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Stephen Schildbach

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In 1993, I started my illustration career immediately after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design with an MFA in illustration. I moved to Brooklyn, NY with two friends, Alan Carr and Ralph Voltz, also illustrators and SCAD graduates. While working in New York City at a publishing house, I pursued a part-time career in illustration.

In the fall of 1995, I moved to Seattle, WA. The surrounding majestic mountains, animals, trees and ferns, combined with the many progressive creative people who lived in the city, attracted me, and have kept me here. It was here that I started a full-time freelance illustration career. For several years, my only career consisted of freelance illustration for magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, posters and advertising campaigns.

In 2002, during the last recession, I started painting personal pieces that turned into a body of work to show in galleries. While working at a homeless shelter, I put my illustration career temporarily aside and focused on personal paintings. My personal work strongly influenced my illustration work, and I have continued to cultivate my fine art and illustration as two separate bodies of work but influenced by each other.

Up until mid 2005, my illustration work was entirely created with traditional materials, mostly in acrylic. I didn't even own a computer until 1999! I have always preferred the look of art created by hand, where the human touch conveys so much more emotion than a computer generated piece of visual art. But, as I played catch-up on the computer, I saw opportunities to expand my illustration style with the use of Photoshop, while not abandoning the hand done aesthetic that I enjoy. My work evolved into a technique of combining traditional materials with the use of Photoshop.

As the commercial arts and technology changes at an ever increasing rate, editorial illustration opportunities keep shrinking making it impossible to make a living as an illustrator. In 2006, I went back to school to learn graphic design and web design at School of Visual Concepts in Seattle. Over time, web design has become my focus and my second career. But, I still leave time for occasional illustration assignments and space for making new fine art.

In 2008, I married Monica Schley, a harpist and poet. We live the married life with our two cats in Rainier Beach, Seattle, WA. Now, being in an even deeper recession, I anticipate, illustration to fall even further on the back burner opening up time for me to more fine art projects while furthering my career in web design and web development.