HI, I'M STEPH!
ILLUSTRATOR. CREATIVE. STORYTELLER. DREAMER. DOER. CHATTERBOX. OPTIMIST. MOTIVATOR. BELIEVER.
I’m all about sharing magical moments of healing and growth, one illustration at a time. I’m also a tea-drinking, plant-obsessed, language nerd. I’m the gal who will sit with your dog at your party.
If you're reading this, I'm guessing you already know me a little through my illustration and came to see what's up. Either that, or you've fallen into the black hole of endless web-scrolling and stumbled upon my website. Either way, I'm happy you're here!
This little page of the worldwide web is my chance to share a bit more about the person behind the stylus and my journey so far. So I hope you read this and feel like you know me a little better.
I also hope you read this and feel inspired to begin your own creative journey, I really do! I think if we are successful at something, we should talk about it and help to build others up too. There’s enough room at the table for us all, am I right?!
So this journey begins in April 2021. But just my illustration journey, the whole journey began back in 2015 when I stumbled across Alex in Wanderland's travel blog and was completely consumed and in awe that someone literally travelled for a living and all through a creative outlet. Honestly, my mind was blown! And yeah, that's right, my journey here began with trying to become a travel blogger (right now you're trying to connect the dots between travel blogger and illustration artist and I get it, it doesn't really add up, but we'll get there).
So I set up my blog and wrote lots of itineraries for the places I'd been to, packing lists of what to take, budget blogs, top ten things to do... the list goes on. I also bought a swanky Nikon camera and took A LOT of photos of just about everything. As I went, I noticed that all the big bloggers promoted their blogs through social media, and a big one was Instagram, so I followed suit.
Months later, I started to notice something. I was enjoying taking photos, posting them on IG and growing a community much more than running the actual blog. Anyone who has ever run a blog knows just how much work it is and I was quickly learning, I wasn't passionate for it. But I soon after had a déjà vu moment of awe and consumption when I stumbled across GypseaLust on Instagram and learned people were also making a living through just posting their travel photos and doing the bit I was loving. Okay, sold. Sign me up!
I think the travel Instagrammer part of this story lasted from 2017-2021. I enjoyed this part of the story and though it never made me any money, only a few free watches and free hotel stays, it was fun. But it wasn't my passion, it didn't scratch my 'creative itch' (ew). I don't think I knew what it was to feel passionate about something at this point. My whole life, I knew I was good at art, always getting A's at school, and I knew I was creative and had a burning desire to make things, but I just never knew what, or for what purpose. I remember being in my parent's garage as a kid and there was all this wood stacked up and I was so inspired to make something (free art supplies, hello?!). I ended up feeling so frustrated when I didn't know which direction to go in with it all, do I make a dollhouse, a door sign, a bird box? And I remember just starring at the wood on the floor and feeling this gap inside me as I walked away in defeat.
The travel instagrammer portion of my journey ended when I met Guido and moved to the Netherlands. I was in one place and no longer travelling full time. I gave it my best shot, and it just didn't click into place. It always felt like an uphill battle to make it work, and now I know that that was a sign that it wasn't for me. I clung to it a little while longer though, maybe I could transition myself from a travel instragrammer into a lifestyle instagrammer? I could make a nice rainbow themed feed with pictures of me in my apartment and people would wanna see that, right? No. No they did not. I wasn't offering any value at this point, I was just unable to accept that it wasn't for me and it was a nice placeholder creative outlet until something else came along... which it did!
Onto (drumroll please...!) Photoshop art! I think the photos were a bit of a spoiler there. A bit of a left turn here! In my attempt to make lifestyle Instagramming more fun for me, I dabbled with a little bit of forced perspective edits which transformed into the full blown fantasy self-portraits.
...That’s right, I’ve been a blogger, a travel instagrammer, a lifestyle instagrammer, a Photoshop artist (with a few different styles) and now... 6 years later, I’ve finally found where I’m supposed to be: illustration station!
The reason I’m telling you this (yep, it’s actually going somewhere) is because I didn’t just find my ‘creative thing’ and become successful over night (even though social media makes it look like that). I guess the thing that made me successful in the end is that I never stopped looking for the ‘thing’ that I connected with so perfectly that it just works.
It took me a while to get here and I don’t just mean time-wise, I mean mentally. I was actually doing pretty well in the ‘Photoshop artist phase’ - I worked with big brands like Adobe and Disney and I was getting paid well - but something wasn’t connecting just right for me on a passion level. There was something else on my mind.
I will be a crazy dog lady one day
Travel is my soul mate...
...and so is this hunk
I believe a good cup of tea can fix most things
Night in with PJs and snacks over going out drinking and dancing (sorry not sorry)
I can make my eyebrows dance... seriously
For over a year, I wanted to start illustration but convinced myself I couldn’t because I was already pursuing another creative niche; I was totally convinced everyone would laugh at me and roll their eyes thinking “here she goes again, another outlet”. I mean, I was just about to throw away a pretty large Instagram account to start again at zero, which at the time I thought was nuts, but now I see it was the best thing I could have done for myself.
It took me a lot of thought, discussions with friends and some soul-searching to realise how silly I was being. As creatives, we should be able to explore as many outlets as we want. So I bought myself an iPad Pro and a stylus and I was quickly consumed by my new-found love for illustration. I became obsessed, I think I posted three illustrations to no one on my first day! I’ve never felt more connected or more ‘myself’ through this style and it turns out that starting from zero is actually pretty liberating, I could show every side of who I am and if no one joined the journey, so what?! I had nothing to lose.
But I was lucky enough to find an amazing community of strong, creative people who send me amazing messages and cheer me on every step of the way. I feel like I’ve made some real friends here! And after finding something I connected with on a deeply passionate level (I now know what that feels like), everything else felt super easy. People seemed to resonate with my messages and art and only a couple of weeks into illustration, I was receiving daily messages from people asking where they could buy my art. I never set out to sell my art, I just wanted an outlet to express myself, and so I had no idea how to make a shop or sell art, on what paper and how do I even package artwork?! It was a whirlwind and the most fun all at once. It's been one of the most exciting times of my life to create my artwork but to also have others enjoy it and want it in their homes. Every single day is a 'pinch me' moment.
I have been lucky enough to grow my online community to over 200K followers in the first year, which allowed me to open my shop right here. I made the kinda money that allows you to work for yourself in just 6 months. I sent out over 1000 orders in my first year to 49 different countries and 43 US states. I've worked with some amazing brands including UNICEF, I've got licensing deals with publishers. I've illustrated whole books for authors. I've been featured in magazines and I've even got my own book deal lined up! Life has been pretty crazy since I picked up that stylus, and I feel like this is just the beginning.
I really hope whilst reading this, one of you has thought about that thing that makes you passionate and you've felt inspired to think “fuck it” and just jump into their goals, head first! And this doesn't just apply to creative people, I hope whatever you're passionate about, you manage to make it into your living. Or maybe you don't know what makes you passionate yet, then I hope it's given you the drive to try more outlets to find your thing. It's out there, I promise! I had to kiss a few frogs first (we all do, not many stick the landing the first time). And if that’s you, I’d love to hear from you through my socials. Come and say hi and let me know you've been here so we can talk all things passion projects together!
Cheers, Steph x
PS. If you're still reading this, good job! I told you I was a chatterbox!