There’s fun, but it doesn’t get more fun than Stephanie Unger. The London artist and illustrator has brought her vibrant and vivacious look to brands like JumpFromPaper and Camden Town Brewery. Pretty good going for someone who’s been freelancing for as long as Trump was in office.
“Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed pushing my own boundaries of where I could see my work, and as a result, I have created art for murals, clothing, homeware, posters, stickers and more,” Stephanie tells us. “Right now, I honestly just love creating work that I find visually striking and centres around my characters. I combine these with the feelings that I’m going through at that moment in time.”
Stephanie’s inspirations are also dependent on the moment, “ever-evolving” as she puts it.
“Currently I’ve been really delving deep into my adolescence, which was around the late ’90s and early ’00s, looking at old toys, cartoons, video games, music, fashion. Basically everything from that era of my life; I love the feeling of when you find something that is so familiar to you that it awakens a deep slumbering memory and yanks it into the forefront of your brain.”
All these retro knick-knacks and mementoes pull a colourful style from Stephanie’s grey matter, one which she says emanates a kind of “static energy.”
“I feel like my characters and visuals are quite static in their graphic form, yet possess a sense of energy through my use of shape and colour,” she explains. “To achieve this look, I most often always start with pen to paper. I doodle away in my sketchbook until there is something I feel is worth developing. I then focus on this design by drawing it out neatly and adjusting areas I feel need work. Depending on the project or design I may finish it off with paint or scan the design onto my computer to finish it off digitally.”
Recent projects are the ones Stephanie is most proud of, naming one branding work she completed last year as being closest to her heart.
“Creating the design for the British Red Cross ‘I Have The Power’ Campaign was such fun, and I really loved seeing that design printed beautifully on a range of products. 2020 was tough for everyone and during a year of high stress and anxiety it was really nice to be able to give back and put my energy towards something good.”
Speaking of stress, Stephanie wants to improve her work-life balance in 2021, a problem most creatives are probably familiar with.
“I think I have had quite an unhealthy balance since forever and it has been awful for my mental and physical health. I want to start setting digital boundaries with Instagram and emails to give me time to take care of myself. I would also like to rethink how I choose to implement myself in my work. I feel like I have always filtered hugely important parts of my life out of my work in order to cater to a more general audience. With everything I’ve learned in the past year I’ve realised it’s important to avoid doing this when and where I can.”
Getting her through the ups and downs is Animal Crossing, which she checks every morning. Stephanie also put up an exhibition of her work in the game, much to the delight of her friends and fans.
“It was such a great experience and felt like it came out of nowhere! I couldn’t believe the turnout. I actually played Animal Crossing too much last year and killed it for myself after my exhibition, so I had to stop playing it for a few months.”
“I came back to it around September and loved the build-up to Christmas, collecting the Halloween, Winter and Toy day items. It was a really nice way to appreciate the seasons in a way we can’t in real life at the moment. Such a soothing game, it really helps my little brain.”
Stephanie Unger’s brain is all over her Instagram for you to follow.