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Meet Karl Stephan of Karl Stephan Studio in Central Square

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karl Stephan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Karl. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
This is a second career. After earning a BFA in Painting and Printmaking I spent nearly thirty years helping raise two sons. I taught myself business and worked my way up in enterprise software sales. I started painting again in 2001, in part a response to the shock of 9/11. My work found it’s first clear direction in 2005, after the shock of Katrina.

My first one-man show was held in 2007. A difficult time personally paired with a very fortunate sales year promoted/allowed me to leave the corporate world in 2014 to take a Master’s Degree in Art Education from the Tufts Museum School in Boston. I have taught families, teens and adults at the Museum of Fine Arts and in my Cambridge studio since then.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has been long but I have had amazing good fortune, most especially the support of my wife Megan and our two grown sons. I was very lucky to find studio space in the Central Square Cultural district, convenient to my home and to many of my students.

My location is also ideal for documenting the local street art scene, as it is just over a block from Rico Modica Way, the famous Graffiti Alley of Cambridge. I have photographs of the daily and weekly evolutions of this legal street art space going back to 2010. I have also built relationships with many local, national and international street artists, some who have kindly made guest appearances with my students.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Karl Stephan Studio is the realization of a long-held dream: a working art studio in which families, teen and adult students can learn alongside professional artists: myself and my occasional guests. I teach two-dimensional media (drawing, painting, printmaking, collage) using both traditional and experimental methods.

I am most proud that my students feel empowered to pursue their own paths to achieve the results they want. Acting as a coach, I encourage each student in the direction they choose, providing advice and challenges on the way so they can expand their skills to make room for continued future development.

What sets my lessons apart is the difference in student work products. Of two students working in the same class, one may be doing expressive landscapes and portraits while the other is exploring the art-music connection through the abstract painting techniques of Sonia Delauney. My goal is to enable each to achieve a high-quality result and create artwork that they love.

What were you like growing up?
I was an artist-athlete, with all the positive – and some of the negative – attributes that may convey. A talkative person comfortable with long spells of quiet, I was a combination of a leader and a loner. I never enjoyed telling people what to do, but I loved making my case and letting them decide. (This was a helpful attribute to have in sales and is very helpful to me as a teacher.)

I grew up near New York City and visited the great museums there with my grandfather (a proud immigrant) from the age of six or so. My list of interests turns out to be quite long – I aspired to be an artist conversant with many things of the world. Growing up near New York influenced my musical tastes toward jazz, funk, soul and world music (then available on terrestrial radio from the city) and gave me my first exposure to rap, graffiti and street art in the early years of their current explosion. I saw the tags of now well-known writers, both from the train and on the trains.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Madeline Muhlberg

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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