Stephen Blickenstaff, Local Artist, Gives Advice About Art and Creativity
by Declan Poehler
Stephen Blickenstaff is a local artist that everyone should be aware of. Over the years his work has been used by many well-known bands as well as Guitar Player Magazine.
Q: How did you start making art, and why do you continue to make it?
A: I started drawing when I was old enough to hold a pencil. As a kid I was always interested in monsters, dinosaurs and insects, and I would spend most of my time drawing them. When the other kids were outside playing sports, I was off on my own drawing. It wasn’t something I did because others were doing it. It was something I had to do to feel content and I’m sure it’ll always be that way.”
Q: Is there an artwork here you are most proud of? Why?
A: I’d have to say the artwork I did for The Cramps (Bad Music For Bad People) album. At the time I drew it I would have never guessed that it would eventually become such a recognized and mass produced image. The image seems to have taken on a life of its own. It was appropriately drawn on Halloween day. Another project that I recently finished that I’m really proud of was the artwork for the Mondo Zombie Boogaloo album and tour featuring three of my favorite bands (The Fleshtones, Southern Culture On The Skids and Los Straitjackets). I did all of the artwork and entire graphic layout for the LP, CD, tour poster, T-shirts and concert tickets. I even got to play theremin with Southern Culture On The Skids on the tune ‘Jack The Ripper’ at the Washington D.C. show during the tour.
Q: What inspires you?
A: When I see the collected works of other artists who I admire, it really gets me fired up. I just can’t wait to get started on my own work. All sorts of things can actually inspire me, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be visual inspiration. Certain types of music can inspire me just as easily.
Q: How do you know when a work is finished?
A: I can usually tell when a piece is finished by just standing back and looking at it from a distance to make sure I’ve completed all of the shadows and highlights. It can sometimes be tricky, especially with my pen and ink work because those pieces usually contain a lot of detail. If I can look at a piece for ten minutes and I’m satisfied with the way it looks, I know I’m finished.
Q: How do you think a band’s artwork affects their image?
A: I think the artwork or graphics that a band uses to represent their image is very important because it’s what their fans remember and connect with when they think about the band or listen to their music. A graphic logo that looks good on a poster or a T-shirt can quickly help a band to become better known. I’ve bought music before based on the artwork or album cover, without even hearing what the band sounds like. It’s like the importance of an attractive cover on a book. I know they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but if the cover looks good people are more likely to pick it up.
Q: What would you recommend young artists do to get their work out there?
A: A good start would be to simply get your art out into the public eye by designing posters and T-shirts for bands, even if it’s for free at first. Make sure to sign your work so people know you did it. Get involved with group art shows and eventually build up enough material to have solo art shows. If the work is good and you keep at it long enough, people will take notice.