8th January 2020

Orla Stevens

I am now firmly entering my seventeenth month as a full time self employed artist and designer!

What a learning curve it’s been. The decision to jump head first into self employment came at what was to me a natural point – having had the luxury of a few months off, after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art in 2018. For three months I didn’t do much but sleep, eat, see friends and family, and be outside. I was staying at my parents surrounded by hills and forests which gave me the recharge that I needed after an intense final year, and the subconscious inspiration seeping in from my everyday calm environment reconnected me to what was important, and has been inspiring my work ever since.

With fully recharged batteries and an empty purse, I figured that there was no better time for trying out self-employment - I was used to being unsalaried. Teaching music paid my way through university, so up till then I never had an official conventional job for very long. Used to uncertainty, now was the time to go all guns blazing and see if I could be self sufficient – and better yet, grow a business of my own.

It’s only recently that I’ve had the courage to use the title ‘business’ in reference to my artistic practice. It took years before hand to accept and tentatively use the term ‘artist’ - even if I am just emerging in the early years of my practice. If there’s anything I can take from the last months, it’s that a quiet confidence is the only way to learn and grow creatively; and that acceptance and a little bit of self praise is healthy for maintaining and building work, and developing client relationships. I struggled with these titles for a long time, terrified that people would label me as pretentious. Now I’ve come to realise that when I’m transparent with my thoughts and message creatively, the people that are meant to resonate will connect, and the ones that aren’t meant to, won’t. Simple.

Creatively, these initial months have been exactly what I’ve wanted them to be – messy, constructive, and full of trial and error. I’ve deepened my painting practice; massively helped by the number of creative influential people I’ve met. Additionally, I’ve been taking on numerous graphics design projects; allowing me to improve my software skills much further than before – seeing this progression has been wonderful. Jumping from graphics to textiles to painting has opened up a new perspective to my practice, and the realisation that I need the balance of conceptual and commercial work to keep my mind stimulated and focused. Each discipline influences the other.

For a long time after my textile degree, I focused purely on painting. In the last few months I’ve loved bringing some textile work back into my practice, and am noticing the bridge between textile and painting practice coming closer as material, processes and technique inform and speak to the other. I see my work in 2020 blending craft and fine art processes more frequently. Exploring sense and multi sensory experience of place in a more directed manner than before. I look forward to showcasing more collaboration between other makers, designers and musicians – taking full advantage of the buzzing art community that Scotland has, and what we can learn from one another. Spending more time exploring the wild, quiet parts of this beautiful country, and connecting to the environments which are so good for us.

Great Reads 2019 :

Threads of Life - stories of embroidery throughout history

The Living Mountain - An ode to the cairngorms, and being of nature

Brain Pickings - Just the whole site, it's beautiful.

At the Loch of the Green Corrie - A tribute to Norman MacCaig, the people and landscape

of Assynt.

Website: www.orlastevens.com


Email: os@orlastevens.com


Instagram: @orlastevens

Facebook: @orlastevensart

orla stevens
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