Artist Steffi Lynn On Creative Process + Why She Created an Interactive Museum Inspired By Childhood Memories
You know those people you follow on the Internet who manage to cheer you up, just by the colors, shapes, words, and design they share? Steffi Lynn Tsai is definitely one of those people, and she is taking the illustration and design world by storm with her playful, positive style, and newly launched Museum of Memories.
Brit + Co: First, the basics. Where are you from? What did you study in college? Tell us all about your beginnings.
Steffi Lynn Tsai: Hi! I am Steffi Lynn and I am from Austin, Texas! I studied at Pratt Institute and still reside here in Brooklyn. I originally applied to study photography but switched my major twice and finally stuck with illustration! I started freelancing and making products when I was still in college and just continued to do so after graduation.
B+C: Did you always know that you wanted to be a professional artist?
SLT: I definitely knew I always wanted to be a creator but I was interested in so many different types of art and creating, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be. Then I soon realized that I didn’t have to just be a photographer, or just be an illustrator — that I could be a creator of all kinds.
B+C: What inspires you? Why do you love to make things?
SLT: I think the challenge of creating something from an idea on a piece of paper is what really encourages me to make things. I love how I can draw a picture of a cactus and then I can make it into a pin, or maybe a pillow, or even a giant mirror. I look seeing ideas blossom into useful objects in everyday life, or even just a fun accessory.
I am really inspired by nature and positivity! I like to turn something as simple as a leaf and turn it into a colorful, bright, polka dotted leaf that can even relay a motivating message.
B+C: Your visual style has become instantly recognizable on the ‘gram (@haveanicedayy_). How did you hone in on your style?
SLT: I think people tend to get stuck on finding their unique style and that they have to go searching for it. And when they find it, they have to keep it forever. Which, I think, can restrain the artist from exploring and growing. I think people naturally will find their style just by creating over and over again and they will find things that they are drawn to without even realizing it. For me, I love lettering and drawing flowers and nature so they just became really consistent themes in my work.
B+C: Spreading positivity and offering support is obviously important to you and your work. Tell us more about this.
SLT: Yes! Because I am always promoting happiness, positivity, and encouragement in all my work, people think that I am naturally like this. Which, is not the case! At all! I find myself being stuck a lot, I over stress, and I can be negative and have bad days. I create work to remind myself to move forward and to help others too. When we are in this negative state of mind, it is hard to look into the future and look at all the great things we can accomplish. But we have to remember everything is temporary and when we are stuck in that rut, we just gotta push through! I just want to make people smile and motivate them to keep going.
B+C: Your new project Museum of Memories looks pretty darn fantastic from what I can on the Internet. Tell us what inspired this project and what you hope to achieve with it.
Everything in Museum of Memories is hand painted by me and I made sure that every corner has something to look at. I can’t wait for people to come through and take photos with their friends, loved ones and family and make some new memories. Come check it out in Dallas!
Favorite Quote: Work smarter not harder!
Trivia About You: I fantasize about being a neurosurgeon.
Go-to Karaoke Song: “That Don’t Impress Me Much” - Shania Twain
Favorite Art Tool: Size 30 Blick Paint Brush
Late Night Snack: Literally anything I can get my hands on, but I love Oreos.
B+C: What made you realize you could take the leap and go full-time freelance?
SLT: I actually interned and freelanced in house for a few companies before going all out freelance/small business owner. I quickly realized that I loved my freedom too much to work a traditional job. It was definitely scary at first, however, I valued my time to create what I wanted for myself so much, that I knew no matter what I will do whatever it takes for it to work. I love the hustle! I love the fast pace of it all!
B+C: When you’re in a rut or starting a new project, where do you start? What is your creative process like and where do you turn for inspiration?
SLT: I always go back to “what do I like to draw” or “what will make me feel good” and go from there. Sometimes when starting a new project that I am inexperienced in, I have a hard time creating something that I feel uncomfortable about. And most of the time that’s because I am thinking WAY too hard about it. If we’re not liking what we are creating, the outcome is never going to be satisfying!
B+C: What artists and designers do you turn to most often for inspiration?
SLT: KB illustration, Timothy Goodman, Meg Lewis, Lauren Hom, Kathryn Zaremba, and so many more — every artist inspires me because everyone's brains work differently and we can all learn from each other.
B+C: Working as a solo artist can definitely be isolating. What does your support system look like?
SLT: Ah, yes! Definitely can be isolating and I have hard days sometimes being all alone. I would like to join communities and groups, however, I truly haven’t been able to find the time. I have several graphic designer friends that give me feedback from a designer’s point of view and that is really helpful. Instagram also helped me connect with so many other artists that I can now call them friends and we text about ideas often.
B+C: When you’re feeling creative burnout, how do you reset?
SLT: Switch. It. Up! I think we need to constantly try new things and new ways of creating because it is so easy to get comfortable doing our normal routine. If I am having an off two weeks and can’t seem to like anything I letter, I will try collaging or go out and shoot! When you switch up what you’re used to doing, you can find SO many inspirations and new or forgotten ways of thinking.
B+C: What advice do you have for emerging artists and designers who are finding their voice / just starting out?
SLT: Don’t be scared to leap. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t hesitate to reach out first!
B+C: In five years, where do you see yourself?
SLT: Honestly, hopefully still doing what I am doing now. Murals, products, and installations!
Here's where to stay up-to-date on all things Steffi Lynn:
Author: Anjelika Temple (Photos courtesy of Steffi Lynn Tsai)