Stephen Powers Studio Visit

Apr 13 2018

Words by Julia Marsh, images by Michael Enten.

Renowned artist and former street painter Stephen Powers graciously hosted a visit with the MFA Design class of 2019 at his studio, ESPO’s Art World. The space is covered in hundreds of his illustrations. Quips and comments on society, politics, and the future blanket the walls in bold hues of yellow, green, blue and red. Powers himself is dressed in colors which mimic his work; mustard yellow corduroy pants and a bold red polo.

He balances a small cup of paint in one hand as he paints the wall with the other. His back faces the 17 of us as he asks what we’re interested in and who our favorite artists are. The entire scenario feels abstract and sublime.

Powers, whose work is often full of macabre yet fantastical wit, spoke to us about his career and the art world with similar wisdom and humor. His greatest insights? I’ve narrowed them down for you:

  1. If you have ideas, you’re a very valuable person.

  2. Always be nice.

  3. Whatever you’re doing, do the hardest part first and the rest will be sweet.

  4. There are no typos in art.

  5. The best idea should always win. Usually I have them.

And lastly, when asked about how he feels about his work being copied by other artists (which happens frequently), Powers responded simply:

“The Beatles didn’t complain about people doing Beatles covers.”

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