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Meghann Stephenson
Our conversation with the budding illustrator, student and designer
by Kat Herriman
on 27 August 2012
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For illustrator, writer, fashion designer and student Meghann Stephenson, the term DIY doesn't seem to cover it. While still attending Parsons full-time, Stephenson has established a well-received body of work and has opened an Etsy shop that serves as further testament to her talent as an artist and a designer. Stephenson's new store has a little bit of everything from her whimsical, sophisticated repertoire, from laser-engraved skateboards to her cage-like necklaces. The main focus, however, is a collection of clutches and dresses made out of fabric block-printed with her illustrations.

We caught up with Stephenson to learn a little more about her collection and where she finds the inspiration (and the energy).

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So you're a freelance illustrator, full-time student, food and style blog writer, Nylon intern and now clothing and jewelry designer. How do you do it? How did you start?

Well, the art started when I was really young. I'm an only child and my parents put me in art classes so I could develop ways to entertain myself. Without siblings I spent a lot of time in my room working on crafty projects, and that became my favorite thing to do. I kept taking art throughout high school and a few summer programs at Pratt and Parsons. I knew I never wanted that typical college experience so Parsons seemed like the perfect fit. I love that it's focused on design, which has allowed me to experiment with illustration in different ways. I've been able to take classes completely focused on illustration, but I also had to learn to build a table. Parsons has made me a very well-rounded designer.

I guess that's how the clothing and jewelry started—I wanted to experiment more and fabric seemed like a natural step up from paper. The blog developed from my lack of hard drive space. I wanted a way to keep track of what I liked and what I was working on, which weirdly involved a lot of cooking. I'm the pickiest eater in the world so learning to cook has really helped with that. I think I'm able to do all these things because I don't separate my work and life; everything is fluid and one informs the other. School, interning, cooking and sewing are all things I genuinely enjoy doing, so the fact that I'm constantly busy doing them doesn't feel like work.

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Where do you find inspiration?

Inspiration is tricky. Sometimes an idea will pop in my mind and I just know that I have to make whatever it is or it'll eat at me. Other times it's the usual: nature, friends or other people's work. It's hard to say how an idea starts, I think it just all goes back to letting life and work inform each other naturally.

When you are making a piece, what does your design process look like?

I have a really bad habit of diving in too quickly when it comes to a design. I'm not really one to plan or scrap ideas. I typically don't do sketches unless I'm figuring out a layout for an illustration and even then that sketch turns into the final. I think there's something to be said about trusting your gut. Sometimes it works and sometimes it results in a lot of weird leftover material in my closet.

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What's the thought behind your braid-centric designs?

I honestly don't know how the braiding developed, or even if it's hair or rope. I'm a constant hair twirler so maybe it's subconscious. It's just something I've been drawing since high school that relaxes me, so I like changing it up once in a while.

Images courtesy of Meghann Stephenson

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