I first knew Stephanie Donoma as a young musician, playing acoustic at the Monday night open mic hosted Downtown by Chris Sipos and Rachel Young in the mid-2000s. It wasn’t until I returned to Facebook a few years ago that I learned about her visual art and Arbitrary Creations.
Between those two time periods Stephanie has fronted the popular local band Donoma in shows across the country, traveled to Iceland, taken a stab at poke tattoos (sorry), and had her first ever art show at Fusion in Harborside Kenosha.
And here she is now, just in time for the gift-giving season, taking commissions for Pet Portraits.
This week Stephanie was gracious enough to do a quick email exchange of questions and answers.
TP: When did you start producing visual art?
SD: I’ve been making visual art for as long as I can remember! As a kid I was constantly drawing, in my spare time, as well as when I was supposed to be focusing on other things. I spent a lot of time in the art rooms at school. And a lot of nights hanging out with my sketchbook.
TP: How would you describe your artistic style?
SD: It’s funny to say but I’m not quite sure if I have a set style because I feel like my work is ever-shifting. I’m always interested in trying and learning new things, which is why I chose to name the business Arbitrary Creations.
Though I’ve fallen in love with the art of pyrography, which I only started doing a few years ago, I also do odd type paintings and drawings which I call ‘my monsters.’ I’m just diving into photography and digital art as well.
TP: Has life in Kenosha influenced your work? Does music have an influence?
SD: Absolutely! There is so much talent and inspiration here in the community both musically and visually. I feel they go hand in hand and everyone works together to help each other advance, often making music shows a place to buy from your local artists as well when possible.
TP: What would you say is the best part about the artistic community in Kenosha? How do you think the community could work together to improve?
SD: I find the best part about the art community here in kenosha is just that- It’s a community. Everyone wants to help each other, promote each other, and see one another succeed. It’s quite a beautiful thing to be a part of and I can’t think of a thing to change that.
The one thing I could say is a change of view in the perception of the general public that art and music is only made to be a hobby. I’ve personally experienced and know many fellow artists who’ve experienced this idea that art should be made at a low cost or free because it’s something we enjoy doing. When in reality a lot of hard work and time is spent building your craft, just like any job. Materials to make these pieces cost money. And though it may be work we love, it is still work.
There’s something very special to be said about surrounding yourself with handcrafted items and providing support to your local artists to help them continue to do that sustainably.
TP: Moving on to Pet Portraits, how did that come about? What was your motivation for creating those?
SD: When the holiday seasons arrive it’s always fun to come up with unique gift ideas. I think nearly every pet owner, including myself, can look through their photos and find that they’ve embarrassingly taken an overwhelming amount of pictures of their adorable friends. Or perhaps that’s just me.
I wanted to create a special way to take that photo and bring it to a different life on wood. A forever memory. And a unique way to display a beloved pet. Plus, I get to receive photos with cuteness overload and no one could say they wouldn’t love that.
TP: Tell some about your process in creating a Pet Portrait.
SD: It all starts with an image that I transfer onto unfinished wood. I then draw on added touches from flowers to things your pet may enjoy, like a bone or tennis ball and use my pyrography tool to permanently burn the design onto the wood. From there I get to use different mediums to add love and color. Every piece is coated in a clear protective seal.
TP: And finally, give all the details on your Pet Portraits. Sizes, Prices, Contact Info
SD: The pet portraits come on unfinished wood plaques in various shapes. They are roughly between 4-7”. I am doing $35 for one pet on a plaque. $45 for two pets on one plaque. And $60 for two single pets on separate plaques.