AUST design department newsletter
Fall Spring 04 05
Who is Stephanie Borg?
I’m a self-taught artist and graphic designer, born in Malta in 1971, currently living in Oman. Since 1998, I have lived in different countries (The Bahamas, Florida, Oman and Italy), which has contributed somehow towards enriching my love for form and colour, and has also given me a sense of boldness and self-esteem. My life revolves around creativity, both in art and graphic design. If I’m not painting, then I’m graphic designing, or sketching, or flipping through decor magazines or reading about the great masters.
I enjoy learning and observing.
When did you realize that you have an artistic talent and how did you develop it?
It is not something that happens to you one fine morning. I do believe that having an artistic flair is an innate quality and if it’s strong enough, it will come out eventually and have others recognise the talent in you. As a child I used to enjoy drawing like most children do, but somehow my capabilities used to stand out. So I used to be involved in any creative school initiatives, like posters, classroom projects and even designing cards. My art classes at school offered limited training but I used to take them very seriously. However I never got much encouragement from home so I never really believed in myself. In fact I went on into post-secondary school without ever making the time to pick up a brush.
Did you participate in any particular events?
Around ten years ago I was asked to join a team of eleven other designers to produce an illustration for a calendar, the proceeds of which were for charity. I was invited in 1999 to give a talk to the graduating students of graphic design at the Florida Atlantic University, USA. In 2002 I had some of my paintings displayed in a joint exhibition in Oman and in February of last year (2004), I had my first solo exhibition in Malta.
How would you describe your artwork in terms of type and style?
I don’t like labeling my artwork with any specific term but I like to describe it as a vibrant exploration of colour and linear patterns. Some of the pieces can verge on the abstract while others are more stylised. However I prefer letting the viewers come to their own conclusions when they see my art. Describing my own artwork in words is somewhat superfluous to me as I would have already expressed myself by executing the piece.
Give us a broad idea about the work you’ve done so far.
I started painting on a regular basis when I first moved to Oman in 2001. My initial work took a vegetative or floral theme and looking back I can see that I had a strong and determined desire to just immerse myself in my art and grow, mature and bloom. It was a time when I had finally found the luxury to simply dedicate myself and my energy to something which I loved and had neglected for a long time. Being in Oman at that time also helped my inspiration: the myriad of colours and patterns of the traditional Omani female attire was just fascinating, especially to my Western eye.
I was definitely inspired to produce my own patterns and designs, and try and capture the mismatch of textiles that somehow seem to work so well together. When I moved to Venice, I was captured in a different way. Venice is so sensual and like all artists who visit it, I couldn’t but express my emotions through my art. I am particularly sensitiive to colour, in fact I usually know what colour I want to use in my next painting even before having a clear image of what the painting is going to look like. Whatever the piece, my work is strongly related to my experiences, both geographically but especially emotionally.
What differentiates your work from that of other artists?
I think my professional practice as graphic designer is very evident in my artwork through the use of line and handling of colour. My pieces reflect a controlled hand and the linear movement has a specific direction and purpose. People often comment on the bold choice of my colours even in pieces that at first seem to be monochromatic.
As an Omani resident, do you feel that the Omani people appreciate art and relate to it? Is art well perceived and admired in their culture?
Art in Oman is nowadays getting more recognition and is being more appreciated. The Omanis have a rich tradition in crafts, so people do appreciate skill and creativity. More and more exhibitions are being organised so the general public is being exposed to different kinds of styles and media. However, I do feel that in general, it is mostly the traditional subjects which are mostly popular and people are still not comfortable with art that is about colour rather than content.
What are some of the obstacles that you face when it comes to your artwork?
The major obstacle is my own limitations within my own capabilities. I’m always very nervous whenever I start a new painting and I can never quite relax until I’m nearly finished, a process which can take more than just a few days! But this feeling of uncertainty also gives me a sense of thrill – the not knowing what the finished piece will look like is in itself an experience in self-discovery.
Are you working on any particular projects at the moment?
Nothing in particular at the moment. I’m just painting according to my own muse and always hope to attain something with my next painting. I am not particularly fond of taking commissions as I feel that if I had to paint according to what would please others rather than what would please me, I would kill the artistic spirit and become commercial. I do hope to have enough material by the end of the year to be able to hold another solo exhibition, possibly in Oman.
What are your ambitions for the future? What do you hope you would be able to accomplish?
I just hope that I will continue to be inspired and challenged to paint. Painting keeps me alive and I hope that the energy put into each piece is transmitted to the viewer so that they too can relate to it. I do hope to have the opportunity to exhibit my work in various parts of the world because it will be a great experience to see how people from different cultures perceive my art. Of course, I also wish to get the respect from the art world as that would be a great honor.
Which is your favourtie Stephanie Borg piece of work? Why?
I don’t really have a favourite piece! Each piece has been the result of a different set of emotions and/or experience that have triggered it off in the first place. When I look at my past work, I can still remember my state of being at the time of producing the piece. I look at my paintings as a colourful journey and the journey was sometimes smooth and sometimes rocky, but still a journey!
Throughout your journey, which artist(s) has been your main inspiration?
Many artists inspire me, ranging from Caravaggio, to Klimt and de Lempicka. However I am always open to any kind of style in art, design, dècor, textiles, etc. People in different cultures and in different eras express themselves in different ways and I have always found this very enriching and inspiring. I have also found nature to be a great source of inspiration, both in form and colour.
Stephanie Borg was interviewed by the design departments of AUST and will be among us for a workshop and an exhibition of her masterpieces in the Fall of 05-06.