Interview with Luxury Graffiti Artist Stephen Wilson
With a dedication to the craft of embroidered iconography, mimicking graffiti tags and mixing shapes from classic stars and skulls to emojis and brass knuckles, Stephen Wilson relishes the idea by artistically giving a new lease on life to designer packages, not only celebrating their place in culture but by creating his own perspective and concept.
His blended art has been seen in exhibitions all over the world and across the US in galleries, museums, blue-chip collections, high end pop up shows, such as his current solo show “Luxury Graffiti” in the Hamptons where he pushes technical boundaries to create supersized luxury boxes. Read on to learn more about Stephen below:
How did you get started as an artist?
While I have always been a creative – I freelanced as an embroidery designer in the fashion garment industry in the 90s, founded a commercial embroidery design company and even used to play in a rock band – I would say I actually started as an artist by first seeking and collecting contemporary art. As I grew in my development as a collector, it was actually the gallerist that pushed me into establishing to my own formalized art practice. She had seen the skills in embroidery and quilting which I had mastered over my commercial career and encouraged me to apply this technique to expressing what I wanted to say as an artist.
What made you gravitate towards mixed media?
Working with thread and fabrics naturally places my work into the mixed-media sphere. But I gravitate to incorporating even more types of media because of the challenge. I always am trying to push the medium to the next level, to do something with embroidery that has never been seen before. So I go out looking for ways to push that – like stitching on different materials, photograph or shoeboxes, or adding embroidery-work to oil painting.
What do you love about blending art with tech?
I see technology as a tool that allows for more possibility. What could never be technically possible by hand, is now accessible. I get really excited about innovation and new developments in the field- for example, I just got the latest industrial embroidery machine by Tajima – it’s the largest in the world, so with some engineering and experimentation, I can make work now at a scale that was previously unattainable. It is the way that I apply these developments in tech into my practice that really takes work to new heights.
Tell us about your new exhibit and what we can expect to see.
I’m really excited to be exhibiting as an artist at Aqua during Art Basel Miami this December. When they invited me to do a solo-exhibition, my brain immediately started turning around the idea of creating the space as an artwork itself. It’s really different from past fairs I’ve participated in where my gallerists are just bringing a selection of my work to their booth. This exhibition at Aqua will have a story throughout and you can expect to experience that and make your own connections to it – I want the booth itself and all of the work that I’m bringing to it – to magnify some of these observations I’m making about our society at large, especially in regards to how we participate in street culture and fashion.
I want people to spend time and hang out having fun in my booth. It’s going to be decked out with embroidery like you’ve never experienced. You can expect to see maximalist mixed-media work, new sculptures, and lots of references to luxury and street brands. There is also a focus on making it accessible to art-goers at every level, whether that means you want to take an Instagram in front of my work or purchase an original piece.
What's your favorite medium to work in?
I work in multiple mediums, so it is hard to be singular and pick a favorite. Embroidery is the basis of my art. Oils are fun but I do not enjoy the drying-process, patience is key there. All of my work is really time-intensive actually so I like to do multiple pieces at the same time where I am building individual components for weeks and weeks and then it all comes together at the end.
Anything else to add?
Check out my Instagram account @stephenwilsonstudio – I have a bet against one of my gallerists on who will hit 10,000 followers first
Luxury Graffiti at Roman Fine Art in the Hamptons will run until November 4th.