On Our Radar
© Andrew Paynter
Last weekend, Miami Beach was overrun with the art world and fashion set alike for the 12th edition of Art Basel, one of the most highly regarded art shows for modern and contemporary works. And while the annual exhibition features more than 2,000 artists, some, like Stevie Howell, were showing for the first time. The 31-year-old artist, who studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, specializes in combining painting, photography and textile design to create painterly and photographic prints. We chatted with Howell about her two works on display at Basel, her influences and her artistic process.
Can you speak about your pieces on display – Rose and Lake Flower – what was the inspiration behind each?
I started doing these photo prints about two years ago and it was kind of a transition from painting because I was studying painting at the time. It’s a way of dealing with the materiality of photography and using the ink and painting over it, so I think of them as really similar to paintings even though they’re a combination of a hand and photography and digital, because I do some photoshopping to them too. I do a lot of textile design so these are sort of an interesting medium between painting, textile design and photography and a way of combining all of my interests.
What’s your favorite medium to work in and why?
I think that the way I look at everything is like painting because it’s all about color. Whatever medium I work in is like a painting and how I construct a work is similar to making a painting.
Your works are reminiscent of fashion photography. Does that genre of photography interest you at all?
This year I’ve done so much textile work, [so] maybe it’s infiltrated it a little bit. I guess there sort of is a drama and a prettiness to those works that fashion photography has.
Your sister, Lawren, is an editor at Vogue, does she influence your work?
We’re so close… we’re only a year apart so we grew up with the same influences too; our aesthetic is definitely pretty close.
What are your other influences?
There’s a ton. In terms of travel, I went to Brazil this year, my little brother was living there, and I feel like that was totally inspiring, all areas of it, a lot of the photos I started with are pictures I took in Brazil.
Where did you take the picture of the Lake Flower?
The Lake Flower was up in Sonoma, there’s something kind of Monet-like that that one reminded me a little bit of.
What is your process of making a photograph?
I go through a ton of layering, kind of destroying, painting over, and then I put it back and then I tweak it in Photoshop. Even though the actual thing is a print, I manipulate the surface like a painting. Sometimes I do paint on top, or just put a big blob of paint on them too. I often scrape off my palette and the paint chips lead to really rich, beautiful colors and layers and those I add a lot to photos.
Credits: Photos courtesy of Stevie Howell.