In a series of blog posts, we’ve been introducing the team behind Stephanie Schlatter Art: the folks out on the street promoting my artwork, keeping the website and social media humming along, etc., while I’m in the studio focused on creating! Today we wrap up with …
Stephanie Schlatter: the SSA ship captain, a closet marketer and businesswoman, sometimes photographer and writer, but above all, a creator and painter.
I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, and I’m happy to still call this great city my home. It is my hunger for adventure, for travel, that started this whole ball rolling. Yes, it was because I traveled that I became an artist. My love of recording the magical places I visited sent me back to college at 27 with a desire to learn photography. I soon discovered that my passion for photography was only for travel photography, but that even that left me feeling limited. At the same time, I had a wise photography teacher who encouraged his students to take an art class. Nothing, he said, would teach us more about composition and seeing. Having taken every art class I could in high school, I was more than happy to oblige. From that first college art classroom, my life changed and I never looked back.
I am happiest when I have long stretches of time in the studio to create. It is the joy of creating something where before there was nothing that fuels the fire in my belly and keeps me returning to the canvas to see what else can be done. A curiosity for life is perhaps the biggest driving force in my work. I love to paint figuratively, landscapes and abstract; the subject simply has to interest me, but it’s not so much the subject as the process. How can I continue to take my work to the next level of my own satisfaction, to push my limits as a painter and enter a piece from a new direction? Then, when a piece is complete, I send it out into the world, where it takes on a new life: that of the viewers’ interaction with it. I am not concerned with how a piece is perceived or interpreted as much as its ability to bring joy to the viewer, evoking emotion and, ultimately, smiles.
That is just one part of what I do. I have recently learned I’m a better painter when I honor my other interests as well. I do love the art of business, and I’m afraid I have been known to exhaust my team with my marketing ideas. It’s the way people work, perceive things and respond that fascinates me from a marketing and business perspective. I like looking at the big picture and steering the ship of my small business. My desire is for my SSA team to feel empowered to be creative themselves and honor their own skills and abilities — that excites me. I work with many great people and feel humbled and honored to know them.
At the root of it all is a desire to give back — not only to my team, but to my roots where it all began: travel. The people and places I visit in my travels have had, and continue to have, a lasting effect on me. I have long loved a quote by St. Augustine: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Reading the “book” of travel and people and places of the world expanded my views, broadened my horizons, left me with beliefs and interests I would not have had were it not for my experiences globally. I feel a desire to give back for all I have gotten from the places I have been, so eight years ago I launched a division of my art called Art Aid International, a project that brings art to children in Ethiopia while also using art to raise money and awareness for education. That completes the circle for me: make, create, art, business, marketing, giving, philanthropy repeat. It’s not always simple, but it’s always worth it!