Stephanie Hyder | Artist
Full time job = SAHM (stay a home mama) – 4 yr old son Vince.
Part time job- Fashion and Costume Designer/ Artist/ Seamstress/ Craftswoman.
Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design, Minor in Studio Art from Marymount University in Washington, DC.
I have been commissioned for custom artwork, wedding gowns, wedding accessories, and three piece tailored suit.
I have been a contracted costume designer for local brewery promotional videos, Maryland Ensemble Theater (The Elephant Man, Cat in the Hat, Frankenstein), and McDaniel College Theater Department (Picasso at the Lapin Agile).
I have also been a fashion designer and stylist for themed photoshoots.
Owner of the Etsy Shoppe Unicorn Nature (play on words: Unique Ornature (meaning decoration))
Vendor for local gift shops, coffee shops and festivals.
Exhibited artist at Café Nola, Flying Dog Brewery and The Muse.
What inspired you to become an artist?
I grew up watching my mom- always creating and sewing. Lots of trips to the fabric store for her to make clothes, Halloween costumes, things for the house, quilts, etc. My dad loved music, my sister went to school for dance, I enjoyed dancing my entire childhood (and still do), my brother was great at sketching and painting…I was surrounded by art. It was only a matter of time before I found my niche. First I was interested in 2-dimensional art and pursued that throughout high school. I really loved figure drawing. Combine that with living beside an entire room filled with machines and fabric, never having clothes that fit because of my height, and wanting to pursue a craft- I went the fashion design route for my education. Once I started the fashion program at MU I was addicted. I feel so lucky not only to have found an outlet where I can use my hands to create something I am passionate about, but also to have embraced that outlet early enough in life to learn the skillsets, earning a degree I basically use every day - it seems like not many people can say the same things.
How do you juggle life’s responsibilities and art career?
I don’t! At least it feels like I don’t. It is very difficult and comes with a price. There are times I miss out on fun memories, but I enjoy working hard, working late and all the hours in the studio. To some it seems I am stressed out because I overload myself with projects they think I don’t have time for, the work is what keeps my hands and mind happy, the stress comes from still finding out how to budget my time. I am home with Vince almost 24/7 and my studio is also at home. I have no separate location to work, so even when I try to be productive the creative process is interrupted by “mama I spilled something” or “the dog looked at me funny- he needs a timeout” or “mama let’s build a fort!” One of two things very important to me suffers every day, it just depends on whether there is a deadline to know which one- time with my son and family or work.
Since Vince is at the age where he wants to help with everything, I try to find ways to include him. If a garment pattern needs cut out, I draw shapes for him to cut out. If I am painting with beer, he paints with chocolate syrup beside me. If I need to sew, we play a racing game where I say “red light” or “green light” for him know when to push my foot with his foot so he thinks he is operating the pedal. He also now has his own small sewing machine for sling shot making and super hero capes. (I believe every boy should know how to sew just as every girl should know how to uppercut properly).
There is a lot of trade off of parental duties once Daddy is home weekdays, who by the way is as supportive as they come. He understands that if I don’t have an outlet for design I would go certifiably insane. He is my biggest cheerleader. We try to set aside certain times for family time…make one meal a week from scratch all together, save Sundays for hikes or day trips, etc. Just trying to keep things balanced. Kids only get one childhood.
Advice to young artists who want to follow their dreams?
If you have a passion for something, something that fuels you- nurture that. Find a way. Make the time. There will be people- usually the ones that don’t know or understand the fulfillment that comes from having a creative mind- that will be skeptical of your dreams and goals. They perceive things in a different way- careers, priorities, and the definition of realistic…to each their own. Use all the “advice” they offer to drive you further into the direction you see yourself going.
It’s definitely hard, with other jobs, kids, busy schedules- but at the end of a hectic day when you see your work in a local magazine or someone shares their excitement of something you created on social media, or when a critic review comes out that interprets your visual work exactly the way you intended it to be interpreted- that feeling is when you know it’s worth it.
Things you don’t lose sleep over, spend hours doubting the process, even more hours producing, destroying, re-inventing, - anything else just isn’t as satisfying. Push though the tough times, the reward is waiting somewhere. Kind of similar to kids. I’ve been at this motherhood thing for four years now and I have no clue what I am doing. But I do it. There isn’t a choice. There are amazing days and not so amazing days. The same thing that can wear down your spirit can be what lifts it up later. You just have to let it do both, and try again the next day.
What makes you and your work original?
It would be great if there was a formula to be unlike any other artist. But since that is what every artist is trying to achieve in such a competitive atmosphere, it will never exist. Personally I try to see things in a different light. Especially things you find yourself around every day or have connections to. For instance I used to work at a brewery when I was going through this “Modern Pin Up” phase, so I eventually started adding color to my ink and charcoal sketches with dark beers- giving the pieces a sepia tone with a backwash of beer acting as watercolor.
My brother and a couple friends had some spare bike parts that they asked if I wanted to play with before they threw away. I cut up feather looking earrings from bike tubing, other jewelry with bike chain links (both of which turned out I wasn’t the first to think of by the way- thinking you have something original that isn’t WILL happen, and more than once), and made stencils for ties and handkerchiefs from mountain bike gears.
Know your strengths and expand on them.
Keep your eyes always open to let inspiration come- carry a notebook. Good ideas don’t usually come twice.
Force yourself to create something if it’s been a while.
I find I have to keep hands moving, even if that just means knitting.
Having a community of fellow creators is a huge help and this area is overflowing with a variety of them. Emily Gude (Photographer and Artist), Tim Martin (Filmmaker), Becky Jane Harrington (Fashion Designer and Seamstress), Harry Harne (Designer of string instruments), Goodloe Byron (Artist), Jake Knill (Wood Artist and Fabricator), Julie Herber and Tad Janes (Maryland Ensemble Theater Artistic Directors and masterminds) plus all the minds behind MET productions… I feel like I hit the jackpot getting to know such a diverse network. You have to keep your right brain well-exercised and challenged. Merely having conversations with other artists is beneficial. Bounce ideas off of each other, design projects to collaborate on that demonstrate all talents of those involved. It’s a great way to develop end results that are outside of your usual comfort zones and produce something great you might not have ever thought of on your own.