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November Featured Designer Spotlight: Stephanie Bauer

About Stephanie and her Artwork:

Stephanie’s parents gave her an ART BOX at the age of six. She has not stopped painting since! After training in classical oil painting, chemistry, a degree in interior design, and starting her own faux finishing business, she was inspired by the elephants at the Zoo to start painting art for children. This snowballed quickly from selling her art in one tiny store to worldwide production of her charming, wonky work for three dozen children’s books, along with puzzles, games, greeting cards, apparel, wrapping paper, fabric, and wall decor.

Her work stems from a love of paint and process. The end product is usually a happy accident and she is delighted by the serendipity of the entire PROCESS.

Have you taken any online courses that have helped you with surface design work? YES! Lilla Rogers, Victoria Johnson, and tons of Skillshare classes.. Dylan Mierzwinski is one of my favorites!! Shannon McNab is awesome for business skills. Right now, I am learning Adobe illustrator via Maja Faber on Skillshare. I watch a new class at least once per week.

Your website talks about your travels to different countries. Do you use a lot of influences from your travels in your work? Constantly, I visit museums and am always honing my skills and my style. I have a journal that I call Stolen Art/ Bad Art that I use to analyze artworks and practice skills. I am in the process of putting together an Artist Resource Page on my Website that will explain this process.

You have illustrated some charming children's books. Tell us how you came to do that work and if it is something you hope to continue to do. Honestly the first book fell into my lap….I began painting zoo animals for children and selling them in local shop. The owner recommended me to Oopsy Daisy, who licensed a bunch of work. Which was seen by Barefoot Books. They contacted me and asked if I would like to illustrate a book for them. I said “um, YES PLEASE!” Our first book together was Alligator Alphabet, and it is still in print today...15 years later! I have now done over three dozen children's books.

Your surface design and painting work is so vibrant and colorful. What influences your choice of colors in your work? SO MANY THINGS! I keep a Pinterest board called “Bitten By A Vampire Named Hue” where I keep track of trends and color schemes that I love.

Tell us about your different experiences with licensing your work. Is licensing your preferred way of selling your art or do you prefer direct to customer sales? I do both. Licensing and flat fees are great if you are extremely organized, which has taken a great deal of effort for me! I now have an assistant who does all that for me. I love my little Etsy shop and interacting with customers is super fun. Quite early I realized that I hate packing and shipping orders, so I have transitioned to POD and other automated manufacturing. I make much less on each sale but I would rather be painting than packing, so it works for me.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with new surface designers who are just getting started in the industry? I would like to add for those starting out….get really comfortable with rejection. Add them up and make a goal out of it...try to get to 50, then 100, then 500. After my first book I was like “Whoo Hoo now I’ll get tons of children's book work!” and it actually took about 80 rejections until I got my second book. I would suggest getting a Skillshare membership and watching every single class that you can about the industry. I would do that before you pay directly for any classes. Pretty much all the information you need is in one Skillshare class or another. Work tirelessly (it’s actually so fun!) on honing your style. BUT note: you can have multiple styles….I would say I have a different style for each medium I work in- gouache, watercolor, vector, and even my giant oil paintings! Once you’ve got your style honed in and at least 20 pieces of work, take a Lilla Rogers class. She is a wealth of information and a joy to watch.

What's next for you in surface design? I have a lot of products coming out in the next year, and I am busy painting new patterns every day. I measure my success by the percentage of time that I have a paintbrush in my hand...right now I am at about 70%!


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