Stephen Kline is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in acrylics and ink. His notable works include Florida State-of-the-Arts license plate and Lines of Language paintings and drawings. FameBooking was fortunate to have artist Stephen Kline take the time to answer some questions about himself as well as the world of art.
You work in many different styles and themes – everything from surrealism to photography to presidential portraits. What sort of research do you do before venturing into a new type of art or subject matter?
I tend to create my art in a series or group. It's as if a creative light turns on. I will give you two examples. The first example is my “lines of language” art. The first piece of this art I created was a drawing of Santa. Instead of using just lines to draw the subject, I used only the words “Season’s Greetings,” writing the phrase over and over until the likeness of Santa emerged. After the Santa, I started creating dog breed drawings, drawn from the name of the breed. For instance, my Poodle drawing was created by writing “Poodle” over and over. I now have more than 125 different dog lithographs on my website.
The second series I want to discuss I called audio/art. I painted a large painting on canvas and then recorded a sound track that, in my mind, matched the visual of the painting. I mounted a cassette player next to each painting so the patron could listen to what I thought the painting would sound like. For example, the painting New York, New York depicts a box made up of tall buildings filled with white mice trying to climb out. The accompanying sound track is multiple scratching noises mixed with city sounds in the background.
I may do visual research as I create each piece.
What age did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
I always loved making art, and when my high school senior class selected my design for the yearbook cover, I realized I could possibly make art my career.
I was also a rock and roll drummer during my teen years and into my twenties. I was working for Look Magazine during the day, playing drums at a club until one in the morning, and painting in my free time. Something had to give, and I chose art.
Were you always the best artist in school?
I don’t know if I was the best, but I was always encouraged by my art teachers and classmates. When one of my paintings was stolen off the wall at a college art show, my professor called it a great compliment to my work.
Growing up who were your favorite artists? Did they change over time?
The works of Dali, Grant Wood, Toulouse-Lautrec and my university professors, Stan Hess and Leonard Goode, were some of my favorites. And yes, while I never lost my love for their works, I’ve added a bunch to the list.
How does being from the Midwest inform your painting style?
When an artist starts to create, they are most likely to paint what they see. After time, you typically add a full range of emotions to the mix.
Were your family and friends supportive of your career in art?
Mostly puzzled, but yes.
How did your career change after you were chosen for the Florida State of the Arts license plate?
It really didn’t, but it’s always been fun to see my art going down the road – especially in different states – and to learn about all the creative ways the counties in Florida have used the over $10,000,000 generated by the plate to support, teach, encourage and explore the arts in Florida.
How do you balance your creative desires with producing commercial art for annual reports and advertisements?
I’m presently only creating fine art. But for most of my career, it was a balancing act. Although I was hired commercially because of my artistic talent, I had to reign in my artistic freedom.
What’s your best piece of advice for an artist who wants to make a career of it?
Find your own style and “don't stop believing.”
Do you think the Internet makes it more or less difficult to be a professional artist?
Of course, for all but a chosen few, the Internet has increased your potential audience exponentially. The same can be said for your competition.
If you’re talking about investment art, the same people are making the same decisions. I don’t know if the results are any different. Remember, it even took the tireless efforts of van Gogh’s sister-in-law to get his work recognized, and his brother was an art dealer!
Tell us something about yourself, such as a talent or interest you have that most people don’t know.
I paint each work of art in my mind, live with the image for a time, and then decide if I want to bring it to life.
What is the difference between designing commercial art and creating fine art?
When you design a commercial art project, you work for a boss. When you create fine art, you are the boss.
Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss your life and work with us, Stephen Kline. FameBooking.com connects you with the stars of your city.