Artist Steph Stewart is originally from Sydney, Australia, where she graduated from the National Art School in Sydney with a Bachelor of Fine Art. Steph swapped sandy beaches for squirrels and parks, and now resides in London where she creates beautiful pet portraits with hours of love and patience. Steph is joining us on Tuesday 10th December for our Festive Fundraiser where she'll be drawing live pawtraits to help us raise money for Blue Cross. We catch up with Steph to chat art, dogs and London life.
What’s your earliest memory of drawing? I’ve always loved drawing dogs! We didn’t have a dog growing up, so I would fill journals and shoeboxes with drawings of dogs I hoped to own one day! I would also constantly get into trouble for ‘customising’ my desk at school, or drawing all over my textbooks.
Have you always wanted to be an artist and how did you start? It's definitely been at the top of the list! Or a farmer, or a vet. Something to do with animals! I've always felt a need to draw, and I love animals so much, so this is such an awesome way of combining the two. Mum has been my biggest fan and enrolled me into all of the after school art classes growing up. I received an art scholarship in high school, and then attended National Art School.
Why did you decide to move to London and what inspires you most about the city? I love how pet friendly London is! I remember my first time arriving and being so excited to see dogs on the tube and buses! I thought it would be such a cool experience to live in a city where it feels like there is constantly something going on.
What has been your biggest achievement to date? I’m really proud of graduating from Art School, I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
Have there been any challenges? Absolutely! It’s been a long road to valuing myself and my skills, especially when art can be seen as just a ‘hobby’.
What do you love most about drawing people's pets? I love when clients share the little quirks about their pets, which gives me a little insight into their personalities! Like a little Jack Russell who plays in the duvet every morning while her mum tries to make the bed.
The best is when a client is really touched by my artwork, and reaches out with incredible feedback. This often happens when the dog has passed. One client had just lost her dog suddenly, and described my artwork as a perfect ‘balm’ to soothe the loss of her beloved dog.
What would your advice be to other aspiring artists? Get yourself out there! It's such a scary thing to do, but so worth it! The best way I have found is attending markets, I love dog themed markets especially! You will meet your clients in person, and they will get to see your work in real life which is great - photos never can do the artwork justice. (And I get to pat lots of dogs too!)
Shout out to your favourite pet-friendly hang out? I love The Star by Hackney Downs. It’s such a cute pub and the owner loves dogs, he has a ‘Wall of Fame’ with photos of the doggy patrons that visit :)
Book your ticket to come to our Festive Fundraiser on Tuesday 10th December to meet Steph and have a very special festive pawtrait of your dog drawn for a special price of just £8 (including a 10% donation to Blue Cross).