SteamU Interview with Artist Aimee Stewart

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last week I discussed how I stumbled upon steampunk through my love of the Romantic Gothic writers. Another way I fell in love with steampunk was through the visual arts. I spotted artist Aimee Stewart's work on SWAG and was hooked. I mustered up my courage and contacted her to see if she would be kind enough to let me interview her for SteamU. I have to admit, I kinda had a fangirl moment when she agreed (squeeee!). Okay, let me regain my decorum. Today we welcome artist Aimee Stewart to SteamU.




 

SteamU Lecture: Melanie Karsak interviews artist Aimee Stewart

Where to Fine SteamU Professor Aimee Stewart: Foxfires, Redbubble, Facebook


Aimee Stewart

Welcome and thank you for agreeing to stop by SteamU, Aimee. Let's dive into the questions!

Melanie: First, I wanted to ask you about the name Foxfires (the name of her webpage and brand). It's very unique, and I notice you include a lot of fox imagery in your works. Why did you select this name?

"Moon Fox"
Aimee: I love this question!  The funny thing is, I picked "Foxfires" out as a concept, before I even knew it would become my branding.  Prior to becoming known as an artist, I was actually pouring my heart into writing.  It is still a major passion of mine!  In 2003, I decided I needed to nab a website that I could eventually turn into my own personal playground.  It was originally a place to simply keep my writing, photography, and a few other things.  I've always loved the whimsy, cleverness, and beauty of foxes... and there's just something about the word "Foxfires" that seems to encompass all of that for me.  I mean, who doesn't love some natural bioluminescence?  Heh.  Anyway, I knew it was the perfect word to be an umbrella for whatever my website would eventually turn into.  Then, of course - I became obsessed with creating web graphics.  I taught myself how to do them, and how to work with HTML to create websites.  I dabbled in that for a bit... when in 2005 I stumbled across what other people were doing as pure artwork with things like digital painting and photomanipulation.  I was hooked!  And I just simply kept "Foxfires" through it all.  I'm still so happy I did!  Foxes will always be my little 'muses', so I'm very happy to be able to incorporate that whimsy into my branding.

Melanie: You mention that much of your work is inspired by your dreams. What other things inspire your creative muse?  
 
"20,000 Leagues"

 Aimee: I am an absolute raven for the bright and shiny baubles of inspiration in everyday life.  Music, of course, plays an intrinsic part of my inspiration.  When I'm working, I'm listening to music.  Music itself can inspire a piece, or take something in an entirely different direction than I had originally intended.  Nature.  Kicking around old ghost towns (which I'm fortunate enough to live near).  Books, of course!  I am a voracious reader.  For instance, I currently have a stack of eight books on my bedside table.  I'm reading three of them at the same time, just... toggling back and forth between when the mood strikes me.  Video games are also massively inspiring.  Have you seen the tremendous detail that is going into the scenery and backdrops now?  Heh.  My husband plays the games, but I'm always looking at how the backgrounds and environments are rendered.  London!  I adore London, and England in general.  There is inspiration around every corner there, for me.

So,that's the thing.  I go where my whimsy wants.  I've found over the years that there is absolutely no use in forcing creativity, or forcing inspiration.  It simply can't be done.  You can force an 'end product', but it won't be filled with that all important spark of inspiration.   So I just keep my eyes and ears open, I look at everything, study everything.  I soak up as much as I can when I'm roaming cities, museums, stores.   Oddly enough, the one thing I don't do is watch a lot of television.  I have certain series that I adore (such as Doctor Who, of course!), but I tend to watch those in marathon segments, rather than sitting down and watching something every night.  It's not that I have some moral high ground as far as television goes... I think it can be quite fun and creative in it's own right.  I just find I'm too restless, and too busy to try and catch all the stuff my friends tell me I should check out.  I'd rather be lost in my own imagination. ;)



"Gypsy Firefly"

Melanie: You have a beautiful Steampunk collection. What was your first introduction to Steampunk? How did you catch the Steampunk bug?

Aimee: Thank you!  There were a few elements that came together all at the same time to introduce me to Steampunk.  First, being heavily entrenched in the DeviantArt community, I started seeing bits and pieces of amazing costumes floating through that were being called "Steampunk".  I was marveling at these things, feeling the 'click' of my own creative kindred spirit... when I was also introduced to the band Abney Park.  That pretty much sealed the deal for me, as I fell in love with their music, their look, their whole way of life.  From that moment on, I knew that Steampunk was going to be a part of my artistic expression.  Once I attended Steamcon in Seattle?  I was absolutely hooked.  The creativity and ingenuity of the folks I've met there, and the friends I've made since then, never fail to inspire.



"Abney Park"

Melanie: Authors are often asked to define Steampunk as a literary genre, but Steampunk is larger than just the written word. As an artist, how do you define Steampunk?

