Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Kinkel.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Stephanie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In 2010, a friend approached my doorstep with a large drawing pad and a handful of pencils, charcoal, and solvent-resistant lab pens. Although a reluctant participant at first, soon hours dashed passed as I enthusiastically completed sketch after sketch. As though in a trance, I would finish a drawing, rip the completed page from its binding with such satisfaction, and move on to the next. Soon the activities of this evening became part of my daily routine. After a day of working in the laboratory, rather than coming home and poring over the recent scientific literature, my remaining wakeful time would be dedicated to drawing, often sprawled on the carpeted floor of my graduate housing. Late into the evening and on weekends, I would experiment with new media, spending hours in sunlit spaces with colored pencils, paints, watercolors, or inks.
Art was the perfect intersection for my expressive tendencies and love for the details of nature. I could still function as a scientist here, looking closely and deeply, but the method of communication was different, and one I could pour my heart into. I ultimately left my graduate program with my Masters, to split my time between teaching middle and high school math and science, and creating art that celebrates my love and connection with the natural world.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For one, it is a road that I am still on, and it is bumpy and a little bit windy.
The biggest bump for me was the realization that I wouldn’t be able to just swap out of my research and academic track and support myself financially as an artist. I decided to teach in part because I hoped I would find more space for art while in the classroom than I had found in the lab. In part this has been true, as teaching leaves more space in the summers then working in a lab. During the school year though, teaching expands to fill the space you have, especially when you deeply care about the students in your classroom.
Fortunately, teaching is also a profession that has offered much in the way of growth for me, even artistically. The students have become part of an unwaveringly supportive fan base, and I’ve even had custom stickers printed to incentivize good note-taking in my classroom.
The other bump I’ve hit is rejection. But, the nature of visual art is that it will appeal to some, and not to others so I’ve tried not to take it personally.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about S. Kinkel Studios – what should we know?
S. Kinkel Studios produces vivid natural drawings in colored pencil on wood and paper. Our original pieces celebrate the diversity of several biomes: the savannah, the temperate deciduous forest (Boston!), and the deep ocean. Our images have been commissioned for book illustrations, book covers, journal articles, pet portraits, and tattoos. Our artwork is available as originals and prints, and images can be modified for apparel and printing on other surfaces.
We are most proud of the work we’ve done to support non-profits. We have organized and participated in shows that make direct contributions to organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and St. Vincent’s in Kenya. These organizations work to sustain aspects of the world we feel are truly special, and it feels great to produce work we love for causes we love.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I cannot stress enough how many people have supported me as I’ve worked to develop as an artist and build my business. People seem to show up just as I’m doubting myself, or getting rejected from a potential store or show, and offer me new opportunities. Some of these people are dear friends and family, who know they are being pivotal and supportive. Some of them though are merely acquaintances or strangers who have encountered my art and appreciate it.
The first person who comes to mind is a colleague, Nathan Sokol-Margolis. We both frequented a cafe down the street from Meridian Academy where we both teach. One morning, he just shows the barista my Instagram page, and asks them if they’d be willing to show my work there. The cashier also happened to be the gallery coordinator, so ‘voila!’ I’d booked my very first show.
The rest of the school community has been equally as supportive. My boss has two of my drawings hanging behind his desk, and an original in his home.
Even my family members, who you might expect to discourage me from veering off my safe, straight, and narrow scientific path, have been incredibly supportive. My sister’s walls are covered with my earliest art, the kinds of prolific line drawings that started this whole thing.
- Pet portraits range in price from $85 – $425
- Tattoo sketches range in price from $50 – $150
- Website: www.skinkel.com
- Instagram: skinkelstudios
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/s.kinkel.art
- Twitter: @skinkelstudios