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Stephanie Cox, an artist of a variety of mediums, has always been a very inquisitive person. She has also spent a great deal of time by herself because she was a fearfully anxious kid.
During this time alone, she started to internalize and think about the human condition, as well as to record the reactions and experiences of her life in journals. Art became her best outlet, so she focused on merging it with her thought process. The end result was an interesting mixture of reaction art, art for stress relief, studies from life, experiments, and problem-solving illustrations.
Toonari Post (TP): How and when did you first start practicing your art? Are you traditionally trained or self-taught?
Stephanie Cox (SC): I loved doing all kinds of creative things when I was young. Back then, I loved writing more than anything, and I wanted to be able to draw pictures for my stories, just in like my favorite books and cartoons. I pursued art (and writing to a lesser extent) all through high school and was lucky enough to pursue illustration through university.
I still write, but now I have much more fun doing drawings. School was great in giving me a more structured environment to learn from and helping me meet other talented artists, and I continue to try and learn everything I can now that I’m out of school. So a little of both!
TP: What are your main resources for learning more about your art now that you are out of school?
SC: I keep tabs on a lot of different communities via RSS feeds. I follow hundreds of artists’ blogs, illustration communities, and design blogs, so I have a steady flow of inspirational sources.
When I see something I really like, I’ll research it in depth and try to learn the technique or the idea behind it. I’m always eager to learn about other people’s processes and about new ideas in the art world. I also hang out a lot lately on Tumblr, where it’s really easy for people to share resources, and in my spare time, I add to my growing collection of art books.
TP: What mediums do you use for your art work? Which is your favorite and why?
SC: I use pens, watercolor, markers, ink, and acrylic for traditional work, and I use Photoshop and Illustrator for digital work. Watercolor is my true favorite, though.
It produces this great soft and ethereal feeling that I can’t replicate any other way. It’s also great to experiment with because there is this great unpredictable quality that helps preserve that spontaneous feeling that you only get from a fresh sketch. I often enjoy sketches and rough experiments more than my finished work.
TP: What piece of your work is your favorite and why? Which one are you most proud of?
SC: I really don’t have a favorite piece. Every time I finish a piece, I’ll enjoy it until I want to do better, so it’s very short lived. The piece I’m proudest of right now, however, would have to be my “House Pattern”. I was really excited when I finished it because it was a new process for me, and I loved how it came out. Plus everyone else seems to really like it!
TP: How was the process for “House Pattern” different from your others pieces?
SC: Most of my work is very free-form and defined by mark making, focusing on emotion and color, so this piece was the complete opposite of how I usually work. It involved meticulous planning to make sure everything lined up correctly, and the end result is something very clean and well thought out. It’s more of a design-oriented piece, instead of an illustrative vignette.
TP: When you first started, did you ever hit any bumps in your art process? How did you overcome them?
SC: I’m always running into bumps! My biggest and most present hurdle is that I’m never truly satisfied with my work. The whole artist process is very tumultuous, or at least, it is for me. If I get too overwhelmed, I usually take a break and do something else to take my mind off it, or take a nap. It’s an exciting cycle of learning, failing, trying again, and succeeding, and it’s ultimately hard work that will get you out of a rut, always. Recharging is important, but so is putting in hours.
TP: Have you ever gotten any kind of negative feedback on your art? If so, how did you deal with it?
SC: I’ve gotten a couple of responses to the tune of “start this over” or “wow, this isn’t what I was expecting at all.” I know I can be sensitive, so I try extra hard to view everything objectively. Most of the time, it works out fine because they just care about the work. The work is what is important, not personal feelings. And I am always ready to hear if my work needs improvement, even if it’s personal work.