Wow Me Wednesday: Steven Duke
Hello and welcome to the fifth “Wow Me Wednesday,” a weekly series in which I interview and feature artists who inspire me. My name is Jeffrey Thelin founder of teyleen.com and today I’ll be featuring Steven Duke. Steven is a multidisciplinary creative based out of Wisconsin, USA, with a love for artistic creation in all its forms with a deep respect for tangible and analog methods in conjunction with digital avenues.
Describe your typical process when creating your pieces?
It really depends on what I am working on. Sometimes I find an image that really pulls me in and I just build around it. Other times I have a set “theme” I’m trying to create off of. A lot of my design work currently is based around album packaging for bands I’ve been blessed to work with. The most recent being a band called Bootstraps. Most of the time they have something in mind and give me full creative freedom. Other times I have to try to work in a small box or idea, which makes things a lot more challenging than I’d like them to be, but I really feel it’s made me grow a lot. I’m very inspired by music, so I feel like a lot of what I make in some way has something to do with something I’ve heard at one point in life that left a mark on me. Maybe I realized it and maybe I didn’t. I’m always listening to music when I create and I think the style of music really changes the vibe of my work, especially these days.
What tools do you use when creating your art?
Most days it’s been a computer, but I really enjoy working with my hands as well. A lot of my collage artwork was done by hand with old magazines I find. Sometimes I scan images and work that way. Depends again on the project and how small or big I need something to be. If I am doing photography, my go to camera is my Nikon FM2.
What do you see as the future of creativity?
I just hope I see more artists taking risks. A lot of good ones and bad ones. Social media makes it so easy to get seen these days and I feel like a lot of them are being found for the wrong reasons. Hopefully more artists will stop doing the “status quo” and try something new. So many artist are just doing the same thing worse than the person they saw do it originally and get credit for it. I’m hoping people start thinking outside of the box and don’t waste their time on making what is popular at the moment. I see this all the time on Instagram. I also see this in music a lot as well. So…hopefully it gets more creative.
What do you think the balance is between technology and analog when being creative?
Personally, I love using both. In fact, I use them together a lot. I do find it rather dishonest when someone calls themselves a designer and does everything on their phone. I started out on my phone, but took time to learn the craft properly. I really hope all this “at your fingertips” style of living doesn’t mess up analog artwork in the future. I do think it’s important as an artist to practice both ways on a regular basis. There is something rewarding about making something with your hands. It becomes part of you. The same happens I suppose with digital artwork, but I feel like it’s not the same.
Do you consider yourself an artist?
I just make art. Whatever medium it is in, I am happy. Whatever label you want to put on it, is fine with me!
Who are some creatives that you really look up to and inspire your work daily?
So many! Off the the top of my head…Neil Krug is definitely my favorite photographer and one of my biggest inspirations. He is brilliant! I’d also say bands like Beaty Heart, Bravestation, M83, Tame Impala, Gold Celeste, Bootstraps, Animal Collective, High Highs and James Blake just to name a few. The list goes on and on though.
Did you always know you were an artist or designer? What’s your story about how you got into all this?
Yeah, from a young age I was banging on pots and pans playing to music or drawing pictures and winning contests as a kid. I’ve always had to get it out of my system. If I can’t be creative, I become unhappy. I started taking things seriously 2 years ago when a band reached out to me that I loved out of nowhere and asked if they could use one of my pieces as an album cover. I was so blown away, I remember thinking “this has to be another band with the same name”. Turned out it wasn’t and I’ve been in touch with them ever since. It’s made me realize I wanted to do this for a living, so I’ve been pushing that direction ever since. I’ve been so blessed working with, meeting and/or getting amazingly kind words said about me from artist I truly love in the past year! It’s been very humbling.
What do you do for a living?
I work in a screen printing shop full time. Part time I work as an artist and musician.
What is your dream for your next 5 years?
Full time artist and part time musician.
Any final quotes, mantras to inspire the readers?
“Regret and fear are the twin thieves who would rob us of today.” Basically seize the moment. You have a purpose…find out what you were made to do and go after it.
A big thanks to Steven for making this a successful “Wow Me Wednesday.”
If you’d like to see more of Steven’s work here’s some links and his contact info:
And thank you all so much for joining me! If you have any artists you think I should interview leave a comment below.