Stephen Wilson in his studio. Photography by Chris Edwards.
The art that Stephen Wilson creates in his studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, is shown in museums and art galleries all over the world. On any given day, he could be working on his Modularity series of smaller works or large-scale pieces, all of which utilize up-cycled packaging—such as materials from luxury fashion houses like Chanel and Gucci, or even vintage album covers—as a canvas for his works that incorporate embroidery mixed with collage, paint, and 3D printing. As a husband and father of two young children, his days also tend to involve dress-up, coloring, and playing with dolls. Here, Wilson takes us through 24 hours of meetings, studio time, and chaotic moments with the kids.
6:30 a.m.: I wake up at 6:30 every day without an alarm clock to get an early start. The early morning is usually the only time I have to myself. Coffee is followed by checking e-mails and preparing for appointments (which are mostly virtual at the moment) so I don’t fall behind.
7:30 a.m.: Now it’s time for the kids. My four-year-old, Wren, usually wanders into the kitchen in a daze while my wife gets our one-year-old, Otto, ready for the morning. Mornings with the kids are anything but quiet. On any given morning there is dress up, coloring, playing with dolls, and lots of eating and making messes. I cherish this time with the kids; I know they won’t be this age forever, and I enjoy the chaos of these moments.
“Most people think artists have a bohemian lifestyle with odd hours and midnight inspirational sessions. That may work for some artists, but I work better on a schedule.”
9:00 am.: I go to the studio every day to create my work, and leave at 5:00 p.m. I have a very structured schedule, which many people find surprising. Most people think artists have a bohemian lifestyle with odd hours and midnight inspirational sessions. That may work for some artists, but I work better on a schedule. On any given day I am working on about a dozen pieces at once, and I am currently working on several projects at the same time. I just released my biggest (but also the smallest) one yet, the “Petites,” on July 1. It complete sold out, which for an artist can be daunting and exciting all at the same time! The other series is about vintage vinyl—I am using vintage record sleeves as my canvas and embroidering on the actual record covers.
During the day, I usually meet with my gallerist, Irina Toshkova of Toshkova Art Advisory, to go over current projects. Lately these meetings have been happening via phone or video conference, but I hope to get back into the gallery to talk face-to-face soon.
12:30 p.m.: I have lunch in the studio. Most days I usually order in and catch up with my team (I have a studio manager, marketing manager, and production assistants)—pre-pandemic this is in-person, but right now it’s mostly over text. Then there is always more coffee to drink!
Wilson (left) with Scott Morgan (right) at Taylor, Richards, Conger. Photographed pre-pandemic by Chris Edwards.
3:00 p.m.: I put on my mask and check in with a couple of my favorite local sources for some wardrobe updates. I have been a customer of local clothiers Taylor, Richards, and Conger for about 15 years. They have been dressing me for every season’s occasion for a long time. The head menswear buyer, Scott Morgan, is a good friend of mine and never lets me leave the house without looking my best. Sally’s Optical Secrets has been my go-to since I started wearing glasses—I now purchase all of my eyeglasses as well as sunglasses there—and I’m due for some new eyewear.
4:00 p.m.: I head back to the studio to finish up a few pieces and prepare for the next day.
Wilson and his family at La Belle Helene. Photographed pre-pandemic by Chris Edwards.
6:00 p.m.: I truly enjoy meeting my family for dinner, especially when I get to take them to a restaurant to try different kinds of foods, which unfortunately has been put on hold for the time being. A current favorite is La Belle Helene, a French bistro in Uptown Charlotte, which I’m hoping will be able to reopen soon. My daughter loves the frites and fancy chandeliers (she says she “feels fancy” when she eats there). My son turns 1 this month so he is still easy to handle this time, but not for long. As parents we couldn’t ask for more. With social distancing in effect, we’ve been having dinners at home, and the kids have been exploring new dishes via takeout. Tonight we had small plates from Soul Gastrolounge, our favorite is the pork belly tacos.
8:00 p.m.: The kids are put to bed, and my wife, Aundrea, and I can enjoy a little quiet time with a bottle of wine and Netflix. We catch up on a few shows, talk about the kids, and turn in at 11. With two kids we need as much sleep as possible….
Stephen Wilson Studio is featured in The Scout Guide Charlotte.