Editor’s note: Stephen Campbell is renowned for his playful, colorful artwork that’s hand-stitched or drawn. He’s stitched illustrations for The New Yorker, InStyle, Travel + Leisure, Bloomingdale’s, H&M, Hugo Boss and Kate Spade, and was recently commissioned to hand stitch three tablecloths for a food feature in the November 2011 issue of O Magazine.
His new collection of Dad-related stitchery is available, just in time for Father’s Day on June 17, exclusively through Stampa, the new website specializing in limited-edition prints by top illustrators, artists, and designers. The prints are made digitally, with archival inks and substrates; prices range from $100 for an unframed 8-by-10-inch print (perfect for Dad’s office) to $800 for an 18-by-24-inch framed print.
Stampa is curated by Stephanie Pesakoff. She handpicks a selection of works by celebrated artists for each Stampa collection.
We caught up with Campbell via email just a day ago, for the Q + A below:
What is your background as an artist?
I draw or make something every day. If not, I am at least thinking about my next illustration in my mind. Even if I didn’t have any success in my illustration career, I would still be drawing every day. My mother and grandmother taught me that everything and anything can be made with your hands. This philosophy has helped me through all my development as an artist and therapist, whether I was sculpting, sewing, cooking, or stitching a dog head on my sweater. Any blank space is an opportunity to stitch.
Where’d you go to school and what did you study?
I attended Texas Tech University and studied design communication. I flunked out of color theory classes due to my inability to mix acrylic paints for color scales. I ended up double majoring in Art History and Child Psychology.
I have a Masters in Art Therapy from the College of New Rochelle in NY. Part of my Masters program involved an art component where I explored lots of tactile media of sewing, sculpture, doll making, etc.
In 2005 I started stitching my illustrations as an alternative to my computer drawings. I remember my grandmother’s embroidered tea towels with classic imagery of Dutch girls or Scottie dogs. I was so amazed that my grandmother could draw with a needle and thread. Stitching for me was the perfect bridge between the childhood world of my grandmother and the simplicity of the line of my idols like Charles Schultz or Eric. The excitement with stitching is just like with drawing, I’m able to get different line weights and thicknesses just as if I was drawing with a sharpie or pencil.
What’s the inspiration of your art?
Curiosity about the world inside and outside of fashion! Street style I see riding my Dutch bike around the city. Other inspirations come from travel, music, French new wave films, TINTIN,Tati, fashion icons like Polly Allen Mellen, photographers like Tim Walker, Jean-Pierre Khazem, and Sam Haskins. I also have the largest collection of framed vintage Snoopy needlepoint in the U.S.
Do you work in other media?
My illustrations are either hand stitched on fabric or drawn with the computer mouse. The computer now allows me to paint and mix colors that I see in my head. Then with the computer color CMYK palette, I’m able to mix the desired color—instant gratification.
I carry a sketchbook and a sharpie marker—I’ve tried to be modern and use my sketchbook mobile iPhone app—but you can’t beat a sharpie.
What drew you to working with Stephanie Pesakoff and Stampa?
It’s one of those great New York stories! I met Stephanie in 1997. Before my therapist day job, I dropped off a portfolio of 25 drawings (drawn with my computer mouse) to the receptionist at Art Department—and thought I’ll never see this book again. Before I got back to my desk at work, I had a message from Stephanie asking WHO are you?!?…and the rest has been a brilliant 15 years of collaborative history.
Why Stampa? Every wall needs a little love.
For more on Stephen Campbell, go to http://www.illustrationdivision.com/campbell/