Spotlight on Illustrator Stephanie Singleton
I’m very picky when it comes to wallpaper but I have a feeling whatever illustrator Stephanie Singleton drew up, I would want on my walls immediately. This uber-talented Toronto native creates the most beautiful patterns(seriously, take a look)! But her patterns aren't the only things I'm obsessed with, her illustrations are stellar. Singleton's illustrations take you to a surreal landscape. It's almost as though they're all telling a mini-narrative(perhaps that's just me looking a little too hard haha). I was also happy to see that Singleton was also scared of color at one point in her life, I'm not alone!! I'm so excited to share the words of this amazing woman with you. Please continue reading to learn more...
What sparked your interest in art and illustration?
It’s something that has always been there, ever since I was young. I’ve gone through many interests and hobbies over time, but drawing was the one thing that stuck with me through everything.
Are you a full-time artist? If so, how did you make the decision?
Yes. I saved up enough money to attempt to freelance full-time for a few months, and if it didn’t work out, I planned to look for a new day job. I had no idea what the outcome would be; if I would be successful or completely fail. I was lucky in that maybe a month after making that decision, I received a client that would hire me consistently for more than a year - which really helped me in the beginning. I’ve been a full-time illustrator for 3 years now.
Who or what inspires you?
What inspires me changes frequently, but at the moment, I’d say, Francesca Woodman, Kamoinge (the photography collective), and vintage botanical illustrations.
What is your artistic process?
When I start a new project, I’ll immediately start brainstorming by drawing tiny thumbnails. If I’m stuck and can’t come up with anything, I’ll look through pictures that inspire me, go for a walk/change of scenery, or I’ll take a break and come back to it later. Once I’ve come up with a few ideas that I’m happy with, I’ll gather reference images and draw roughs out on my iPad. When I’ve finished drawing the roughs, I’ll usually send them in for feedback, do revisions and eventually get one approved for a final. I create finals by inking the linework and adding textures with watercolour, then scanning the piece and adding colour with Photoshop.
Do you have a favorite medium?
Ink, watercolour, and digital are my preferred mediums.
Is there a theme to your work?
I tend to use bright colours, with surreal or decorative elements. I’m also happy inserting florals and plants wherever I can.
Has your style evolved?
Yes definitely! In university, I tried out so many different styles and mediums until I finally found something that felt right for me. It was a long process of trial and error. Back then, I used primarily a monochrome palette because I was afraid of colour, which is in stark contrast to how I work now.
What is the average amount of time it takes to finish one illustration?
It really depends on how complex the piece is - anywhere from one day to almost a week.
What is the most challenging part of being a woman in the art world?
Feeling like there was a glass ceiling that I would never be able to break through. However, there have definitely been a lot of positive changes in the last few years, which is great to see.
How do you stay motivated when you experience a creative rut?
I’ll usually try and take a break if I can and gather new experiences (go to a museum, take a walk, watch a movie, etc.). Looking at other artwork that isn’t necessarily illustration also helps as well.
What is your ultimate goal with your artwork?
I’d like to be able to support myself through my artwork for as long as I can! I also want to keep learning, improving my skills and trying new things with the mediums I work with. It would be nice to one day have the ability to recreate images in reality as I picture them in my head.
What do you want people to take away from your artwork?
A little bit of positivity, whether it’s through seeing themselves represented, a very brief escape, or simply something nice to look at.
What has been your favorite project or creation so far?
My very first book cover, which was Opposite of Always. It was always a dream of mine to illustrate book covers and seeing it circulating in the library where I used to work was such a great feeling.
What's a fun fact about you people will be surprised by?
After I graduated from university, I worked at the Toronto Public Library for a few years. If illustration didn’t work out, my plan B was to become an archivist.
How do you relax when you have free time?
I’m a bit of a workaholic and have a really hard time relaxing, it’s something I’m trying to get better at! As of now, mostly reading and seeing friends.
Any last words?
I think it’s really important to value your peers and community! As illustrators, we usually lead quite solitary lives, and it’s so vital to have the proper supports in place if you are able to do so.