Our second artist interview is featuring the incredibly talented Maggie Stephenson! Maggie is a Polish / German illustrator based in Florida. She is so well known for her fun, vibrant and empowering illustrations. In this interview we discuss loving pets, how following your true passions can lead to creating a dream job and a balanced lifestyle, and some inspiring tips on how to turn your passion into a career!
What does a day in the life of Maggie look like?
Maggie: Getting up early, lots of coffee on the back porch with my husband as our dog Lady plays. That’s the time when I like to sketch and play with color. I’m most productive early in the day, so I like to take advantage of that window when everything is still “fresh”. A trip to the dog park, so Lady can play. Catching up with my son, some snacks, answering emails, invoicing. After my morning sketches, I don’t usually get back to creating until about noon. The afternoon is spent creating, emailing, meetings. Many breaks in between to play with Lady, take care of my son, food, coffee, family time. Normal life stuff mingling with work. Working as a freelancer, I don’t have a set routine and I’ve accepted that as my norm. I like to balance family life and work as much as possible. In the evening I love to spend time cooking, a walk if it’s not too hot (Florida can be brutal in the summer) and finally winding down watching some tv, puzzling, talking.
That sounds like the perfect balance. What breed is Lady?
Maggie: Lady is a doberman and she’s just over 3 years old. She’s the biggest baby you could ever meet. Loves her stuffed animals, cuddles and time outside. I do most of my work from the back porch, so she can run around and chase after lizards and other critters. My husband works from home too, so between the two of us, she’s always entertained which is such a blessing. We have many nicknames for her. Liesel, Lay Lay, Lady, Winslow, Lufthuhn… list goes on. She knows them all but doesn’t always like to listen haha
Haha so cute, we love the nickname Winslow! Where did your love and passion for art and illustration come from?
Maggie: Art has always been a big part of my life. When I was a little girl, artistic tools were always available. Painting was my go to activity, which my family highly encouraged. Later on in life, art as a hobby was predominant. It never occurred to me that I could pursue it as a career also. In my early 30s, I found myself at a crossroads, not knowing where to go in life, unsure of what career to pursue. I suppose the only thing I was confident in was art, so in my mind that was the only option. Once I made the decision to focus on art as a career, it sparked my artistic passion more than ever before. I feel truly blessed to be able to do what I love for a job. It keeps me motivated.
Wow that is a really inspiring story, and a great reminder to everyone that a new passionate career path could be just around the corner. Who were your inspirations that led you down the path of becoming an artist?
Maggie: I would say my work is heavily influenced by fauvism, cubism and traditional illustration. Artists I have followed for a long time are Matisse, Picasso and Hundertwasser. I adore their use of color and shape play. You can find a little bit of all of the above in my style.
Did you find it hard to discover/create your own recognisable style? If so, what helped you?
Maggie: I think each one of us has a unique style within. I don’t think it surfaces over night though. It’s through playing with it, trying new things, practicing daily, is how it’s formed. The more you practice, the quicker it develops. Some are lucky and happy when they find their voice and stick to it. I wish I had it in me to just stay in one place and be satisfied with where I’m at. I love to explore though, try new things, push forward. The constant evolving and moving forward is super exciting to me.
What has been the most exciting project to work on so far?
Maggie: There’s several in the making that I can’t speak of right now but I can tell you what makes them so exciting. It’s the people I get to work with. No matter how fantastic the job, if there’s no good people connection, I don’t enjoy it. I’ve been so lucky to get to work with creatives that are not only crazy talented but the kindest human beings you could imagine. That’s what really makes a job fun.
What are 3 things you’re most grateful for that life in this industry has afforded/allowed?
Maggie: 1: Connecting with people I normally would have never met. 2: Teaching me patience and perseverance. This can be a tough field to be in. Rejection, unanswered pitches, scratched projects, fluctuating income, crazy hours are all a part of it. It teaches you to brush off your shoulders, pick yourself up and move on. 3: The freedom to work from anywhere and any time. Being in control of my own time has been so amazing. I love the flexibility and ability to balance personal life and work.
And how good is the balance that freedom allows! How do you get into your creative groove?
Maggie: A good cup of coffee, some music, sunshine and go! Sometimes it’s that easy. Other times when I’m not “feeling it”, I just let it go and wait until I’m feeling creative. There’s no magic formula. You just have to learn to go with the flow and at your own pace.
A coffee nearly always does the trick! What are 3 tips you could give young and inspiring artist out there who want to turn their creative hobby into a career?
1: Most importantly, don’t question your abilities and don’t compare yourself to others.
2: Don’t let creative ruts discourage you. If you find yourself hitting a creative block, ride it out. Inspiration will strike again and you’ll come back refocused and with more clarity to tackle future work. Keep going, moving forward and don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s all part of creative growth and you will be grateful for it.
3: Don’t let likes, dislikes, rejection, opinions interfere with your confidence. Sometimes what you create is not for everyone and that is ok. Being firm in your confidence is key to success. Don’t let anything come in between your passion and your vision.
Three really important tips to remember in order to keep growing and chase your dreams! Do you have any other cool or creative hobbies?
Maggie: I love to cook. To me it’s a form of art in itself. Picking fresh colorful ingredients, trying different spices and techniques. When I have time, I like to turn cooking into a fun event. Listening to music, sipping some wine. It’s therapeutic and such a great way to wind down after a busy day. Bonus is, it gets me away from screens for a while, which is so important. Eyes need a break too.
We have seen your amazing artwork evolve and transform over the years and we are so keen to see what more Maggie Stephenson has to offer, is there anything big and exciting on the horizon?
Maggie: So many exciting projects that are a beautiful medley of multiple collaborations and ideas. I am not at liberty to disclose them yet but very very soon!
If you could leave us with a fun fact, favourite quote or advice, what would it be?
Maggie: Fun fact: When I was a child I wanted to be a cardiologist. The only problem was I didn’t like school and I faint when I see blood.
As far as advice, just keep going and don’t let anything distract you. If you believe in yourself and your goals, you can do this if you keep going!