We caught up with amazing graphic designer and SiteDesignWorks client Stehpen Foster to ask him about his amazing work!
1) How would you describe your art?
Distinctive. Regardless of whether the art is based on very strict parameters from a Creative Director, or I’m given complete freedom for a concept, I can apply a personality to it that is completely my own, which I believe comes through.
2) What inspires you the most?
I’m attracted to nearly every graphic design element I see out in the world, and it can be overwhelming as there is so much bombarding us these days from every direction (in both the real and virtual worlds). As I mention on my site, it all works it’s way into my head, but when I sit down to create something, somehow the stuff that really excites me works it’s way in, filtering out the rest of the visual memories.
I think what’s most inspiring is the creative output by others in a different media than my own, such as music, film, and what I am currently reading. A good example would be the recent book by Hillary Chute “Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere” which does such a great job of validating this art form. It’s inspired me to continue to push the boundaries of comic book style storytelling. More about that below.
3) How long have you been an illustrator?
I started to draw before I could walk, but professionally I have been at this for over 25 years. And I am self taught, getting my break right out of high school when I got a job as a messenger for an ad agency in Manhattan, where I worked my way into the art department, learning on the job. A door was opened for me and I never looked back.
4) Briefly describe your creative process and the technical aspects behind your work?
I embrace all aspects of the creative process, and as one who began my career before computers, I have the flexibility to jump from hand drawn to digital. Many projects begin with multiple thumbnail sketches, which saves so much time at the beginning stages of a concept. Once a concept is approved I begin the digital process to complete. Since most of my work is a hard-edged graphic style (similar to comic book art with outlines), Adobe Illustrator is a dream come true for me.
5) What projects are you currently working on?
Multiple small projects including a logo (toy industry), and packaging for a brand of Bamboo kitchen products. My main current long term project is designing and illustrating a sexuality book for teens, which will be told through comic book style storytelling. My first professional foray back into comic book art in quite a few years, and very exciting. As mentioned above, this art form is finally ‘coming out of the closet’ and moving beyond superheros as a way to engage young readers with real life knowledge.
6) What is your favorite project/illustration that you’ve ever worked on?
Through an ad agency, I created all the art for a promotional campaign joining A&W Root Beer with Marvel’s Spider-man. As I did all the designs and illustrations (including promo materials, as well as mugs, apparel and custom packaging), this project got my foot in the door at Marvel and I began doing promotional work for their licensing division directly. My love of comics and my graphic design profession finally got married!
7) What is your general branding strategy and how does that translate into your online presence and marketing efforts?
As a solo guy with a limited budget working from my home studio, my branding strategy has been whatever buttons I can ‘freely’ push. I do make a point to keep my social media presence about my work, not about my cat. And I brand it all under my logo and studio, which seems to work. I have gotten clients that spot me on Linked-In, and learn more by visiting my site. And it’s worked the other way round as well.
8) What is your favorite thing about having a website with SiteDesignWorks?
I was going to say the site’s architecture, but it should really be the staff. I’ve been with them for years and everyone I’ve talked to has been a joy to work with, and they’re creative problem solvers. Regardless of the many, many questions I’ve had, along with issues of expired credit cards, they have been nothing but accessible, friendly and helpful.