We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Stephen, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
It was pretty simple actually, I just asked myself, “what is your dream job?”. I wanted to create dynamic and imaginative worlds and tell stories that inspired people to be their best selves. I also wanted to have as much creative control as possible, so that naturally lead to a career in freelance illustration. Book covers and anime were what got me into art and I just wanted to create something that gave other people that same feeling of escapism and magic.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve always strived to create captivating stories with creative media. When you look at one of my book covers, or children’s books I want the viewer to see themselves in the work. If my illustrations can inspire anyone to create their own stories, or chase their own dreams I’m a happy guy. I also think representation in the creative field is extremely important for people of color. I grew up thinking for a long time that what I could be was limited, and now all I want to do is create fun images that depict us in limitless light.

I would definitely say the road of a professional artist is difficult but the most important thing is that it’s a road that I chose. I could’ve done a lot of other things in my life. I’ve worked in digital marketing, competitive sales and even designed high end furniture for a while, but I always knew I’d be happiest creating illustrations. Art is one of those careers that evolves with you and one of the hardest lessons I had to learn on this journey is to just be yourself. I spent a lot of time and energy in my younger years trying to be what I thought an artist should be, but the piece of advice that has resonated with me the most is to do what you love because people respect and appreciate authenticity. When you find your passion in life there’s no other option but to follow it.

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.
Oh now you’re talking my language! Right now I’m living in New York and the first spot would be Ichibantei near Union Square. They’re a Japanese restaurant that exclusively plays reggae and dancehall music. It’s a small space but has great food and the walls are covered in classic Jamaican vinyl covers. How dope is that?! There are also a lot of Brooklyn spots that I love. I’d take my friends to Shelter in Williamsburg for great cocktails by the fire, and then when it’s time to get a little ratchet we’ll dance at either House of Yes or Lot 45.

Museum visits are a must when you’re in New York, and my favorite is… well I have three. It’s a tie between the Society of Illustrators, The MET and the Natural History Museum. If we’re talking about a week long trip then I’d say let’s go to all three!

Lastly I’m a book nerd at heart so it’s back to the Union Square area where we can go to either Strand Bookstore or Forbidden Planet for comic books and manga.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a shoutout to my friend group. I have an amazing circle of guys that are incredible artists themselves. Being surrounded by positive and successful African American men is really empowering. We all went to the same art school (Savannah College of Art and Design) and our goals and aspirations are really aligned. The freelance world is tough, and can be demoralizing at times, so a solid community of like-minded artists really helped me to dig deep, believe in my work and always keep chasing my dreams. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re hilarious to hangout with either. Shoutout to them!

Website: sdavisillustration.com

Instagram: @SDillustration

Twitter: @SDillustration

Image Credits
Featured photo by Jelani Prew

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