What is your life story in a nutshell?
Well, I work as a full time freelance illustrator and have for the past three years. I run an Etsy shop, license my artwork on products, and do freelance illustration for children’s products so as you can see, I like to stay busy. I live in a small college town, Huntington, WV with my husband, Seth, and our dog, Leia. We live in a cute little house that was built in 1953 so it contributes to keeping me busy as well, I’ve always got a home improvement project in the works.
How did you get started as an artist?
I actually only started drawing back in 2003. I studied dance in college for three years and then ended up finishing my degree in history instead. Being a bit lost after getting my BA, I spent a few years working a series of awful jobs, not quite sure where to go next. A good friend gifted me a sketchbook and a book on drawing cartoons in 2003 and the rest was history. I found the thing that I’m truly passionate about and I worked day and night at it until eventually it grew into a full fledged business and I no longer had to rely on those awful jobs I had been working! I’m entirely self-taught, I’ve never actually taken an art class, but learned instead by drawing constantly, reading every art book I could get my hands on and studying the work of other artists and illustrators.
Where do you find inspiration?
I grew up in a rural area and still live in an area where I am surrounded by trees and flowers, so I’m often inspired by nature. I also find inspiration in vintage children’s illustration and I am deeply drawn to patterns and bright colors, which definitely shows through in my work.
What do you find most challenging about running your own business?
I love running my own business! Having always had issues with authority in my old jobs, I find that being my own boss is the best situation for me. And of course, I get to do what I love every day, which is just amazing. The most challenging thing for me is drawing the line between my business and the rest of my life; it’s a tough line to draw when your work is also your hobby and passion. My business requires me to work a lot, so for me drawing that line just means paying attention to the signs that I’m in need of break. It’s difficult sometimes because there is literally always something that I need to do or could be doing, so sometimes it’s hard to stop working. But I’ve learned recently to accept that there is no such thing as being caught up on all of my work and that working myself to the point of being absolutely stressed out just ends up being counterproductive :)
Who is your role model?
Tough question, but I’d have to say my mom is on that top of that list. After working with my father in their business for 15 years, my mother had to return to the workforce. My father started having heart problems and insurance was too expensive for their small business, so my mom went back to get a job to help out in that respect. It was a tough decision for her and she truly had a hard time getting back into the swing of working for someone else, but she’s an incredibly strong woman so not only did she work through it but she excelled at her job and even gained a couple of promotions. All my life, when something tough has gotten thrown at her, she’s just met it head on and won out in the end. She’s truly amazing and I hope I can be half as awesome as she is!
If you could have any other job, what would it be?
Truthfully? I don’t want to be do anything else; I absolutely love being an illustrator and feel quite passionately that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. I’m already working my dream job!
What's some advice for those who are starting out in pursuing their passions?
If you’re thinking of turning your passion into a career, make sure that you absolutely love it because to succeed in a creative business you’ll be working long hours! I’d also say be patient and persistent, you may not succeed at first but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again and again. And finally the piece of advice I always give is: just be yourself, that’s really the most important thing!
Anything else you'd like to share?
You can check out more of my work at my website: http://stephaniefizercoleman.com/ or catch up with me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stephaniefizer