Member Spotlight: Stephanie Dalton Cowan


Member Spotlight - Stephanie Dalton Cowan

[ October 20th, 2009 ]  

What type of projects are you working on these days?
I have been working in a variety of areas. Earlier this summer, I completed an animation project in which I created the intro art and chapter titling for a documentary film in collaboration with Creative Director: Jared Martin of Big Picture Alliance in Philadelphia. This past spring, I created a series of 7 images for an annual report for the NYC law firm: Schulte Roth + Zabel. I also work with wide variety of editorial clients, as well as several university publications, and I produce my fair share of book covers. My rep in LA, (Jennifer Long, Film Art LA) continues to place my images on movie sets, and I'm putting the final touches on a 48 x 48" painting for the Loews Hotel in Atlanta. In December, several of my paintings will be exhibited at Gallery I.D. in Miami Beach that opens its doors the same week as Art Basel begins.

When did the idea of mixing photography and painting into your collage images come to life?
From the very start. It's all mixed media to me, and whatever I am creating, be it illustrations or paintings, I work with a curiosity on how to approach the project.

I studied photography, and I have always been interested in painting and illustration. In fact, when I graduated with a degree in photography I described my career objective on my resume as " photo illustrator". At that time, (which pre dates the age of Photoshop and personal computers) this was simply an idea. It wasn't until 15 years later, when I first attended the digital illustrators conference in NYC that I realized the potential for fulfilling this idea. After the first day of attendance at the conference, I knew I wanted to specialize in photo illustration. It made perfect sense to combine my background in photography and design with my passion for painting.

Your work is such a natural solution for book jackets and magazine covers, would you consider yourself a designer too?
I actually consider myself an image-maker more than anything else. And that is exactly what I'm doing these days-making imagery for a variety of purposes. But to answer your question, yes, I have a background in design which lends itself to creating more than just the art for any given assignment. The type treatment is an integral part of the imagery to me, and I think it's helpful to collaborate with the designer or art director to give the piece a cohesive feeling.

You have also worked in fine art and have spent some time running your own gallery, how does that affect the way you approach your assignment work?
Yes, my husband Robert and I ran a gallery in Atlanta + Santa Fe for a few years before the economy started to tank. Robert is a frame designer, and we collaborate on certain frame styles which we consider an extension of the art itself. In fact, we have worked on a number of commercial jobs together in which I have reproduced my illustrations on the Epson 7600, then we chose the appropriate frame style and colors to coordinate with the clients branding palette. We have produced works for client offices in Boston, Chicago, NYC, and London. We also produced a series of framed images that were given as gifts to the clients sailing on the World Cruise of Silversea; a high-end cruise line based in Ft. Lauderdale and Italy.

Would you share some of the highlights and more interesting stories about some of your assignments and fine art endeavors?
I think one of the most interesting tidbits along my career path has been my invitation to participate in the first annual Hong Kong Society of Illustrators competition. I was awarded a certificate of excellence for the theatre poster I created for the play Macbeth in the Milwaukee Shakespeare Festival. A framed print of that piece now hangs in the permanent collection of the Guanshanyue Museum in Shenzhen, China.

What types of projects have you enjoyed producing?
I really enjoy creating posters, and I'm drawn to the arts. So, creating a series of three posters for the Milwaukee Shakespeare Festival was very enticing project for me. I've also created two full seasons of theatre posters for the University of Maryland with Marty Ittner of M-Art Design. Likewise, I enjoy package design, and was thrilled to create two series of montages commemorating the 2008 Beijing Olympics for Kleenex. One of the more interesting editorial assignments I received was through Shaul Tschemach of John's Hopkins Magazine in which he hired 7 illustrators to create images depicting the seven deadly sins. I chose ENVY as my assignment.

What type of companies buy your stock images?
The buyers of my stock imagery seem to be publishers and universities interested in the topics of education, psychology, technology and health. There seems to be a strong trend for me in the education market as well as publishing, and varied city magazines. I receive a lot of requests for cover art.

What type of clients does your work attract?
My imagery tends to lend itself to more complex subject matters, so as a result, my subject matters are a bit more serious in nature. I seem to attract clients who are looking to produce imagery for subject matters based on history, literature, philosophy, health and technology. Sometimes I'll receive a request to a create stylized map, and package design seems a natural fit for my style as well. I'd like to get more involved with creating portraits and I enjoy poster work of any type.

How interested are you in animation and film?
I am very interested in animation and film. I learned a lot from my collaboration with Big Picture Alliance this past year, and I would like to continue working on similar projects and expanding my knowledge of Final Cut Pro. I also get a real charge out of seeing my work on the sets of major motion pictures. My rep Jennifer Long of Film Art LA continues to place my images in major motion pictures. Over the past few years, my art has appeared in: Enchanted, I Am Legend, The Happening, Failure to Launch, Don't Mess with the Zohan, as well as a variety of TV programs.

What else has been happening for you?
I was fortunate to be featured as one of the 20 artists in Lisa Cyr's new book: Art Revolution. In June 2010, my work will be featured in a second book entitled: Masters Collage: Major Works by Leading Artists. The author and artist is Randel Plowman who has a very successful blog called:

Your palette consists of earthy colors that have a deep luscious feeling; does your inspiration come from your visits to the Southwest?
My inspirations for color come from nature, and yes there are some corollaries between the palettes of the Southwest and my choices.

Truthfully though, it was my time spent studying in Italy that originally inspired my palette preferences. I naturally gravitate to producing works that include the warm ochres, umbers, and burnt sienna tones that echo the hues of Tuscany. I also work diligently to maintain a certain chroma, which requires a sensitivity to balancing the hue and saturation of the images I produce. This is one of the areas where my photography background marries well with my understanding of painting. I seem to have a good understanding of how to translate what I want to see organically into the digital realm and vice versa. The computer is simply an extension of my painting studio and a dry darkroom all in one.

What are your plans for the near future?
I plan to move to Santa Fe in the near future, I've had my compass focused in that general direction since I first visited New Mexico in 2007. I find the land and the light completely inspiring, and with my reps in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, I'm able to live just about anywhere. I've lived in Atlanta and the Southeast for a long time, and I'm looking for a complete change in environment. As for work, I will continue to produce my illustrations and expand my gallery representation to some key cities on both costs, and of course Santa Fe. In the meantime, I will continue to market my online galleries to clients interested in paintings and editions for their home and offices.

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