We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Prosser and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Art connects with and impacts people in a way no other medium can! I love business as much as I love art, so as an artist and creative I wear several hats: freelance artist -S. Prosser Artist, Gallery owner-1117 Studios & Gallery, and I am Founder and CEO of art nonprofit Palette of Purpose Incorporated. My motivation is being able to see the impact I make in other’s lives through art, both as a business owner and as a nonprofit executive.
In my personal art business, as a freelance painter, I specialize in large canvas private commissions, murals, and hand painted commercial signage. When I am privately commissioned for a personal piece of artwork (usually for memento or gift), my client is trusting me with their heart and vision. I’m capturing something for someone to love; it is always uniquely impactful. Often when I present my clients with a completed piece, I can tell that the painting has touched them somewhere deeply and will be treasured. I have painted portraits to memorialize people, spiritual journeys, family memories, etc. Each experience has been deeply personal and rewarding.
When I paint murals and commercial signage, my artwork is for the public, and has a message. What I love about public art is as an artist it gives you the opportunity to impact your community by connecting with individuals on a mass scale. Murals can transform a neighborhood and gives a sense of pride for the people and surrounding businesses in that environment. People encounter murals as they walk or drive by and stop to enjoy the artwork or take pictures and selfies. It generates community buzz, entices outside investors, brings in tourists, and naturally pulls people into the art world.
As a new gallery owner who leases art studio spaces, I know that building a supportive community for artists to thrive in is important. With 1117 Studios and Gallery, my focus is on investing in artists and creating a place for them to flourish not only creatively, but professionally.
To further support artists and invest in our local community I founded Palette of Purpose Incorporated a 501c3 Arts/Cultural Arts nonprofit. I wanted to build a platform and pathway for artists to connect, share their talents, grow professionally, and make a local impact through art. We participate and host annual art events, community outreach programs, and create public art projects within our community.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Please tell us more about your art We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about:
Being someone that produces artwork traditionally, as well as commercially gives me a unique perspective. Painting Murals and commercial signage has a more technical science and math-based approach to art. You must be conscious of materials, strategic in how you plan out the concept, and precise on execution. I paint for longevity, quality, and to give my client’s the most value. Some of my favorite projects are commercial signage projects, I’ve been told my hand lettering “looks like a computer did it”. Which is a high praise in the world of lettering and hand painted signage.
Painting on canvas and studio work for me is much more organic. Most of my paintings reflect my love of bold color and contrast. I enjoy subject matters that inspire fascination: Space, human behavior and emotion, women, fantasy, technology, and pain. Many of my personal pieces involve detaching from society, consciousness, and spirituality. I’m primarily self-taught, although I had a wonderful teacher in high school Katy Presswood who helped further my interest in art. I lay my canvases on the floor to paint. My primary medium is acrylics and ink, any type of condition brush, and I paint “dirty”. If you peer into my studio you would generally see me crouched on the ground, hovering over my work, in Pollock-esque fashion.
If I’m on site for a mural, I’m usually perched atop scaffolding or operating a boom lift. I enjoy painting large and tackling exterior projects in West Texas weather is always an adventure! Overall, I have a contemporary style of my own, but I can be fluid with commission requests.
I’m most proud of and excited about opening 1117 Studios and Gallery! My family and I are renovating a 7,000sq ft. industrial warehouse building in the heart of downtown Abilene into artist studio rental spaces and a gallery. I have needed a larger space for my personal art business for quite a while now and have carried the dream of owning a gallery with working studio spaces over the years. 1117 Studios & Gallery will provide a special place for artists to grow and nurture their work. We are close to opening our doors and are building relationships and laying paths for mentorship and professional impact for our artist residents. I am extremely excited for our creative futures!
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not how did you overcome the challenges?:
My son has autism. When he was diagnosed, I started volunteering at local ASD organizations to find resources for our family, and then in turn ultimately stayed to help others. In the special needs world, there is a phrase called “it takes a village for one child”. And I think it’s the same for business, whether you are a large company or a solo entrepreneur. It’s about the relationships you build and the people that lift you up and support you and your business along the way. My accomplishments come from the mentorship of others, and the benefits of building long lasting business relationships.
Volunteering and working in the nonprofit field gave me the motivation and confidence to do more in my own life, and in the lives of others. Accomplishing goals with mission driven people while making a difference in my community helped me overcome some of my own self-doubts and fear. It gave me the experience and knowledge to seriously pursue my own art career, as well as the background and motivation to start Palette of Purpose Inc.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way:
My Biggest lesson is: Don’t expect your community to feel like home if you are not engaged in it. Get connected and grow where you are planted. There are opportunities everywhere! I’ve met so many beautiful, interesting, and supportive people throughout the growth of my career. I would not be where I am today if I had just hidden out in my house, my studio, or from behind a screen. As an artist and a business owner I had to overcome fear of rejection, judgement, risk, and a multitude of other things to be able to be present with people, truly connect, build relationships, and make a place for myself in my own community. It has been life changing and priceless.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?:
I’m just happy to be a part of those that call themselves artists and get to do what I love.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Abilene has so much to offer for any visitor to explore and enjoy. I am partial to our downtown because that is where I work and play. For anyone visiting in the area I would want to give them a tour of my Gallery, 1117 Studios & Gallery, to experience the exhibits and meet our wonderful artists. Also, tour the murals painted by myself and other Palette of Purpose Inc. Artists. Then we would visit the other surrounding galleries like the Center for Contemporary Arts which I am an artist member, Legacy Studios, and The Grace Museum of Art.
My friend Trevor Allen “aka Gus Mc Dusty the cowboy” does an incredible Downtown Walking Tour in which patrons are taken to local sites, shops, eateries, and businesses to sample and learn more about what the area has to offer. It’s a fun way to get to know and experience the layout of downtown. We would grab a cup of joe at my favorite coffee spot, Monks. Get Dinner at Cypress St. or the Local. If they have kids they are in for a treat, Abilene is the Storybook Capital of America, we have many wonderful events, a sculpture garden, and museums like the Nation Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature for families to enjoy.
Next, we would tour the SODA District, and meet up with Tim and Pamela Smith, entrepreneurs and real estate investors who have built and invested heavily in this still growing entertainment district. It’s a hotspot for nightlife and live music. We’d meet up for a cup at Moose Mountain Coffee. Grab a burger at Glorias Grill, go for a cocktail or brew at KAO Lounge, Sockdolager Brewing Co., or take a short stroll on over to The Mill winery. We could end the evening throwing axes at Abilene Axe Company.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
God, family, and friends first always! I’m blessed to have parents and a husband who are extremely supportive of my career. My friends are encouraging and sincerely happy for me. I also like to surround myself with other life-long learners, encouragers, creatives, and doers…so, special shout outs go to Tim & Pamela Smith and John Thomas for setting the example in entrepreneurship for me. D Grant Smith(author & life coach) in growth and relationship. Steve Templeton (Photographer), Russell Ellison (Fine Artist), Pedro Rivera (Fine Artist) as artist friends and incredible creative mentors.
Other: Visit 1117 Studios and Gallery at: www.1117Studios.com or at www.facebook.com/1117Studios Visit Palette of Purpose Incorporated at: www.facebook.com/paletteofpurposeinc or www.paletteofpurposeinc.org
Steve Templeton – Beauty Within, The Gift, We Need to Talk, Buffalo