Stephen Schildbach

In 1993, I started my illustration career immediately after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design with an MFA in illustration. I moved to Brooklyn, NY with two friends, Alan Carr and Ralph Voltz, also illustrators and SCAD graduates. While working in New York City at a publishing house, I pursued a part-time career in illustration. After two years of living discontented in NYC, I knew it was time to leave when I found myself sleeping through my stop and waking up at 4am at the end of the line on the F train, staring at a Ferris Wheel in Coney Island with my wallet missing.

In the fall of 1995, I moved to Seattle, WA. The surrounding majestic mountains, animals, trees and ferns, combined with the many progressive creative people who lived in the city, attracted me, and have kept me here. It was here that I started a full-time freelance illustration career.

Starting in 2000, during the early rein of "King George the W" and as our nation slipped into a recession, I was driven by a restlessness to do more personal work and start showing my paintings in galleries and other locations around Seattle. As our nation spiraled into an age of fear after September 11, 2001, one of my personal goals was to be more fearless. With little work in the commercial arts, I worked at a homeless shelter and continued painting more personal art that resembled my character, rather than following the commercial styles of illustration. My personal work strongly influenced my illustration work, and I have been cultivating two portfolios of work ever since. The bold, blocky, graphic illustrations seen in Portfolio 1 have mostly served as my commercial illustrations for business magazines; while the paintings with the scratchy thin-lined renderings of mantaged objects, as seen in Portfolio 2, have become my personal work for more alternative illustration assignments and showings in galleries.

Up until mid 2005, my illustration work was entirely created with traditional materials, mostly in acrylic. I didn't even own a computer until 1999! I have always preferred the look of art created by hand, where the human touch conveys so much more emotion than a computer generated piece of visual art. But, as I played catch-up on the computer, I saw opportunities to expand my illustration style with the use of Photoshop, while not abandoning the hand done aesthetic that I enjoy. By the end of 2005, my preferred illustration technique became the combining of traditional materials with the use of Photoshop. Oddly, the techniques I developed by using Photoshop, influenced the way I approach my fine art. Although I do not use the computer for my fine art, I do combine imagery, much the way objects are layered in Photoshop.

With Seattle being one of the world centers for computer technology and the internet, once again I was influenced by my environment. I couldn't help but feel like I was limiting myself as an illustrator and painter. Not to mention, with the computer replacing traditional illustration, and corporations like Getty and other stock agencies stealing such a large portion of the illustrator and photographer's income, it became nearly impossible to make a full-time living as an illustrator. In 2006, I decided to go back to school and learn print and web design. Because so many principles of graphic design are similar to illustration, I was quickly receptive, but wanted to additionally take on the challenges of web design. Although I have expanded into these fields, I will not abandon illustration or fine art. They will simply be additions to my career in design and fine art.

In 2008, two major experiences not related to my career will happen. I will get married to the love of my life, Monica Schley, in May and will turn 40 in September. You could probably guess that I look more forward to the former than the latter, but am so grateful to have made it this far and whole heartedly welcome marriage and my 40's.