We're back with another artist interview for The heART Series, and there aren't enough #hearteyes in the world for this one!
I am so happy to have Brittany on the blog today, and you'll understand why, I'm sure! If you have any catching up to do, you can CLICK HERE to do just that. Otherwise, let's get to it!
BRITTANY STOESS, ADVENTURE AND THE WILD
Hi! My name is Brittany Stoess. I’m a hand-lettering artist and the creator of Adventure and the Wild, an online shop featuring outdoor-inspired designs with a focus on cultivating adventure in every aspect of life. When I’m not creating things, you can find me reading a good book, hanging out with my dog, or hiking and exploring with my husband around my hometown of Chattanooga, TN!
the life in between: When did you first learn to (or realize that you could!) dance, paint, sew, write, style, photograph, etc. What is your heART story?
Brittany: I’ve been creating in some way or another ever since I can remember, but words were always my first love. I was constantly scribbling down quotes and verses, and remember telling my dad as a kid that my favorite kind of art to make was “art with words.” (Also, my signature in preschool was with bubble letters, so I guess you could say I’ve been “lettering” since I was 4.) I really started focusing on improving my lettering and calligraphy skills near the end of 2014, and well, here we are!
tlib: While you're immersed in a project or a piece, what are some things going through your mind? Do you pray? Do you praise?
Brittany: Lately, I’ve been focused on making pieces that are thought-provoking, with deeper meaning than a lot of the mantras floating around the internet these days. Usually, they’re based on things that God is teaching me, and creating is a big part of how I process those lessons. When I’m creating, I get really immersed in the message that I’m trying to communicate, and by lettering the words over and over, it keeps it in my heart and mind for much longer. It keeps me focused and grounded.
tlib: Tell us about your creative process. What inspires you to get started? Can you turn your creativity on and off?
Brittany: It definitely depends on the day! Some days, I can’t NOT create; I am super inspired by everything around me and have to get it out! Other days (most days?) aren’t quite so simple. I have to push myself a lot harder to just get started. I’m inspired a lot by the outdoors, things I’m reading, and the little things in life. My mind is constantly making connections, and I’ll start scribbling them down until a word or phrase jumps out at me. I’ll play with it for a bit, lettering it in different ways until I’m happy with it. Nothing is ever perfect, but I’m learning to embrace the “good enough."
tlib: Do you prefer to share your work or do you like to keep it just between yourself and God? Why?
Brittany: I share a good bit of my work. That was very hard for me in the beginning, but I believe that God gave me my abilities for a purpose, to encourage others, even when it feels super vulnerable and scary. However, there are times when I need to work through my thoughts and emotions through art without worrying about making it pretty or what anyone else thinks. I have a lot of very ugly, messy pieces that never see the light of day, but that wasn’t their purpose to begin with.
tlib: If you share your work, how do you promote your art in a way that glorifies God?
Brittany: I share a lot of stuff via Instagram, and there’s always that temptation to post shallow-but-popular mantras to get lots of likes and followers (and I am definitely not immune). It’s a fine line to walk, but I find that when I really believe in the message that I’m sharing, promoting it comes much more naturally. When you know that someone needs to hear what you’re saying, it feels selfish not to share and “promote” it.
tlib: How do you take compliments? How do you stay humble without denying your unique skill?
Brittany: That’s a hard one. I always see the flaws in my work, and usually have to fight the tendency to point them out when I’m sharing it with others (because let’s be real, that usually comes across as fishing for compliments, or worse, makes others feel more insecure about their own work). I’m learning to just say, “Thank you!” and leave it at that.
tlib: Do you believe that God can be glorified through secular art? How can secular work still point to Jesus?
Brittany: Absolutely. There’s a Wendell Berry quote that says, "There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places,” and I love that. Honestly, God speaks to me through art (be it writing, music, visual, whatever) that isn’t explicitly faith-based just as much, if not more, than explicitly Christian art. A lot of times, I find that Christian art tries to give me the answers, while secular art tends to remain open-ended — it asks more questions and makes me think. (Obviously, this isn’t always true. There is some fantastic Christian art out there that is deep and meaningful and has impacted me deeply.)
tlib: What is a dream or vision you have in regards to how your work may impact hearts and souls for Christ?
Brittany: I deeply, deeply believe in honesty, authenticity, and hope. That’s the point of art, I think, no matter what kind it is. My goal is to create things that people genuinely connect with, that makes them think and draws them closer to God. I don’t want to paint an overly simplistic, easy picture of what it means to follow Him, but I do want to always maintain a message of hope while still being honest and vulnerable. There’s enough darkness in the world; I want to remind people that light still exists.
tlib: Lastly, for fun, who (living or dead, and besides God) are you most inspired by when it comes to your art?
Brittany: Oh, that’s almost impossible to answer. I am so inspired by a wide variety of people that I cannot pick just one! Lately, some notable ones have been Alexandra Nelson, Jedidiah Jenkins, Heather Day, Elise and Scott Grice (Hey, Sweet Pea), and Sarah Dubbeldam (editor of Darling Magazine).
Thank you, Brittany, for sharing your heart with us today. You are so incredibly talented, and are such an inspiration (and we share similar processes and ways of thinking!).
READERS: Don't leave without leaving Brittany some love in the comments! Which example of her work ⤴︎ is your favorite, and which of her answers resonated most with you?