We had the good fortune of connecting with Elaine Stephenson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elaine, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
My favorite quote is by artist Henry Moore. “There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.” I have always loved this quote because it speaks to the true motivation behind why I make art. I just cannot stop myself anymore. I have to be creating something, and I’ve found that at times in my life when I haven’t been making art, that I haven’t felt like myself or been fulfilled. Creating is the ultimate exploration of yourself and of the world. I really do think if I’m creating the art I want to create for my whole life, that I’ll never want to retire. Sure, I might slow down and what I create will evolve, but I aim to be creating up to my very last days.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
To get where I am today has been a culmination of a ten year career with different jobs and learning skills that have built on each other. I think it’s so important to remember that our paths are not linear, and that everything you do has value in adding to who you are and who you will become. Creating murals is the perfect combination of my skills in art, design and painting.
My purpose is to make the world a better place by creating positive, beautiful, and impactful art. I’m inspired by the beauty in the world and try to reflect that beauty back through my designs and paintings. I use bright colors and often pastels so my work feels very feminine and cheerful. Flowers and typography play a big role in my work, but I’m also inspired by geometry, nature, and abstraction. This allows for a variety in my subject matter, but what my styles have in common are bright colors, delicate details, and a positive message. I am really excited to continue to work with local communities to beautify their neighborhoods and create spaces that the public can engage and connect with. I am also starting to use my work to express my point of view on societal topics like equality and social justice, which I am passionate about.
What sets me apart as an artist is my background as a graphic designer. That training has given me a great education in design skills that I combine with my artistic vision to create striking and memorable works of art. Although my personal practice aims to create beauty as my primary focus, I also like to partner with brands and clients to help them reach their customers and increase engagement through mural art. As a designer I know how to work with clients collaboratively in order to achieve their business goals. The other part of my business is creating brands for female entrepreneurs and small businesses. I help fellow business women align their voice, vision and visuals with strategic and beautiful branding to set them apart.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Atlanta has so much fun stuff to offer, there would be endless options! I’ll have to pretend this is pre-covid times. First off, each day we would have to visit a different bakery or coffee shop because Atlanta has so many great ones and my husband and I love exploring them. Our current favorite is Evergreen Butcher and Bakery in Kirkwood. I would definitely take them to check out the Beltline and all the restaurants and shops along the eastside, including visiting Ponce City Market. I would probably have to show them a different area of Atlanta each day, like the Westside where we could have lunch at Taqueria del Sol, Midtown where we’d walk through Piedmont Park, and downtown Decatur where we’d walk around the square. On the weekend we could visit Stone Mountain and hike to the top of it which has such a cool view and really isn’t far from the city. I also really enjoy drive-in movies, so I would take them to the Starlight Drive-in Theater so they could experience that! My other go-to for out of towners is to drive them through Cabbagetown by Krog St. so they can see the mile-long wall of public art that is painted each year during Forward Warrior.
No Atlanta tour for my best friend would be complete without visiting all of my public art! I would have to include my Old Fourth Ward power box by Dancing Goats at Ponce City Market, and my bridge underpass art on White St. in the West End. We could also go see my murals at Atlantic Station and check out the new Bowlero which would be fun to do.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I feel like I have had so many people in my life who have supported me at one point or another. Whether it was art teachers, or family members, or bosses who became mentors and friends, the list is long. When I was growing up, I was constantly supported in my desire to create art and take art classes by my family. My grandmother was especially supportive, because she too was a painter and I must have inherited her creativity. I had a supportive high school art teacher Mr. Riggins, who introduced me to studio art, art history, and my first experience using Photoshop. I majored in graphic design at the University of Georgia, which I felt like gave me a great foundation in graphic design, as well as fine art and painting. Lately as I’ve been creating murals, I have received a whole new set of encouragement from friends and peers who appreciate my work. I have also been learning from some other successful muralists who have given me great business insight and have helped me believe in myself as a muralist. Pandr Design Co. is a muralist duo who I have learned a lot from and I have gotten great coaching from Jess at White Coffee Creative Co. I took her Mural Business Course to level up my mural game!
Grant Sadowski (other photos of me) Elaine Stephenson (all other photos) “it’ll be OKAY” billboard by Mark Alberhasky