Interview with Stephanie Law

Would you introduce yourself and give a little personal background?

I'm Stephanie Pui-Mun Law -- currently an artist/programmer. Typing away all day, and scribbling all night. My ethnic background would be Chinese, but I've lived in California most of my life, and I'm fully a California-girl.

How long have you been an artist?

I never really know how to answer this question. If you want to know how long I've loved to draw -- as long as I could remember. If for how long I actually decided to take it seriously and make it a goal for my life, then 3 years.

How long have you been creating fantasy art?

Fantasy art has always been what I've done, even before I was really aware of a fantasy genre. When I was a kid, I spent all my time drawing mythological creatures, and fairies.

Have you had any formal training in the fine arts?

I took art classes any chance I could in school. Went to the community college for some figure drawing classes over the summers (although they had the models wearing speedos for the young and impressionable minds that they had present in the classes), took watercolor classes to learn Chinese painting for a couple years, took some oil painting classes for about 4 years.... And finally, majored in fine art (doubled with computer science) when I went to Berkeley for college. Almost everywhere I went -highly- discouraged fantasy art though. Most especially at Berkeley where they attempted to reject me from the art major until I made such a clamor that they let me in.

What are your biggest artistic influences and inspirations?

For ideas, I'm mostly influenced by legends, folklore, and mythology. I buy books and books on different mythologies any chance I get. But for visual influence, my favorite artists would be -- Preraphaelites, Impressionists, Surrealists, Celtic art, Alphonse Mucha, Dave McKean, Daniel Merriam, James Christiansen, and Brian Froud.

Can you describe your creative process - how you come up with ideas for a new drawing and how you take those ideas and create a finished piece of art?

Many of my pieces come from mythological figures. I start to imagine what he/she would look like, and what that figure really means -- because mythology and folklore figures very often are archetypes of the human mind. Something has kept these tales alive over centuries, most often not even in a written form, but passed verbally down through generations because the stories and the characters have some kind of reverberating truth to them. And so, in a stream of consciousness sort of way, I start to integrate background elements to the pictures as I paint them.

Do you have a favorite fantasy artist or artist you admire?

Daniel Merriam. He's called a "contemporary surrealist" but it's an unfortunately fact that "fantasy art" just doesn't seem to cut it in the mainstream fine art world unless it gets labeled another way.

What advice would you give to young artists just starting out?

Keep practicing. It's the only way to get better. People always ask me HOW I did something. There's no one method -- it's something you discover, as you work. How to see the world, and how to make that unique vision into your own painting. And don't get discouraged by what others say. If you really love your art, and have found something you have a passion for drawing, then just do it.

If you could be a character from a fantasy novel, movie or game, who would you be?

Hmm... the Sandman from Neil Gaiman's comics.

What cartoons did you watch as a kid?

Voltron, The Pirates of Darkwater...

Art at its best.