Stephanie Guillen discovered her love for creative expression through painting as a child. She has since nurtured that love into a life-long passion. Today, she is a visual artist who realizes her creativity mainly through photographic works, which she also processes into mixed media collages on canvas. Her images are complex and characterized by a subtle eeriness and dreaminess.
Some of her work has been shown in galleries, art festivals, and local events in Jersey City, New York, London, and Zurich. She has been featured in the Artist Portfolio magazine as well as in the Photographer's Forum's books, Best of Photography 2013 and 2015.
To learn more about Stephanie, go to www.stephanieguillen.com
April 3, 2016
By Klara Gomez
What drives you to create?
The love for it and the feeling it gives me. When I work on my art I clear my head and focus one-hundred-percent on my hands and what they are doing. Everything else fades as I dive deeper into the world I am creating in that moment. At the end of a productive day I am balanced, truly happy, and motivated to do more. It keeps me sane.
How did you fall in love with art?
Instead of picking up dolls as a child, I picked up paintbrushes. I believe I fell in love with colors and paper and their magic very early.
Your work seems to come directly from a place that’s both highly imaginative and innocent. To try to understand this place, could you please share your most cherished childhood memory?
Honestly, I can't think of a specific cherished childhood memory. Every summer throughout my childhood we used to spent a month in Italy at the beach. Switzerland has no sea, so this was very special. I think that was the highlight of every year while growing up. I always loved traveling.
Were there any difficulties that you experienced while growing up that played into your decision to express yourself through art?
I never really thought about it; but when I do now, I believe that being a heavy stutterer from early childhood until I was fourteen years old surely supported my need to express myself in a visual way.
Interview with Visual Artist, Stephanie Guillen
Who encouraged you and played a decisive role early in your career?
Time and tools to paint and create were always provided in my childhood home. Later on, it was my grandmother who suggested to take my art further and expose and exhibit it. My husband's support and enthusiasm has always been there. He's the one I exchange ideas with, old and new, and he's the one I consult if I'm stuck in any way. He's my best adviser. He never misses a show and is always by my side. Also, I have a friend, a incredibly talented artist, in Jersey City who encouraged and supported me when I started to exhibit my works, when I was "new in town".
What artists have influenced your work?
There's Salvador Dali.
Do you find yourself blocked at times or is it easy to contact the muse?
Oh, yes, unfortunately there are phases when I'm blocked and it's not easy to get out of it.
What helps you come out of the rut?
Sit down and start to work, not matter what. The inspiration comes with the action.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a visual artist?
To step out of my comfort zone.
Some artists can take forever on a single composition. Some never seem to be fully satisfied with their creations. How do you know when a piece is finished and ready to be showcased?
When I feel harmony looking at it. Then I know it's finished.
I find your compositions to be deeply rich, peaceful, and often otherworldly. It’s almost as if you were tuned into the universal consciousness at another level, on a different dimension. Do you find yourself bridging the gap between the mundane and the dream-world? Is there a spiritual process that works alongside the creative one?
This is an interesting thought. I believe that everything spiritual that may influence or lead to a piece of art I create is going on unconsciously. I am not aware of it. I believe that my subconsciousness is a very vivid and colorful place, but unfortunately my access to it is very limited. But it talks to me when I create pieces of art.
You are a traveler. You’ve lived in Europe and in the United States. Does your geographic location influence your creative state of mind? How so?
Yes, very much so! As I love to travel, everything new is highly inspiring for me, and I am flooded with new impressions, waiting to be transformed. Also, in the United States, where we lived for seven years, I felt that unique spirit, there's room for dreams and the to-do attitude to follow them and to make them happen. There are possibilities and the support to grow, there's no fear to risk something. In Switzerland, there's not much room for dreams, there's no room to grow. There's definitely no room for risks.
What about inspiration? How does the Old World mentality and history influence your work in contrast to the New World? I have never lived in Europe, but when I've visited I feel as if I'm visited by a very different muse.
Yes, actually, you're right. Switzerland is a very small country. It doesn't have much variety in landscapes. We have mountains but no sea, no desert. We have woods, but they're always the same. By going to America and exploring all those different landscapes--the Grand Canyon, the woods in Pennsylvania, all that open space--subconsciously, it influenced my work. I was able to think bigger. Also, I had so much to photograph! I mean, coming from Switzerland, New York is such a big place. It was like a huge canvas, a great adventure. It motivated me to take pictures of everything. It was all new, exciting, something I'd never seen before. Living there for seven years I got a feeling for the city. It definitely influenced me. It was in America where I started exposing my work.
And we look forward to seeing your work in America again. Thank you, Stephanie, for taking the time to chat with us today. We wish you many happy travels, much success, and inspiration.
"Doll Wars" © Stephanie Guillen
"The Minstrel's Prophecy" © Stephanie Guillen
"Fading" © Stephanie Guillen