Coffee and Conversation with Stephanie Geffert!

Happy New Year!!! I hope you had a fabulous celebration and are ready to tackle all of your writing and illustrating projects. As Larissa promised, our December showcase isn’t quite over. Today we welcome illustrator  Stephanie Geffert to the Cyber Cafe.

Stephanie is an unconventional and contemporary artist who specializes in acrylic folksy paintings and poetry paintings. She works full-time and manages two completely different art businesses. Her first, which she established this year, is a website for her art, www.folksyart.com. Stephanie just started her second business, www.StevanaArt.org, from which she is donating half her proceeds to charity to help victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. 

While I’m getting over Stephanie’s generosity towards such a worthy cause, here are a few examples of her work. I know you’ll enjoy them!

Now that Stephanie has made herself comfortable with her favorite beverage, a Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino:

And her favorite snack, lemon bars:

Let’s get started! First off, when did you decide to be an illustrator?

I always wanted to be a writer actually and have started a YA manuscript and a children’s story, as well as a lot of poetry; I accidentally discovered that I could paint and draw four years ago without any formal training in art.  I am currently unpublished but would like to change that soon!

There is hope for me as an artist…NOT! That’s impressive, Stephanie! So, how long did your path to your first sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles? 

I am just getting started in art and with selling my art.  I started a website for my art this year. I have also been very lucky and have gotten accepted into some community shows like the Wilmington Fringe Festival and currently have artwork displayed at the Bellefonte Arts Gallery (www.bellefontearts.com) in Delaware.  My biggest hurdle right now is trying to balance being a single mom, working full-time and managing two completely different art businesses.

Since hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?

I am a beginner still and  I wish that I started artwork at a much earlier age, but I wasted my earlier years under the false belief that I could only draw stick figures…if you asked me if I would become an artist five years ago, I would have laughed and said I could only draw stick figures!  So this is what I would tell younger people, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”—Vincent Van Gogh.

Stellar advice!

What’s your favorite medium?

I love acrylics!

Where’s your favorite place to work?

I just moved into a new apartment in August and I turned the master bedroom into a bedroom/art studio so it is really fun to finally have my own space to work in.

Which illustrators inspire you?

All illustrators inspire me and I appreciate their differences.  I spent some time working in an elementary school library when I was student teaching and I did a lesson plan on Caldecott medal winners and I had to learn about the different mediums used for each book so that I could teach the students about them.  This was before I became an artist but I am still inspired by the Caldecott medal winners.

In terms of artists I am inspired by Jasmine Becket-Griffith, Josephine Wall, Jessica Galbreth, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, and Claude Monet. I also have friends and family members who are artists.  Some display their art and some don’t but I am inspired by all of them.

What were your favorite books as a child?

My very favorite book was But No Elephants by Jerry Smath.  I also loved fairy tales.

How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?

I would describe my art as folksy, contemporary, and experimental.  I can see my work evolving as an artist but my style is still the same.

Time for the lightning round!

Do you . . .

Work from photos or imagination? Both.  I wouldn’t have started painting if my daughter’s photo didn’t inspire me to paint my first painting, Princess Calla.  I still work with photos and also from a very active imagination!

Speaking of “Princess Calla,” here it is!

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Talk about it

Prefer sketching or final art? Final art. I usually sketch everything first and they look unfinished to me unless I paint them.  But there are always exceptions.

Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Love it.  It is as fun as you make it.

Enjoy brainstorming more or researching? I do research for a living so it is quite natural for me.  I normally don’t brainstorm at all.  Ideas tend to come to me easily so I write everything down and save it for when I have more time.

Read Kindle or traditional books?  I still don’t own a Kindle.  I feel that there is no substitute for a traditional book.  I love walking into a bookstore or library with shelves lined with books.  I’ve always loved libraries since I was a child and graduated from school with a degree in library science so traditional books have played a big role in my life.  I can see the benefits and convenience of a Kindle but I will always prefer traditional books.

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work? Midnight

Music to listen to while drawing? None, unless I am directly inspired by a certain song to paint.  Sometimes my paintings even inspire me to write songs.  So music does play a role in my artwork.

Traditional media or digital? Both.

Pair of shoes? Anything retro.  I have my eye on a pair of high heeled saddle shoes!

Guiltiest pleasure? Collecting trolls, vintage clothes/purses/hats, and vintage lucite jewelry.

Yes, that is Stephanie’s actual collection!

Line from a movie? I didn’t really have a favorite line so I searched for one from old movies that I’ve seen that had a line about art in it and I found this one from The Razor’s Edge (1946).  “The enjoyment of art is the only remaining ecstasy that’s neither immoral nor illegal.”

One of my favorite movies!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Stephanie. Best of luck to you in the coming year!

To all our fellow writers and illustrators: we wish you the blessing of looking back with fondness on 2011 and ahead with excitement to 2012. Cheers!

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About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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2 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Stephanie Geffert!

  1. Pingback: December Illustrator Spotlight Recap « As the Eraser Burns

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