Stephanie Jones Rubiano is a native Texan who graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M at Galveston with a Bachelors of Science in Marine Biology. She worked as an environmental scientist for a major drilling company in Houston, TX for five years after that. She has now chosen art as her career path. She is a mixed-media artist who creates dimensional works within shadow boxes using a variety of uncommon objects.
Her love of nature and fascination with Victorian photography is apparent through her combination of antique photographs and real butterfly or moth wings collected from sustainable sources. Bits of vintage text illustrate her irreverence for straight-laced Victorian society and lend a whimsical air to her pieces. Stephanie’s inner science geek is assuaged by writing the scientific name of each butterfly or moth specimen on the back of the box next to her signature.
Stephanie teaches workshops at national art retreats and has had work shown in galleries and boutiques across the United States. She is also an emerging artist on the art festival scene. In October of 2008 she participated in her first nationally-ranked art festival, the Bayou City Art Festival in Houston, TX and placed 2nd overall out of 300 national artists. Her work has graced the covers of magazines and books as well as been the subject of articles and how-to projects. She lives with her husband and daughter in Austin, TX and can be contacted through www.stephanierubiano.com.
I met Stephanie on a flight from Seattle to Austin in 2012 and talked with her about my idea to launch Art-Xscape. She was very gracious with her thoughts and support and I’ve enjoyed getting to know Stephanie better, as I’ve been a collector of her work for a number of years, purchasing smaller pieces through the Austin holiday market scene at places such as Blue Genie’s Art Bazaar and the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. I’m thrilled to have Stephanie teaching two workshops, Bodacious Butterfly Babes and Enviable Encaustic Panels, at the inaugural Art-Xscape! To learn more about her workshops, visit her Art-Xscape page. To see more of Stephanie’s work, visit her website.
AnLiNa Designs: Stephanie, where did you start your artistic journey? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Stephanie: My interest in art and creating goes back as far as I can remember. I recall, in first grade, that I got in trouble for adding curlicues to all of my letters on a Halloween poem project I made for my mom. It was a present, and I wanted it to look fancy! I was always coloring (nothing like a new box of 64 crayons with a sharpener at the beginning of each school year!), stitching or sculpting. I participated in coloring contests whenever I came across them (and actually won prizes a few times!) and made gifts rather than purchasing them. I LOVED my sewing classes in junior high school. Then when I turned 15, I discovered marine aquariums and my career goals shifted from art to marine biology. I carried that right brain/left brain dichotomy up through my senior year in high school where I was enrolled in Art IV Honors and Biology II Honors!
AnLiNa Designs: I know you are a full time artist now. When did you make the leap from part-time to full-time?
Stephanie: I did work for my parents full-time when I moved back to Austin 6 1/2 years ago, participating in juried art festivals and teaching art workshops on the side. It was a huge moment for me when my mom took me aside one day and told me that she and my dad could see how much my art meant to me and that I should try to do it full-time with their blessing. That was three years ago and I haven’t looked back. I definitely work harder than I ever have, but my soul is very happy. My mom always said you should do things that feed your soul.
AnLiNa Designs: It’s wonderful that you have found your calling. It definitely shows in your work. Describe how you start a new piece. Where do you find your inspiration?
Stephanie: I receive my inspiration from the myriad of antique photos I collect, along with the bits and pieces of antique objects that I find in my wanderings through antique stores. I honestly never know if it will be a photo or object that will trigger an idea. Many times i cut out lots of photos, then start laying out my boxes, adding and subtracting as i go until the final arrangement speaks to me and lets me know it is complete. Some assemblages can happen in minutes, others take months as I wait for them to guide me. I never go in with an exact idea of how something will turn out in the end. That would ruin the surprise for me!
AnLiNa Designs: Do you have a muse?
Stephanie: I can’t really say that I have a particular muse because so much appeals to me and inspires me. I am always on the lookout, though…
AnLiNa Designs: I attended your first open studio event in your home studio this winter. I have to say, your studio is INCREDIBLE! I can’t imagine not being inspired there. Describe a day in your studio.
Stephanie: My day starts with getting my 9 year old daughter ready and off to school, then checking emails, Facebook, and then a little (or a lot of time!) on Pinterest. I have downloaded a lot of music to my computer (a very eclectic collection, I might add!) and it plays all day long. I have to have music on while I am working. These days I don’t have a lot of time for creative play since I need to make inventory for art festivals and galleries, but on those days I do get to play, I wander around my studio room, picking and choosing items that I want to work with in my assemblages. I don’t really work in my studio room anymore…it has become a place for all of my “stuff”. When people walk into that room for the first time, they either think it is a magical place…or they want to call that show “Hoarders” and report me! On the days that I get to work with encaustic wax (which I do on my stove in my kitchen!), I just wake up happy because it is such a wonderful medium to play with.
AnLiNa Designs: You’ve had a big year in 2013, getting juried into the Bayou City Arts Festival. How do you follow that up in 2014?
Stephanie: I think in 2014 I will still make my butterfly boxes and such, but I would like to explore more with textiles and encaustics. I have several ideas that I have been carrying around in my head for a while now. I am also working on marketing merchandise with my artwork on it and planning some online courses…as soon as I can figure out how to video everything and edit it. I am not the most tech savvy person around…
AnLiNa Designs: Do you participate in collaborative projects such as Round Robins?
Stephanie: I have participated in collaborative projects in the past, but don’t really do them any more. However, I did participate in a Christmas Ornament Swap in 2013 that was a lot of fun! I was invited to participate and agreed because it seemed like a pretty nifty thing to end up with 5 fun ornaments!
AnLiNa Designs: Do you participate in a regular art gathering, crit group, or other face to face meeting for the purpose of discussing art or creating it?
Stephanie: I don’t participate in a regular art group gathering…that would be fun…
AnLiNa Designs: What is your favorite part of teaching?
Stephanie: My favorite part of teaching is the interaction with my students. I come to the table with information to share and they throw it right back to me with their unique ideas on the project. I love the creative energy that manifests during these times and the camaraderie that develops. Some of my best friends were students in my workshops and I am forever grateful for that opportunity to have found them.
AnLiNa Designs: Thanks Stephanie!
Stephanie’s teaching two workshops at Art-Xscape 2014: Bodacious Butterfly Babes and Enviable Encaustic Panels.