Stephanie Romano is a junior at Montclair State University majoring in visual arts. Her work can be seen on her Instagram page @theromanokid_. Romano spoke with The Montclarion staff writer Zoe Nolz to talk more about her artwork.
Q: How did you first get into art?
A: I got into it primarily because I have an older brother who used to do a lot of art, and as a younger sibling, I kind of did art because of that. Then in high school I figured that I was kind of good at it, and in high school you always have that “thing” that is yours, whether it be that you’re the “cool kid” or whatever it is. I didn’t really have that one quality that identifies you. So because I was good at it, I just went with it and here I am.
Q: How would you describe your specific style of art/specialty?
A: I don’t really have a specific type of art that I go for. I’m personally a strong believer that artists evolve with time, so I can be painting faces right now and in 10 years, it may be completely different. You see that in fashion, you see that in film and everywhere and everything you do, so I don’t really like sticking to one thing either. But currently, I’m playing around with installations, with paintings and with textiles for sculptures that I’m doing, so I’m just really experimenting right now.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
A: The freedom. No one can tell you “this is wrong,” unless it’s morally or politically wrong. Besides that, if you’re going to go into any creative endeavor, as long as you stick to that vision, you’re on a good path. The freedom you get with being an artist is one where you don’t feel restricted. When you’re an artist, you build your own path.
Q: How have your experiences at Montclair State University helped you grow or improve as an artist?
A: Being at Montclair [State] has definitely taught me to take any opportunity that is given to me and use it. People go into school thinking that the school is going to provide you with every single thing that you need and sometimes they don’t; so you have to go out of your way to get those opportunities for yourself.
For example, the art department used to have a gallery for visual arts students on the second floor, exclusively for undergrad students. They then took it out and gave it to an advisor who used it as an office. But I remembered that one of the goals I had was to have a little installation at Montclair State, and because they took away that resource away, that so many artists wanted to use, I had to push myself to do something about it. So I just went to the department and I asked if I could use some space or some display areas. Sometimes, you have to make with what you’ve got. You have to be very resourceful, and that’s definitely something that Montclair State has taught me.
Q: What usually inspires you to get artistic ideas? Where do you usually look for inspiration?
A: I’m usually on the train, driving or walking. Other times, I’m usually reading about other artists and when I see their work, I’m like “oh actually, I can take this idea and tweak it!” There’s this quote that says “You either master your influences or your influences will master you,” so ever since I’ve heard that quote I really try to study the artists that I look up to. It’s usually from there that I get an idea to do a piece that’s been influenced from its original piece. I take an interesting concept that they have and I feed off of that. It’s either I make it grow or create something completely different, but I still remain inspired by certain elements of their work.
Q: Are you currently working on any projects or do you have anything planned? Can you tell us about it?
A: Yes, I’m actually currently working on my second installation. It will be here in Finley Hall in Montclair [State] in February and it will be the complete gallery. It won’t be a tiny display, but the whole thing. Keep a lookout for that! So far I’m working on that and on other projects, but I can’t really talk about the other projects yet!
Q: What advice do you have for any other college-aged artists out there?
A: Keep going. Use the resources that you have and don’t give yourself excuses. No “I don’t have time for this.” That hour that you spent scrolling through Instagram or YouTube, that’s an hour that you could be putting into your craft. So you really have to learn to prioritize.
I remember another quote, from an Uber driver from [when I was toward the end of] high school. It was the weirdest thing but it always stuck with me. He told me “You have two options right now, in this time of your life. You can either party these next four years and work like a dog for the rest of your life, or you can work like a dog for these next four years and party for the rest of your life.” So what do you want to do with these next four years or the time that you have here?
Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now, in your career and artistically?
A: Still doing art. I used to be a big believer in having certain goals and thinking “this is what’s going to happen in ten years,” but I kind of realized by talking to older people that you never really know where life is going to take you. You just have to have a big picture of your life purpose and keep working toward that. You may want to own a business, or you may want to be an entrepreneur, but life may throw you something else at you and you may just end up being an amazing professor or something like that. You never really know where you’re headed. But if you love a craft, then stick to it and wherever you’re meant to be, you’re going to end up there. Of course, you have to be strategic. I have certain goals, but I’m not going to attach an age to those goals.