Stephanie Whittaker, a.k.a. S. Whittaker is a visual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. For her latest series “Woman”, the artist features graphic, pop-infuses depictions of women of color. The series has also gone digital with a unique Instagram only exhibition.
SS: How long have you been creating art?
SW: I have been creating Art ever since I could pick up a pencil which was at the Age of 2.
SS: What mediums do you generally prefer to work in?
SW: I enjoy working with Oil and Acrylic paint. I also love to sketch in Pencils, Charcoals and Graphite Pencils. I occasionally experiment with different mediums which led me to create my own, which I used for my 1st ever Instagram exhibit called the “S. Whittaker Seasoning”.
SS:What inspires you to create? What inspired you to create “Woman”?
SW: What inspired us to create “Woman” was (CEO) of Reign Entertainment Co., also my Manager Robyn Willard and I having a conversation on what to do next. We both felt like there was a missing void of celebrating Women who have contributed so much to this world and have inspired so many people. The idea of premiering the 1st Ever Instagram Art Exhibit “Woman” was actually birthed by Robyn. Robyn wanted to reach a broader audience and showcase an art exhibit in such a different way that would allow people to engage with us, while spreading brand awareness. Yes, there are many artists on Instagram who showcase their work. The difference is we took it to another level by the way we showcased each piece accompanied with music and or vocal snippets.
SS:What message do you hope to convey through your artwork?
SW: The message which I hope to convey is the ability to be creative beyond limits. I paint how I feel with the intent to push the boundaries and teach the people. A lot of artist do portraits but how can I elevate mine to another level. A lot of artist paint celebrities but what’s the story behind the celebrities I paint. I don’t paint people or “celebrities” for them to notice but to simply say thank you for the impact that you’ve had on me or Robyn or a family member etc. Sometimes people don’t realize how much of an impact they can have on another person’s life without ever meeting them and hopefully I can make that same impression on others in my career. It’s one thing to have a talent but it’s everything to put meaning behind it and that’s what I want people to walk away with after seeing my paintings.
SS: Do you consider yourself to be a feminist or a womanist?
I believe in and respect the abilities and talents of all women and of all races, especially when I am a woman who is willing to fight and stand for my rights. Now let me say, we do not limit ourselves to only supporting women and we support Men as well. However, we felt that women weren’t being highlighted in a positive light for all that we’ve done and continue to do. We just wanted to pay homage and celebrate Women. We wanted to paint Women who have and continue to pave the way and Robyn and I felt that this project was important for us to do, especially since we are young women paving and creating our own story.
SS: How important do you think feminism is to creating artwork and images of women?
I believe that overall it is important to have “respect” towards women and women empowerment in order to be able to have a strong voice or visual that supports women. You can be an artist creating any body of work as long as it’s from a positive stance and not an negative depiction.
SS: Do you feel that technology and social media are integral for woman artists of color?
I think any outlet that gives you the opportunity to share your talent is a plus. I believe if you’re using social media the right way, it can be very budget friendly and a great marketing tool. With that being said, look at what the women we’ve highlighted in the “Woman” art exhibit and what they’ve accomplished without it. Some would argue social media and technology can be the cause of over saturation and mediocrity. I would say it’s 50/50 for me.
SS: What do you consider an advantage to displaying your work via social media?
There are many advantages in displaying art work via social media. One advantage is that it reaches a larger audience, you can interact with any and everybody and it’s free marketing.
SS: Do you feel that there are any disadvantages?
There can be some disadvantages if you aren’t committed and dedicated to building your brand. For instance, you may have copy cats that are watching what you do and one day they decide to put out the samething and call it their own style. It’s definitely a race for “Who’s done it first” and how many people know that you are the originator.
SS: What are some offline venues that you have displayed work in the past?
We have displayed my work at Top of Madison Square Garden in New York City. After the “Woman” art exhibit debuted, we’ve displayed work at over 20 events in only 3 Months and have also displayed the “Woman” art line in L.A. California this past August of 2014 at the 2014 Merge Summit. My work also is displayed at CBS studios in New York.
SS: Do you have a specific piece that you have created which is most meaningful to you?
One piece that I have created that is meaningful to me is a painting for Robin Roberts and she is currently hanging this painting in her dressing room. She loves the piece so much, she shared it on twitter and it received so much love and retweets. The movement to fight Cancer disease inspired me to paint Robin Roberts. She held on, fought and showcased so much strength to the world. This was just too inspiring. We miss this piece but she definitely deserved it.
SS: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with our readers?
We have some up and coming events that are surprises and they will be posted on the event section of Reign Entertainment, or on my Instagram and Twitter pages @SWhittakerREC.