We had the good fortune of connecting with Stefanie Bales and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stefanie, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Besides the unwavering support of both my parents and my husband in pursuing a career in the arts, I believe a lot of my success lies in my approach to building my brand and career. I knew from the get-go that I didn’t want to live out the starving artist stereotype and that I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to “make it” as an artist- both commercially or financially. I built my career slowly, over many years, rather than just moving to NYC or LA and going all in off the bat. After college I worked an an art deco company for a year before returning to grad school and then beginning my decade long professorship at a local Multimedia Design College. While teaching, I worked to build both my portfolio, my network, and my brand image locally, landing me my first opportunity for gallery representation back on 2014. I continued on this trajectory for few years longer, and it wasn’t until early 2018 that I felt my brand was strong and visible enough to have it be my full-time thing. I taught my last class at the college and a month later opened the Stefanie Bales Fine Art Gallery. Another important note that helped along the way is that early in my career (and still often today!) I followed what I consider to be “the path of least resistance”- meaning there was a lot of trial and error- I’d put things out there and see what stuck- what resonated, what people responded to, or what opportunities arose from those said things- and further pursue the ones that “won”. I said yes to pretty much every opportunity (many to my dismay after the fact, unfortunately) and I wasn’t afraid to just go for it. So I did go all in- I just did it strategically.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My artwork, across genres and platforms, is easily recognizable because of its distinctive color palette, energy, and whimsy. In the gallery circuit, I’m best known for the original painting process that I developed, that as far as I know, is distinctive only to my work. My process is similar to collage work, but instead of cut and paste, I’m using an ink transfer process to transfer bits of texture and imagery onto the canvas which I intermix with my primary medium- acrylic paint. This lends to an overall visual that plays upon both hyper-realism and surrealism, but also in some way pays homage to impressionism with regards to the focus on the role of light and time. My aim is that the viewer sees the work as a whole, and it isn’t until further investigation that the incongruities that give it it’s “dream-like” qualities are noticed. With that being said, the visual by-product is actually secondary to what my technique lends in process. What this method allows is a certain freedom to respond intuitively to color, texture and form since I don’t have a set visual map or frame of reference that I’m following. I start with one inspiration, be that color, concept or form, and just let the painting come to itself with each progressive mark. It’s an exciting way to work because it allows me to a peek into my own subconscious and reflect upon my visual preferences, inclinations and memories as my body of work grows. I’ve definitely discovered my strong feminine point of view by working this way.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m going to bullet point these for the sake of clarity and brevity! -Little Italy coffee shop hop- visiting Lofty Coffee, Frost me Gourmet, and Parakeet Cafe – with a pit stop at (shameless plug) Stefanie Bales Fine Art! -Ride the ferry to Coronado and back -An afternoon at Balboa Park- visiting the SDMA and Timken Museum and ending at Panama 66 -Dinner at Kettner Exchange -Wine + Cocktails at Born and Raised -Cruise around Prospect Street (and to see the seals, if a first timer) in La Jolla before enjoying the crab cakes and a glass of rose at La Valencia. -Daily hot yoga at either Core Power or Yoga 6 (yes I make my visitors work out with me) -A day of Local San Diego Wine Tasting -A Concert at The Observatory -Beach day! Either at Windansea or Kellogg
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Scott supports and makes sacrifices for the sake of the success of my career. He truly believes my success is our success and is known to (almost embarassingly) champion my work and brand at every opportunity. I’m so grateful for him!
Angela Garzon / Create with Gusto – @createwithgusto