Long before I became a Guest Designer for Artistic Outpost, I was a huge fan of their stamps. I actually had Bluebird, Happiness, Hero, Home, Mini Masterpiece, Route 66, Serenity, and Snowy Woods before I signed on. I was that dedicated a customer.
I love the fantastic, clear impressions I get from these quality rubber stamps. I started to notice Artistic Outpost's images when I began to see cards in magazines and online using their Serenity plate. It was my first acquisition. From that point on, I was hooked.
I have always been into vintage images and Artistic Outpost has some great vintage stamps. I love that they include element stamps with each plate! It makes it so easy to make a card that has a cohesive look and design.
I applied to be on their design team for a few of reasons. One was my obvious love of the images, making it easy for me to create new projects all the time. The second reason was that there are always new releases just around the corner. The final reason is that there is a distinct style to their stamps which makes it easy to mix and match them.
For this Manufacturer's Spotlight, I was honored to be able to interview Robyn Phelan Sharp, one of the owners of Artistic Outpost, and a stamper since 2001!
Q: Robyn, what spurred you to create your own stamp designs and seek out your own images?
A: I've always had an entrepreneurial streak. I had a lemonade stand as a kid. I started working in the summers when I was only 13, so I have this strong work ethic instilled in me by my family. I'm also a creative person growing up in a musical family, and I studied theatre in college. After I realized I would never win an Oscar, I went back to school, got my MBA, and went to work in corporate America. I love my career, but I was missing something that was "mine". So one day one of my friends and colleagues and I were at a "crop", and I was like "let's start a stamp company". She said, "I'm in". That was in 2005. Two years later, we officially opened for business.
Q:Vintage images play a large role in many Artistic Outpost plates. What draws you to this style of image?
A: I come from a very small close-knit family. My grandmother died when I was young, and my great grandparents house burned in the 80's taking with the fire many of the historical pieces of our family history. There are still photos out there, but not that many, and the ones we have we cherish. I also have always found attachments to small things, such as an old Coca-Cola bottle opener of my Grandaddy's, that to others might not seem like a valuable antique, but because they belonged to someone special to me, they are priceless.
So in a nutshell, vintage images remind me of my grandparents, and I find comfort in things that might have visually appealed to them.
A: Maybe it's the former actor in me, but I love the artistry combined with the shabbiness that you get from old vaudeville, fortune teller, and circus ephemera and advertisements. I love to daydream about the everyday lives of people that ran away and joined the circus. In my mind these people are so layered. They have to be so hopeful, yet tragic...dramatic, yet fun...artsy and creepy...light and dark...all at the same time. To me, clowns and performers are really multi-dimensional and that is inspirational from an artistic point of view.
Q: I always feel that there is a story behind each Artistic Outpost image. Are there any images that you really feel connected to or which have a special meaning for you?
A: I have a connection with each of the plates, because I have put a little of my own story in most of them. For example, the Hero collection honors my grandfather who was a medic in the Marines on Iwo Jima. He is the young soldier on the main image of the stamp collection. My other grandfather was a traveling mandolin player in the 30's, and that is him featured on the "Singing Cowboy" plate. My mom is the littler girl getting her hair permed in "Hair is Important". But besides using favorite family photos as inspiration, I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. To me "Home" is about growing up in the country. "Keeper" is about enjoying the innocent days of summer. I draw from nostalgia and let the stamp designs come from that.
Q: One thing I love about Artistic Outpost plates is that they always include lots of elements to work with as well as focal images. What criteria do you use to choose collage elements and backgrounds?
A: I always consider the time period of the other elements. I include things that the other "players" in the plate would relate to or have around them. Sometimes, it's just how much size do I have left on the plate. I also bounce ideas off of several other artists, and they may ask for something specific, like the clown horn on the newest plate. I hadn't thought of that. One of our DT members did.
Q: What is your favorite part of being in the rubber stamping community?
A: Seeing what our customers and designers do with our images. I'm blown away. People create things beyond my imagination, and I'm very humbled by it all.
What else can I say? I think Robyn said it all! These stamps are more than great images - they are designs created straight from the heart!
Thank you so much, Robyn, for sharing your thoughts and creative insights with us!
Look for projects using Artistic Outpost images all month long on Gingersnap Creations!