Aimee: For me personally, Steampunk in an artistic sense is the freedom to explore the lavish sensibilities of the Victorian era, along with the notion that 'the world is still untamed, so go invent, create, rebel, and EXPLORE - ye mighty folks!'  I'm sure most people would agree that my Steampunk artwork doesn't exactly scream "Victorian", but the embellishments, the attention to detail, is most decidedly in the same mindset.  And I think that is the lovely thing about Steampunk.  It can be as subtle as you wish... or as over-the-top as you wish.  It's about individual expression and creativity placed within a subculture.   I love thinking of Steampunk in all cultures around the world.  I want to see tribal steampunk.  Exotic steampunk.  Really, I've only just scratched the surface of what it all means to me, visually.  I have several pieces that I'll be finishing up this summer that embrace the vast Steampunk world... or should I say, universe?  Buckle up... ;)

Melanie: I understand that your work “Nightflight” was recently inducted into the Steampunk Museum in Seattle. “Nightflight” is one of my favorites. What inspired this piece?


"Nightflight"


Aimee: It was indeed! I was very honored to be the first piece inducted into the Steampunk Museum in Seattle.

Nightflight was one of those pieces straight out of my "I wish I could travel by..." moments.  Who wouldn't love to be able to travel by luxurious dirigible?  I wanted to give that piece a bit of an optical 'surprise', so if you flip the piece upside down, you can see the steam train I used for the gondola beneath the balloon.  I imagined the kind of scene I wish I could see as I walked up to the platform, ready to head off on an adventure.  The woman in the picture is the steadfast Captain, ready to take everyone off into the night.





Melanie: You published a Steampunk Calendar for 2013. What inspired this project? Can we expect another steampunk calendar for 2014?

Aimee: Honestly?  I just really wanted my own Steampunk calendar!  But I figured, if I wanted it, there would probably be others out there who would like it!  The market is pretty sparse still, for such things, so I hoped that it would make the calendar year a bit better for some of my Steampunk friends out there. 
 
"Prepare for takeoff"

Melanie: Is there anywhere else we might we see your steampunk works (book covers, games, etc)?

Aimee: I've had offers to do a number of Steampunk projects... from tarot card decks, to book covers, to video games. I tend to shy away from commissions, because for me... my inspiration comes from spur-of-the-moment ideas.  When I pre-plan and plot out projects too much, or have someone micro-managing what I create, it really doesn't gel well with my creative flow.  If I can do projects that give me free reign to follow my creative instincts, those are the ones that excel.  Unfortunately, in things like games and even book covers to a large degree... your work is micro-managed to the nth degree.  I would much rather have a large catalog of work that came from my heart, that people could say 'Hey, I'd love to use that particular image for such-and-such' and license things that way.   That being said, there have been a few projects that have come up that so resonated with my own artistic muse, that I jumped at the chance to do them.   One was creating the graphics for the Marquis of Vaudeville website. I love their music, I adore them, and it is such an honor to have my artwork be a part of what they've created.  I urge everyone to go pay a visit to the website... click around, explore, and most importantly, support this completely mesmerizing band!

Check out her amazing Fantasy collection!
Melanie: Do you have any upcoming projects that you are excited to share with us?

Aimee: I do have plans for a Steampunk children's book! I have an animal fantasy based book making the rounds at publishers right now.  I'm hoping to begin my Steampunk book by the end of this year, and work on it through 2014.   Also, while not really 'Steampunk', I am looking forward to my debut as a video art director and producer!  I have created green screen artwork for two videos by Chris Dane Owens of the viral video hit "Shine On Me" - both of which will be released before Christmas of this year.   It is high fantasy at it's best....   but hopefully through this I will also have the chance to do something similar for a Steampunk video. 

(As a mom of two little people, this made me giddy-excited!)


Melanie: What is the best way for your fans to connect with you?

Aimee: Through my website at Foxfires.com - or my email: foxfireart@gmail.com


"Carnival Moon"

 Melanie: Where can your fans go to purchase your works?

Aimee: All my artwork is listed at Foxfires.com- but if they visit my RedBubble gallery, I have a section there specifically for my Steampunk works.

Thank you so much for joining us, Aimee! Isn't she fantastic? If you love fantasy and steampunk, you are sure to enjoy her work. In fact, I love Aimee's work so much, I am going to buy you a print AND you can win an advanced reader copy of my new steampunk novel, releasing in December, "Chasing the Star Garden." It's giveaway time!! 

The rules are simple. All you have to do is be friendly! Let's be friends on facebook! I'll keep you informed of my new steampunk book projects, will post about SteamU guests, and will share some nifty SteamU tidbits! Easy enough!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you for stopping by! Next week will will feature steampunk author Tony Rand Scott! Be sure to stop back and hear more about this fabulous writer!




Class Dismissed!
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