Steven is an artist who enjoys trying new things. He draws a lot of crazy creatures and round cartoon people. We saw his site, found his illustrations interesting and decided to feature him. He reveals amazing insights about his background in art, unique things to in Portland and his bucket list…good luck discovering BigFoot. Read on to discover more about Steven, and you can thank Funsherpa later. His illustrations can be found here.
How did you get your start in art? What inspired you to start creating fun and colorful illustrations?
My first interests in art began as young as any other kid I would assume. But it wasn’t until high school when I really began to focus on art as more than just a hobby. My first step into the art world was during my junior year when I started to draw realistic graphite portraits of people and pets. It was a pretty basic gig, but I had to start somewhere and I knew how to draw things the way they looked. I then went to college for art and honed my skills with a couple other mediums. My friends and professors kept telling me that the only way to make it as an artist was to have art shows in galleries. I didn’t know the first thing about organizing my own show, so I began displaying some works around the city in local coffee shops and clubs. Things were slow going in terms of revenue from selling artwork, and I was not exactly motivated to keep buying more paint and canvas, so I then started looking into quicker ways to create and distribute art. That’s when I found digital art! Being able to create finished pieces in less time and then send them to whoever had access to a computer was the way to go. As a result, I’ve been focusing on digital illustration and graphic design ever since.
I’ve always had fun doodling on paper scraps in my downtime. The subject matter usually consists of goofy critters and unusually round cartoon people. A few years back, I was an art teacher for a public elementary school. It became a very popular thing among the students to challenge me with the task of creating cartoon animals and characters for their personal use. I could see how much fun the children had watching me draw pictures for them and how even more excited they were to receive those pictures when I finished. It was at that point I realized how awesome the situation was. I discovered that I could create fun illustrations for a group of people that liked them, and enjoy doing it at the same time!
What are your favorite illustrations? Can you share some of them?
I am a fan of many illustration styles and artists, but I would have to say that my absolute favorite illustrations come from N. C. Wyeth. He was an artist and illustrator in the early 1900’s who did the artwork for tons of classic literature. His paintings from the book Treasure Island are an inspiration and push me to continue practicing on my realism and painting skills. A much more recent illustrator who inspires me is Noah Bradley. He specializes in digital painting and fantasy landscapes. Much of his work has been used by the organization Wizards for different strategy games. I’m mainly a fan of his technique, monochromatic colors, and use of lighting.
Can you talk a little bit about how you see the digital/web art scene evolving?
Having just joined the digital art world a little over a year ago, I can’t say much about its’ growth in the past few years. But in the amount of time that I’ve been involved, I can definitely see the scene growing and evolving in both good and not-so-good ways. First off, getting started in the digital art scene is becoming increasingly easier for anyone to join. Concept art forums, graphic design and logo bidding sites, simple website creation, and cheap online digital design options are everywhere on the web and extremely easy to find. Which is great news for any inspiring artist who wishes to give their talents a shot on the web. But on the same note, it also creates a flood of artwork and artists to choose from, making it very difficult to stand out and be noticed in the digital art world. I think that the digital art scene is both an awesome opportunity for aspiring artists to get a taste of exposure as well as chance to see the challenges involved in becoming an artist.
What are your favorite things to do in Portland? What about favorite food?
I take full advantage of the nature and wilderness that surrounds the city. Hiking, biking, walking the dog, pretty much anything that gives me an excuse to explore the forests of the west coast. Being so close to two major rivers and the Pacific are just an added bonus. Now the city itself is pretty much amazing. I’m not the most adventurous person when it comes to trying new foods, but that has absolutely nothing to do with how much I love the foods that I’m comfortable with. And food is an area where Portland is, in my opinion, above and beyond so many other cities in terms of variety, quality and pure deliciousness. I’ve been trying to get a taste of what every food cart in the city has to offer over the past year or so, and I’m not even a quarter of the way through the list. And that’s just the food carts! Restaurants are an entirely different, but just as amazing, animal. I’m a sucker for burgers, any kind will do. I would have to say that the most memorable one that I had was at the Grilled Cheese Grill. It was a monstrosity, consisting of a 1/2 pound patty with all the fixings with two grilled cheese sandwiches for the buns. Let’s just say that I’m sadly starting to realize that I don’t have the metabolism that I used to.
You mentioned your interest in ancient cultures – which ones are your favorite and why? Any strange things you’ve learned about them?
Ancient history in general is incredibly interesting to me. The cultures that I tend to show favoritism towards are Japanese and Greek. Whenever I read about how these civilizations developed in science, agriculture, arts, and war always make me imagine what life would be like in those ancient times. Greek culture is a favorite because of their focus on artwork and mythology as a part of society. Including sculptures and ornate carvings on a majority of buildings in cities, towns, and even villages shows how much the Greeks appreciated the fine arts. I love the Japanese for their focus on serenity and nature when it comes to combining architecture and surrounding scenery. A great example of this is actually found here in Portland on the west side, the Japanese Gardens in Washington park. As with all cultures around the world, there are always “strange” things to be found when compared to ones own culture that they’re used to. For example, in ancient Greece, it was considered rude to wave a greeting to someone with your hand open, revealing the palm. And in ancient Japan, women would dye their teeth black, as white teeth were considered ugly.
What’s in your bucket list? Which ones do you plan on crossing off soon?
Skydiving, climbing Mt. Hood, sailing in the Mediterranean, being published, taking art classes in Italy, and going on a Bigfoot expedition, just to name a few. I plan on crossing off the ones that can be done nearby, such as the expedition and climbing Hood. The mountain is going to take a good bit of training and preparation, and I like how it’s a measurable goal that can be seen. The Bigfoot expedition on the other hand, is just something goofy that I always wanted to do when I was younger and never got to. So it’s more for the sentimental value than the actual hope that I’ll find anything relating to sasquatch. Yes, I know it’s strange, but it’s also fun.