Kollab was lucky enough to collaborate with Artist and Illustrator Maggie Stephenson on a gorgeous print called ‘Poppies.’
Born in Poland, and raised in Germany, Maggie is an artist and illustrator based in Florida, USA.
Maggie currently works as a freelance illustrator for magazines, advertising and other publishers, and enjoys creating art prints with home decor in mind.
Her work is influenced by her European upbringing and travels, combining rich textures, vivid colours and shape play.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background/how did you get to where you are today?
I was raised in a small village in Southern Poland, a walk from the Czech border. Coolest childhood I could have dreamed of. Most of the time was spent outside, no tv, no internet, hardly any toys. Running around in nature, playing with clay and crayons. My grandpa and I were very close. I think it’s because of him that I love to be outside so much. We would go for walks in the woods and he would tell me these cool stories. He also is the one who always grabbed the paper and coloured pencils for me when he was out grocery shopping. He’d come home and we’d sketch together. Even when I moved to Germany during my teenage years, he would still send me the same drawing supplies. It was as if he was saying all along, keep drawing, keep drawing. My teenage years were spend in Germany, travelling throughout Europe, trying a variety of jobs, spending time with friends. I was absolutely terrible at school. Hated the thought of sitting through class, so I frequently skipped school (with the exception of art and English) and went to town to have coffee instead. People ask me all the time what my academic achievements are and where I studied art. Awkward question… does the back of a coffee shop count? I was basically waiting to turn 18 until I could move and explore the world.
2. Talk us through a day in the life of Maggie Stephenson.
The days vary depending on work volume and personal life. It’s so nice to have a basic routine but when you’re a full-time illustrator working from home, a mom, wife, dog owner, multitasking is usually where it’s at. My day always starts with having coffee with my husband, a walk or playtime with our dog Lady, taking care of my son, answering emails and other correspondence. I try my best to get some sketching done sometime amidst those things to get the creativity going. I usually sit down and work early in the afternoon until the evening, with many breaks to stretch and give my eyes a rest. In the evening I love to wind down through cooking a vitamin-packed meal while listening to music. Coming together over a meal, talking to loved ones and taking it easy is my favourite way to end the day.
3. When did you move to America and long have you been living there?
I moved to America a few months after I had turned 18 and have lived here ever since, close to 17 years. It’s crazy to think about how quickly time goes by! I’ve had the best time here, made amazing friends, so many memories. And to think that the only reason I ended up here was by a coin toss (it was a tossup between London and Florida).
4. Did you grow up knowing you would be/wanted to be an artist?
Yes and no. I’ve always been into art, ever since I remember being able to hold a pencil. But as encouraging as my family was, they wanted me to have a more traditional job. So I guess while growing up I didn’t know it was possible to have a successful career within this creative field.
5. If not, how did you find your way into becoming an artist?
It wasn’t until my early 30s, actually. I remember that moment clearly. Usually, I’m a positive person but I found myself in a place of doubt, insecurity and just no clue about what I was going to do with my life. Jumping from job to job, nothing really stuck, and nothing bought joy. I remember having this huge pity party one night, crying and thinking, “I don’t know how to do anything”. Took a deep breath and rational thoughts came back again. “Well… I guess I know how to draw?” So in that moment, I decided to give Arya. Fair chance, since I never had before. The next day I went to the local art shop, bought a bunch of art supplies and began painting every single day. During that time I played around with oils, acrylic, pastels, you name it. I still had no idea where this was going but for the first time, I was actually enjoying myself and looking forward to getting up in the morning. Eventually, I looked into getting an iPad and try a few illustrating apps. That just opened another door because now I was able to spend more time drawing rather than setting up, cleaning. Long story short, from the moment I decided to completely and blindly pursue art, I never stopped and it never let me down. So glad I took that chance.
6. What was is your greatest achievement?
I’d say it’s fully committing to this job and sticking with it. It’s not always all highs. Creative blocks, an unpredictable schedule, sale fluctuations, and tight deadlines, are all part of the job. Learning to accept the highs and the lows has been a learning curve. I wouldn’t change a thing, though. Patience is not something that comes easily to me, but through these ups and downs, I’ve slowly learned how to take it easy.