Featured Artist - Kristilyn Stevenson

The most important part of any art gallery is the artists – we'd just be an empty room without them! We wanted to find out what our artists thought about showing their work at UFORGE Gallery and gain some inspiration from their experiences. Hopefully you'll be inspired as well!  

“Harajuku No. 5″

Kristilyn Stevenson's work has consistently been among viewer favorites in UFORGE's monthly exhibits. Her fun, vibrant illustrations showcase her gorgeous line work and fantastic attention to detail, and she's always excited to talk about her work at receptions and other gallery events. I asked her a few questions about her experience with UFORGE from the artist's point of view.

UFORGE has been a wonderful gallery to show in! I’m always seeking to improve as an artist, so I use the monthly themes as assignments to explore things I wouldn’t usually pursue or learn about to help push my skills to the limit. Many of my current favorite pieces come from the UFORGE themes.

I’ve worked with other galleries with similar monthly theme formats, but I like the extra level that UFORGE provides with the Artist Talk Back. The Talk Back is a meeting of all the artists in the show to form a dialogue about each other’s work. It’s an intimate view of each piece from the artists themselves and is a nice way to get first hand response on your own piece from community artists.

The response to my work has been great! I sold my piece “3 Ravens” in the Illustration show and the other pieces I’ve had in other past shows have been positively received. I’ve had a few people approach me with compliments on my work. Stuff Magazine talked about one of my pieces in an article they did about a UFORGE show. That was huge!”

We always love hearing how artists work with the themes to produce the art that ends up on the walls.

I pick assignments that will push me as an artist- the first show I did with UFORGE was the  Chanel vs Harajuku show last September. I am intensely inspired by Japanese pop culture and know a fair amount about the Harajuku fashion district and it’s youth street fashion, but didn’t know all that much about Chanel other than what was obvious (French. Fashion Designer. Expensive.). I did a lot of research on Coco Chanel, what were her themes and the history of her brand. The idea surfaced to take a very popular image or idea associated with Chanel, and give it a contrasting Japanese fashion twist. The end result an Elegant Sweet Lolita (frilly, accessorized, doll-like fashion inspired by the Rococo era in France) posed as Marilyn Monroe in the iconic No. 5 perfume advertisement. All the details were reversed – a sensual black and white photograph flipped to a dreamy, colorful illustration; the timeless “little black dress” replaced with a signature Lolita style dress with a “cupcake” skirt.

Sometimes the assignments push me in a very different way. While the Chanel vs Harajuku show challenged my composition skills and introduced me to the world of Chanel, the Visual Lyrics show helped me improve on areas I’m directly working on as an artist. The assignment was to illustrate lyrics, which I did of my favorite Sugarcubes song. The song tells the story of a woman who comes home to find a depressed, naked man in her flat. After being confronted by her, the man then climbs out her window onto the roof to end his life. The woman leans out her window to reason with the man to come down, have some strawberry cake and use whatever pain he is feeling as a catalyst to continue fill him up with the will to live- all that wrapped up in a upbeat Icelandic pop song. The piece depicts the woman’s apartment building in a rolling city at night, the naked man weeping on the ledge of the roof and the lady holding out a piece of cake and pleading for the man to come down. Generally I am one to draw figures with very simple background as I’m more interested in the figure, but I also want my work to tell a larger story and so I’ve been working on settings for my subjects in each piece to make them more interesting. One can’t grow as an artist doing only the things they like, you have to take risks and make yourself uncomfortable.”

Here's Kristilyn's advice to artists considering submitting work to the gallery:

Sign up now! Or if the theme doesn’t strike your fancy, sign up when it does! There’s so much to be gained. UFORGE is what you make of it – you can submit work that already relates to a theme or challenge yourself by making new work that challenges your skills as an artist.”

To see more of her work, check out Kristilyn's blog.