This month's Artist In The Limelight is the lovely and talented felt artist, Stephanie Cowburn! Again, I found her on Twitter and immediately thought her pieces are just adorable. Read on!
Hey Stephanie! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I guess we all have two sides to our personality - on the dark side, I'm impatient and have high expectations, on the lighter side, I also am impatient and have high expectations...but of myself and not so much of others. I'm self motivated and always eager to try and make something new.
Being a part time teacher (mainly teaching primary art - how lucky am I?!) means that I'm used to breaking activities down into manageable steps in order to build success for the children. I apply this principle to my own work too: develop an idea, improve it, and make it into something pleasing.
How did you become an artist?
From an early age I enjoyed drawing and painting, my parents bought me a good quality water colour pallet when I was doing my A levels believing in me enough to make the investment and to encourage the need for any artist to use good quality materials.
At university we had looms for textiles...that didn't work, but it made me hungry to discover more about textile work and after selling a Batique I'd made for £50 I was smitten, (although the new owner claimed he'd have paid more)! Humph!
I only branched into felt making once my own young family had started school. I bought a felting kit off the internet consisting of a laminated instruction card, some wool tops and a car mat! I played and practiced in my kitchen and became hooked.
How would you describe your work?
Quirky. Cute. Adorable. Irresistible and a little bit of nonsense!
It's not going to change your life but it might make you smile when you least expect to.
Who or what inspires your work?
The inner child within everyone inspires me - if my inner child shouts 'make me a cow or a horse or a sheep' then I know that someone else's inner child is saying 'I want a cow or a horse or a sheep', we never fully grow up.
I write quirky individual profiles for each of my animal characters which customers and clients spend a long time reading and enjoying. I want to please people. I want my work to inject humour and pleasure. I want to create something you can't buy off a shelf in every shop you enter. Humour and fun comes from the people and animals you meet and interact with, therefore everyone inspires me!
What's the favourite piece you've ever made?
It's difficult to pin point one particular piece that's my favourite since I'm so fickle and led by my visual heart - my latest piece is often my favourite... However I do have two groups of art that I would take commissions from but never sell the originals of and these are 'Zack and Lily' two little zebras. They feature in a series of children's picture books that I have written which are currently with my agent, and the 18 mad cats that make my websites 'dating agency for cats' called 'Moggy Match'. I had so much fun making them and writing their profiles that even now some of these neurotic and eccentric cats have the ability to amuse me.
Who is your favourite artist?
I love working with children, they are open to suggestion, willing to try and are constantly developing their skills. I aspire to be like this, not to become stagnant and ever believe I've reached my full potential. I like artists who reinvent themselves and evolve as their work remains fresh and on the verge of brilliance. Students, graduates and young artists with self belief and raw determination to get their work noticed really appeal to me. They take risks, create what matters and are not shy to share their vulnerability with the world. I like that.
What advice or tips would you share with fellow artists.
It's been said before but it's worth saying again- be true to yourself. Believe in what you are doing and create art that you like. Don't let other people chisel off the rough edges for it's those rough edges that make you different from all the rest. You only need one person to believe in you because that one person can open a door to the rest of the world.
Stephanie, thanks so much for your fantastic answers. It was fun to know a little more about you and your creations! Everybody, be sure to pop over her website and have a nose around or say hello on her Twitter and Facebook.