Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stephanie Swift

Posted By on March 10, 2009, 9:35 AM

click to enlarge blog1432widea.jpg

With so many modern landmarks about, people tent to think of them as just scenery to the city. But one artist has started showcasing them as fine works.

click to enlarge crown.jpg
click to enlarge bonwood.jpg
click to enlarge fruit.jpg

--- Stephanie Swift has been producing prints of these landmarks for a while now, showcasing buildings and signs that both document the past and remind of lost times. And with major recognition from art festivals and a spot in the Signed & Numbered gallery, it looks like we'll be seeing more prints in the future. I got a chance to chat with her about her work and career, the prints themselves, thoughts on the art scene and a few other topics.

Stephanie Swift
click to enlarge swift.jpg


Gavin: Hey Stephanie! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Stephanie: Well, I was brought up in Omaha, moved to San Diego when I was 19, after a few years, I moved to San Francisco, was there for a about 5 years. When was I there. I applied for a job at an advertising agency called DSW. I thought the job was for their office in San Francisco, but instead it was for here in Salt Lake so I figured, "What the hell," and moved here. I was here for a few years and then moved to Dallas/Fort Worth for a job and then came back again. In all of those places I mostly have done design work of some sort.
click to enlarge classicbowling.jpg

Gavin: What first got you into art, and what were some of your early inspirations?

Stephanie: Well, when I was a kid all I did was draw, and doing something in art was all I wanted to do. As far as inspiration goes, that's tricky. It's not one particular art movement or style. A million things inspire me. I see a photo or hear a song and get inspired. I once based a painting off of dress patterns I found in the goodwill. In the last 10 years, I guess my main inspiration is letter press work and the sort of poster work that comes from places like The Hatch Show Print.

Gavin: Did you seek out any education in art? And if so, what was that program like?

Stephanie: I never took formal art classes. The only formal training I ever had was when I was first going into graphic design, I went to San Diego Community College and took graphic design classes there. I have wanted to take formal art classes, but real life and paying bills always had to come first, so I have made do with just trying things out, and so far that's worked. I usually try to MacGuyver my way out of a creative problem. I still want to take some classes, but, time, etc.
click to enlarge billnadas.jpg

Gavin: What made you want to go into graphic design as a career?

Stephanie: My dad had a print shop when I was a kid, he had some letter presses and offset presses, so since I was small, I was surrounded by that type of thing. When I was 22 I knew I needed to figure out a way to have some sort of career, and graphic design seemed like the right sort of balance between something creative and practical.

Gavin: You've worked for a number of companies over the years. What kind of work have you produced from them, and is there anything we'd recognize?

Stephanie: Let's see, most of the work for big companies has been internal type of stuff, business to business or trade show type of stuff. I have designed wallets for Harley Davidson, and ad work for Bad A$$ Coffee, Gold's Gym, tons of logo work, stuff for 3com, Cisco... too many to mention
click to enlarge spikingtourist.jpg

Gavin: What's the process like for you from start to finish on an ad or product?

Stephanie: The process for an ad or logo or whatever is kind of the same process I use for my art, except when I do an ad or logo I have a specific end objective. I get the assignment, procrastinate and find anyway to shut off my brain, surf the web, take a walk, watch bad TV on the web, etc and then, I get that AHA! moment. I tell my clients, once I get the that moment, the jobs done, I just have to physically do it. When I am working on an art piece, it's the same thing, except I can just let things veer off course more.

Gavin: How did the idea come about to start doing prints?

Stephanie: When I was in Texas, I was working for a small leather accessories company, wallets, purses, that sort of thing. We were designing our trade show booth and wanted city scapes for a background. I wanted to make them look like comic books and that started it. I kept messing with the idea since then and was doing prints for my sister and friends. Last year, my sister got me to apply for the Utah Arts Festival, I figured " why the hell not, if I get in, I get in" I got in, had an “OH CRAP!” moment and had about 2 months to do a lot of prints.
click to enlarge astro.jpg

Gavin: You chose to do landmarks from across the city. How do you decide which places to highlight?

Stephanie: It's all about what signs or buildings I think are cool or funny. And that's what I start at. I keep a camera with me now and sometimes it takes me forever to get anywhere because I keep stopping to take photos. And I get suggestions as well. And some nice people send me photos of places that have been torn down.

Gavin: Do you do them as a full screen printing or as a computer print, and why did you choose that route?

Stephanie: I do everything digitally. That's how this whole thing started. I want to eventually do actual screen prints of some of the images. The main reason I do them digitally is time and cost. I couldn't sell them for what I do if they were screen prints. And not to mention, digital it's a medium I work the most in.
click to enlarge deluxe.jpg

Gavin: What was the reaction to them when they started getting shown around?

Stephanie: The reaction was kinda freaky. I did not expect it to be so positive. I did the Arts Festival thinking it would be okay and a new experience, but probably wouldn't lead anywhere. I didn't realize that these places were personal to other people. When I was at the Arts Festival, everyone had a story. Some of the motel ones were hilarious. Everyone had a Coachman's story.

Gavin: How did you come about to do the NYC and Omaha prints?

Stephanie: Well, I am from Omaha. When I was doing these for myself, that's the images I was doing. And New York, I visited a friend last year, and there are just some great architecture there. I want to eventually start going everywhere on a massive road trip and start doing other cities.
click to enlarge saltlakecostume.jpg

Gavin: Aside from the prints themselves, you also put them on cards and bags. Was that something you planned to do, or more of a decision you fell into?

Stephanie: As with most things that happen to me, a decision I fell into. They just seemed like natural mediums to continue with.

Gavin: Are you constantly adding to the collection, or are you doing them in sets of series?

Stephanie: I am always adding. I have about 100 other signs and buildings I have slotted to do. I seem to go in groups in my head. I have more bowling allies, bars and restaurants, I want to put in sets. And I have more out door stuff I want to do.
click to enlarge villa.jpg

Gavin: A little local, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?

Stephanie: I think the local art scene is good. I have seen some great stuff in the last couple of years. I wish it was more prominent, but maybe it's a good thing it's not. People are creating art they like, and maybe that can't happen if it's more spotlighted or I could be full of crap.

Gavin: Anything you believe could be done to make it bigger or better?

Stephanie: Just more attention, but the people who want to see more art find it. I do wish there were more smaller independent galleries around.
click to enlarge southernexposure.jpg

Gavin: How about what you think of Gallery Stroll and how its evolved over the years?

Stephanie: There's good and bad with it. I am not sure haw many people actually want to look at the art or just want a night out, but the fact that people are seeing art no matter the reason, it's a good thing.

Gavin: What can we expect from you the rest of this year?

Stephanie: More, more, more. I have applied to the Utah Arts Festival and some other art festivals in Utah and would like to do the Farmers Market again. I am going to try to get my prints in other places, and maybe do some shows. I have to force myself to be self promoting. That's not the most natural state for me to be in, but I am working on it.
click to enlarge dv8.jpg

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Stephanie: I have prints at Signed & Numbered and cards at Cabin Fever, also the website, and I do custom work.

Pin It

On Topic...

More by Gavin Sheehan

Latest in The Daily Feed


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

© 2016 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation