Featured Artist: Steven Russell Black

This month we caught up with pencil-pusher extraordinaire Steven Russell Black. Steven has a large and committed and organic following online and manages to create work for his fans in every spare moment. He is also one of our top sellers here at Every Day Original. We wanted to know how he managed to build his fan base, how he produces so regularly, and how he turns his fans into collectors.

Follow his instagram to see his daily process posts, and if you like what you see you can probably find it on his Etsy shop.


Artist Interview Steven Russell Black



1. I’ve been a fan of your work for a while now, ever since I found you on instagram. Where do you find the most traction for your work, online or off? How do you most effectively boost your signal?

Online for sure. Instagram is my is my personal favorite, but its more difficult to drive traffic to a purchase as you can’t post links there.



2. You have a pretty committed following online and sell well both on EDO and eBay. That must feel really good! Do you have a strategy when you post online? How do you convert followers to buyers?

I’m thankful and humbled to have the support of a such a big following for sure.
My posting strategy is process process process, and the 3 busiest social media times of the day to post. Morning, noon, and night. In the case of a drawing I work pretty fast so I’ll post the start in the morning. Maybe just a head or start to a figure. Which is pretty science fact based, then at noonish I post the drawing almost finished revealing its fiction aspect, completing the science fiction and horror I like to inject into the work .Then at 5 or later I’ll post the final and a link to where it’s available for purchase.



3. With all of that said, I know a lot of people have this idea that artists sit at home in their underwear and work whenever they feel like it. Myth or reality?

Myth. I work whenever I have the time. When I’m drawing I can work anywhere. I draw on the bus, in line at the DMV, anytime I’m waiting for anything. I carry pencils, paper, and a sharpener everywhere I go. If I’m at home I draw on the couch while listening to movies. I don’t own a drawing board. I draw on a piece of foam core. It’s super light and I can carry it from room to room or out and about.



4. Does art pay your bills? If not, what does and how do you manage that with all the art you produce every day?

It pays most. I have a 40 hour a week day job at a printer, which is why I’m always looking to squeeze in a bit of drawing time wherever and whenever I can. The art is right at the edge of paying everything. Right now I’m just nervous to take the leap without a safety net.



5. Did you study art, where?

I had a high school art teacher who was incredible and giving to me. He let me do live figure model drawing as a freshman, and we went on several art trips to Chicago, NYC, and Washington D. C. I had a ton of material knowledge before going to college. I then went to The Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio where I studied with C.F. Payne and John Jude Palencar. I’ve been lucky to have amazing instructors.



6. You mentioned to me that you used to be socially awkward. Do you think that cost you any opportunities? What has changed?

Yeah it definitely does before the days of social media and to a lesser degree now. There are two jobs of the artist, do good work and get that work seen. And if you aren’t comfortable networking and being social, the people who are will get called first, because often people refer their friends for work, or shows, or introductions to the right people happen just while being out in the community.


7. You seem to be well connected in the fantasy art world. Do you attend conventions? Which ones? How do you choose where to be and when?

I’ve never attended conventions. That is changing this year as Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire offered me a table at Illuxcon. Really honored and excited to do more shows.



8. Do you have any other loves other than art? Tell us about that.

I love biking and I’m lucky I live in such a great place to bike as Marin. So any time not making art is spent on the bike or taking tons of photos wherever I go as possible reference material. Everything I do feeds the art obsession though really. It consumes most of my thoughts in the day. It would be nice to have a real separate hobby. Not enough time in the day.



9. In our conversations you have said that your work is about “beautiful decay” and that “If I can get you to feel what I feel for the subject I’m not alone.” Do you feel alone? How so? Do you think your intended emotion reaches your buyers and affects them in any way?

I am alone most of the time. Art is a solitary pursuit and you are just alone for hours on end working on things.I think my intended emotions connect with the viewer for sure. Not always. But its always the goal to get a rise out of the viewer to lead them to where you want them to think or go or feel. You know while your making the piece though, you’ll be half way in and you can feel it swell and its pure joy all the way through to the finish on a good one that’s working. Then usually those seem to be the pieces the audience reacts to the most.



10. Tell us about your favorite pieces of art that you own and how you found them.

I have two Palencar pieces John gave me for helping him move and I traded drawings with Troy Nixey whom I love his work. He’s the reason I’m obsessed with fish and octopi and ocean life in general. He started following me on Facebook and asked if we could trade and I was honored and more excited than I tried to let on. I don’t think he knows how much of an impact his comics had on me. Unless he reads this.



11. Do you collect art? How do you decide what is “worth” buying?
The only art I own is art I’ve been given or traded pieces an artist I like. But what makes art worth buying for me would be a connection to the subject matter or the artist, and then the highest attention to craftsmanship and the art object itself being a thing of beauty. I think the way most of us live in smaller spaces. Its more fun to collect a larger number of smaller pieces rather than one or two really large pieces.



12. In many ways, collectors are investors. They are not just purchasing art they like but they are literally helping fund an artist’s career. At an art show recently I overheard someone say “I really love the piece, but I don’t know anything about the artist.” What do you feel about this? What would you want a collector to know about you to make them feel like they’re investing well?

My main interest in collecting a given artists work would first be a connection to the piece and wanting to know more about the body of work and their goals and aims and to know that the dialogue will continue, do they plan on making work for a long time to come. I am in this for the long haul, it’s all I ever wanted to do. I’m completely in love with making images and I’m always looking for ways to be better, to make a better product and to entertain my audience along the way.



13. We’ve talked a lot about making a living as an artist. Does the financial aspect of selling art affect your work? How?
Sure, it defines the playing field you are able to work in to some extent. If giant pieces aren’t selling you make smaller work. And you make work that is appealing at market, but I use that to define the playing field, never the content. I’ll also work larger or smaller or float between different media to fit a market. That feels like staying true to the vision.



14. If you could be besties with any artist living or dead who would it be and why?

I’ve been really lucky to get to meet some of my heroes and spend time with them. Mike Mignola and I got to meet finally at a show here in the bay area. I love that guy. So that would be the living.

As for the dead, We’re just dreaming so I’ll shoot big. I’d love to have known and partied with J.C. Leyendecker and Charles Beach. I’d love to have a drink and then fight with Jackson Pollock. Afterwards take Lee Krasner away from him to run my studio. Make collaborative pieces with H.R.Giger and Moebius. Hold Picaso while Dali punches him in the face and we both luagh and laugh. I’d love to adore women with Klimt while Egon Schiele looks on from the corner of the room and we tell him he sucks. I’d love to steal Frida from Diego. Told you I was dreaming big. I’d treat her right. And I would adore spending any amount of time with Durer.


15. Any final thoughts?
Thank you so much Marc and Lauren for creating EDO and giving my work a really great place to live online.

If you love an artists work, take a minute to tell them so and support them in whatever way you can. Buy a print or piece. Start with all the amazing work on everydayoriginal.com It really is the perfect place to start a collection and begin a dialogue with an artist you love.



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