TEMPLO: What is your expression?
Stephen: I primarily express myself through painting. I like to explore the subconscious mind and am interested in the relationship between the human condition and visual perception. Through the use of vibrant color, psychedelic patterns and occasional child-like illustration I try and evoke emotion within the viewer.
T: Your imagery often makes use of faces, eyes, and repetition of images; I can see this as representing various forms of human conditions, but can you elaborate on your use of particular imagery and what they represent to you?
S: The eyes can take on various meanings but their primary purpose is to observe the viewer while also being there to look out for them (and myself). The faces represent the general population. On the occasion when I’m feeling sad or life is stressful I’ll incorporate tears/rain to poke fun at that feeling…even if I believe it is a necessary emotion for growth.
T: How did you get started?
S: It’s kind of a funny story actually. About four years ago, I was squatting in a building in Bed Stuy for a period of time and my roommate and I taught ourselves how to silk screen. We needed things to print so I started drawing and it kind of took off from there. It’s probably why my style is so flat/graphic.
T: Were you selling your works back then?
Oh no, I’d do unrelated freelance photo gigs but had no idea I’d ever take my art seriously, let alone get to the point where I’m selling things to strangers.
T: What is your medium of choice?
S: Gouache on Paper…Though I like to work in a variety of mediums.
T: What is the most indispensable tool you use?
S: My mind
T: What do you enjoy most about what you are doing?
S: While it’s a bit of a non answer, I think what I enjoy most about what I’m doing is just the enjoyment itself. Lots of people go through life feeling like they have to meet some sort of expectation they feel others have for them and end up never pursuing the things they’re actually interested in, which I find sad. I feel lucky to be living the life I am even if many would find it unconventional. I also find much of what I’m doing to be therapeutic, which is a nice bonus.
T: So you enjoy ‘process’? Is that why gouache on paper is a favored medium; because of the process of using gouache?
S: Yea, I find the gouache to be the easiest for what I like to do since it is fairly pigmented/flat. I also like the colors I’m able to make with it.
T: What is your biggest challenge?
S: A lot of the time I end up working very slow and can get distracted by thought or my phone. It’s something I’ve been working on improving recently.
T: Might this be part of your exploration of the human condition and perception?
S: Certainly, society is addicted to technology at this point and I often find it distracts people from the beauty that is all around them. I also find this reliance to cause stress and anxiety that would not exist if we weren’t so dependent on devices.
T: What is your current inspiration?
S: I feel like I’m often most inspired by the everyday life going on around me. I’m also very inspired by the concept of love, despite not currently being in love with any one person in particular. There are people, places and things I love which influence my work, as well as my daily life.
T: Have you recently learned something that you are able to utilize in your work?
S: I can’t think of any one thing in particular but I am always trying to learn/evolve. I’m self taught so I feel like my art has always been a continual work in progress.
T: Are there areas where you’d like to take your work?
S: The street, I just finished my first mural today (in Downtown LA-pictured) and had such a good time. I first became interested in art when I was younger through murals and graffiti so it’s an avenue I’ve wanted to explore for a long time. I also think it is the best way to reach those who may never step foot in an art gallery, Art should be for everyone regardless of background.
T: What do you like to listen to while you work?
S: Oh so many things, music and podcasts. I have a big soft spot for Ira glass and occasionally find myself tearing up over some moving This American Life episode. I also listen to a variety of other podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Reply All, Serial, Criminal, etc etc etc. As far as music goes that can vary so much…A mix of rock, hip hop, experimental, psychedelic, soul, electronic, folk sounds.
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