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).
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.
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.
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