If ever there was a person that the phrase 'a rose amongst the thorns' was penned for it would have to be the obsessively happy UK based illustrator, typographer and sticker collector Steph Baxter, aka STEPH SAYS HELLO.
Living in sunny Leeds with a cat named Tibby, this talented ball of creativity draws most of her work by hand whilst making sure to be as positive as she can in her day to day life, something that pops through immediately, like a glove-slap to the face when looking through her work.
Now the weird thing is I didn't get to meet Steph in person due to the overwhelming amount of people that turned up to see her work in the latest instalment of Lyrics and Type: Verse 2 in London but i did catch up with her afterwards and over the airwaves to ask her a few questions about her happy little self. It was probably for the best really as i've heard of people exploding with feelings of positivity within a second after meeting her so all of you BEWARE: This interview may cause uncontrollable smiling. And If the problem persists, well… Steph has done her job!
Hello Steph says Wooden Toy! please tell our readers a bit about your bright and cheery self? Hello! My Names Steph Baxter (AKA. Steph Says Hello) I'm a freelance illustrator from Leeds, UK and I recently graduated from the pretty ace Leeds College of Art. OK, formalities out of the way.. I spend 90% of my day with a pen in my hand doodling, drawing, creating cute things from the far reaches of my tiny mind! When I'm not drawing I can usually be found drinking tea, eating sweets, going on trips to the seaside and cuddling my cat Tibby. I live for nice things. Nice food, nice places, nice art. I can't be happy unless I'm surrounded by colourful things.
"I've always been quite childish at heart - I love children's sense of fun and imagination, I think some adults could do with a dose of that fun sometimes too!"
A lot of styled typography and illustration shows through in your work when looking at your website. Would you say you're one of these or more of a creative multi ninja? Tell us how you would describe what you do? You know, I don't really know! My typography seems to be getting a really good response as of late, but I couldn't really call myself a typographer because I just don't know enough about it! I want to try everything! But really I think I'm still trying to find my place in illustration and my style is constantly evolving... So maybe the best description for me would be "creative-doodler-colourful-ninja-type-lady-who-likes-hand-drawn-type"
You cannot look at your work and possibly feel unhappy! Pretty much all of your work comes across as you say 'offensively cute and happy'. I'm assuming these bright undertones are a visual response to the person you are but what are some of the other reasons behind this approach? Aww, thanks! I think my art is a direct reflection of who I am (most of the time!) I try to be as positive as I can in my day to day life. I've always been quite childish at heart - I love children's sense of fun and imagination, I think some adults could do with a dose of that fun sometimes too! And at the risk of sounding like I know something (I don't) I think bright colours and imagery trigger a response in people be it good or bad, and in a way thats what I'm trying to do with my art. Usually it's a positive response, which is good!
Which leads me to my next question, do you ever get angry? Haha! Yes, unfortunately I do. I probably get angrier than most people! But my anger disappears scarily quickly. I just can't stay mad (which isn't a good thing all the time!) I just think life is too short. I've got a right potty mouth on me too!
"In the past I've collected: sugar packets, vinyl toys, vintage postcards and old photographs. I currently can't live without Lemon & Ginger tea, Seabrook crisps and my cuddly toy cat, Nugget"
I recently invited you to take part in my Lyrics and Type Verse 2 show in London in which we never got to meet (sad face). Please tell us what you thought of the project and about your response to music and Type?
I know! How sad is that? I put it down to the fact that it was so full on opening night! Lyrics & Type Verse 2 was amazing! I feel honoured to have been able to take part. Everyone should check out the artists pieces.. My favourite was by Allan Sanders. Gorgeous! I chose to illustrate the line "Everything Will Be Fine" from the song A Summer Wasting by Belle & Sebastian. I thought it was pretty apt for my style of work, as well as representing my complete and unadulterated love for Belle & Sebastian!
Through your involvement in Lyrics and Type we know you love music but what are some of your other loves that make your days and creative time that much more enjoyable? What crazy collections do you own and what can't you live without? Good grief I'm a terrible hoarder! My biggest collection is cute stickers. It's not very exciting I know but my collection is getting pretty absurdly huge! I go through phases in terms of what I collect. In the past I've collected: sugar packets, vinyl toys, vintage postcards and old photographs. I currently can't live without Lemon & Ginger tea, Seabrook crisps and my cuddly toy cat, Nugget. He's real, you know.. Told you I was a child at heart! Thats one word for it at least...
'In cats we trust' This should be a national anthem. I too love cats so please tell us about this feline cat related project with Moncho Ediciones? Meow!!! A cat themed national anthem? Thats a pretty awesome idea. Right, what I can tell you is that its a little book which will be filled with cat illustrations by illustrators who love cats! Isn't that the best sounding book ever? I'm really happy to be part of it, its a fun little project :)
What are you reading or looking at right now between making your art? I'm currently reading a really boring book on taxes and book keeping! It's so dire it's like being back at school. To counter the boredom I like to look at the book "Treeson & Other Stories" By Bubi Au Yeung which is filled with lovely happy drawings and stories. It's nice to read before bed :)
My gosh, where are your cards when you're looking for that perfect card for that perfect someone? You seem to have done a few card designs, is this something that you get asked to do a lot? As your work is very suited to the happy experience of card giving! I'm planning on getting some of my cards printed for me to sell independently in the near future.. It's a big step for me though, I'm always worried that my things won't sell! I've been designing more and more cards for various companies recently - things have been picking up! I think the simplicity of childish illustrations translates well onto greetings cards.
Finally, whats coming up? Looks like you're in another exhibition at EAST Gallery later in the year? Neat! Tell us about this and about any other top secret creative plans you may have cooking for making the world a happier place. I am indeed! I'm very excited to be part of Inky Goodness 4 in September. I'm pretty excited about that, I'll be selling some original artwork too.. Which should be fun! I'm currently doing a range of card designs for the new online greetings card site, Card Tribe and a pretty fun stationary range for a company I love! I'm sorry, I don't know how much I can tell you.. Exciting things are happening.. Watch this space!