you are down, they lift you up and more importantly when you get the opportunity to lighten someone else’s day.... wow, the power that comes from that is amazing. Community will keep you moving forward and it will empower you and keep you connected. Of course, it is also a great way to market yourself and get your name known, but I like to focus more on the other side of it and look at it as a way to meet new friends and extraordinary people.
Can you tell us a little about your media and process? (without giving away all your secrets)
Process.... it depends on the piece and medium I am working in. For the floral watercolors, I paint intuitively. I work from my imagination and try not to look at reference. It is more about shape and color. I lay down color and add new color to that and let the medium do it’s thing. When it is dry I go back into it with a marker and create texture and definition. The most important thing I do is try not to control it to much. I have always been a tight painter and perfectionist with my work and it has held me back and tripped me up. Be free, beauty is found in the unexpected! After I am finished painting, I scan my work and bring it into Photoshop. Some of my pieces are unaltered and for others I like to play. The great thing is there are no rules anymore. Do what makes you happy.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
That is a question that I try not to focus on too much. I know what is right in front of me, and from that, I know what I want and don’t want. All I know is ... I want freedom in my daily life and need to figure out how to achieve that. Working a full-time job has too many restrictions for me and binds my spirit, while working for myself in my home studio is too isolating. I need to find the right balance of the two. In five years, I would like to be happily surrounded by my wildest dreams. I would like freedom to explore my passions and security to feel safe while I am doing that. I know that is vague, but I am open to all possibilities. Living a balanced life on my terms, surrounded by art, community, and a purposeful life, sounds like a great place to be in 5 years and I will be there with a big gratitude-filled smile on my face.