I grew up in a small neighborhood just outside Philadelphia. It was one of those places where every other house had kids and we all took over the street everyday riding bikes, roller-skating, playing stick ball and practicing our cartwheels. I loved it. I still live outside Philadelphia, but in a "slightly" more sprawling area. Instead of closely spaced square blocks of houses, we have winding roads, trees, grass, and horse farms....but still a Target within 10-15 minutes in every direction (haha!), lots of small town restaurants and farmers markets.
We built a proper art studio onto our little Cape Cod a couple years back. I was taking up too much space in the house, and with three growing boys, space is at a premium. Because we got to design it, it's exactly what i want...high vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, herringbone floor, loads of windows and big, bright sliding doors that look out onto my backyard. This was a must so I can keep an eye out for the boys as they play basketball, ride bikes and conquer the monkey bars.
I usually have an hourly to-do list written down the night before and I try my best to tick off every box, every day. But I start with email and social media because I am NOT a morning person. The real work begins around 9:30 or 10 most days. I try to have time for both painting and digital layout work, putting together art submission for licensing opportunities, plus office work. A LOT of time is spent planning future projects and making sure I have supplies for them. And since I teach, I also spend a fair amount of time writing copy and instructions for things, taking photos and recording video. I still have a little one who is only in school three mornings per week, so I crank out the work when he's in school, and have more flexible days when he is home.
Like most artists, I've been drawing since I was little. In high school and college I'd get occasional commissions from friends for portraits and such. Those increased the older I got. By college, I was juggling my Biology major with a LOT of studio art classes and eventually ended up with an art degree. I worked in graphic design out of college and eventually started a wedding gown business, making custom gowns and veils, jewelry. My now-husband helped me fit-out my first retail spaces. It was exciting. I stayed with that for about 6 years and when we decided to start a family, I closed the shop and started doing freelance design from home to accommodate. Then Etsy came along. Selling my art became as profitable as my design work. It was a fun time. That's how it all began.
To continue the story above, my first big break was being emailed by an art director who had found me on Etsy. I actually thought it was a scam email at first! But it turned into my first two published books! “Fashion Design Workshop” and “Creative Doodling and Beyond” were those two titles. They are still being sold 5-6 years later! I've made 4 other books since with traditional publishers, self-published 2 little coloring books, contributed to another multi-artist coloring book, and done a custom coloring book for a kids’ toy company. Books became a huge part of my work!
I'm inspired by positivity, simple beauty, messy sketches, happy colors. It's a bit of a purist attitude. Meaning, I'm not making social commentary or painting my angst. The world can be so doom and gloom. I'm just making things I'd like to look at....whether they be sweet and innocent, or pretty or soulful. Or maybe they evoke a memory or capture a moment in time - as with the portraits I LOVE to paint. I also like to do hand-lettering with positive messages. I just like making art that is joyful or precious in some way.
There are definitely artists whose work I love. But artists who inspire me tend to be the ones whose personalities inspire me...not the art first and foremost. I'm inspired by artists who really know themselves, who are strong and can handle the criticism that always comes with putting yourself out there.
What is my favorite Calypso card? Oh gosh...well I have a soft spot for the Sugar Skull since it was surprisingly popular! But the card I've sent out the most is the Color Palette Thank You card. It's so universal. It represents me in a subtle way since it feels painterly and full of color. You can't go wrong with that one!
Click here to see Stephanie Corfee's entire collection!
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