Warren: Every day I get a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of Stampscapes Yahoo Group Digests with lots of discussion activity in them. You have a legion of fans and a great amount of deserved respect. How did you get to where you are? How did you begin?
Kevin: When I was in college in 1987 I happened to take a job at A Stamp in the Hand Co. Working for Kathie Okamoto in the early days of the hobby of rubberstamping was a wonderful experience. I wasn't hired to do designs but, periodically, the employees would submit designs for new stamp consideration. Eventually, I had quite a few designs in their lineup and my modular stamps were catching on which included a nature series. After graduating and doing freelance illustration for a couple years I started Stampscapes. I've been fortunate to be able to do something that I truly love for all these years and thank all the scenic stamping enthusiasts out there.
Warren: How does your on-line Yahoo Group club work?
Kevin: The Yahoo Groups are great. They're a place that people can go and post questions for very talented stampers and view and share their own artwork in the galleries. However, they're not Stampscapes run groups but run by enthusiasts of the line. I tend to think they're better as a peer run groups.
Warren: To me this looks hard. What is the hardest part?
Kevin: The hardest part for those that haven't done scenic stamping before, when looking at a finished piece, is figuring out the process. Where do you start a composition? What colors are used and in what order?
Warren: I see you at shows and conventions. Visitors are doing make and takes and you are leading them yourself. How long have you been doing them?
Kevin: I oscillate between doing make-and-takes and demonstrations from show to show or maybe hour to hour. I started demonstrating my own lines for A Stamp in the Hand Co. back in 1991 and leading people through convention make-and-takes in 1994 or so.
Warren: Clearly you can make these marvelous landscapes. Are your students and customers able to achieve something close to your level of success? What is the best way to learn it?
Kevin: A beginner with no experience at scenic stamping can do a simple card and achieve a perfectly executed scene. The difference between a persons first scene and one of my scenes can be minimal or be no different in terms of surface finish. I see it all the time in make-and-takes and workshops. What helps is to have a little live guidance from someone that knows the techniques or by following a DVD or step-by-step instructions such as the ones on our website. There are many customers/scenic stampers that not only achieve something close to my compositions but they surpass them in their own way. The beauty of scenic stamping is that people can learn the basics and replicate what they see but, because of the compositional and media variations, people can take them in their own directions and create their signature style.
Warren: You said that there was some relationship with my wife Dee and the way you color. Did I hear correctly?
Kevin: I think the "coloring lineage" of utilizing dye based inks, for many stampers, can often be traced back to Dee's usage of the Marvy Brush Markers in the early days of rubberstamping. I learned about these markers from Kathie Okamoto from A Stamp in the Hand and, if I'm not mistaken, she learned about them from Dee.
Warren: What have you done that has pleased you most?
Kevin: Personally speaking, marrying my wife and having our little boy Sean. Professionally speaking, starting Stampscapes without doubt is right at the top of the list. It's been so many things to me such as a teacher of life, a vehicle for connecting me with family and past friends and for meeting new ones.
Warren: Has anyone ever helped or assisted you?
Kevin: I couldn't have done much without the help of others. Friends and family have helped me at the shows, in the office, my high school friend Scott helped to set up and maintain the website for several years, and I've had an incredible staff throughout the years. From an exposure standpoint, you could say that enthusiasts of the line have always helped spread the word of the line and without that, we wouldn't exist. There have been some great independent instructors out there teaching and spreading the techniques as well. Scenic stamping is such a niche, within the niche market of rubberstamping, that word of mouth has been everything.
Warren: What are your future plans?
Kevin: As many years as I have had Stampscapes, in many ways, I feel as though I've just scratched the surface as far as the possibilities go. I probably have a thousand designs that I have yet to do that have been in mind for ten years but just haven't had the time to draw yet. I would like to bolster up our website with more content and to create better, more concise, instructional materials making the techniques more readily accessible for those interested in learning them. One of these days, if I ever have the time again, I would like to get out for in person teaching and demonstrating.
Warren: What is the best way for someone to become involved with what you are doing?
Kevin: Scenic stamping is about the seamless integration of individual elements. If someone feels so inclined to learn about how to do this, or any other rubberstamping method, nothing beats a live workshop or demonstration. However, if they don't have access to such a venue they can look online if they have access to the internet. The internet has such a wealth of information and the Stampscapes website (www.stampscapes.com) is one of several sites out there devoted to the scenic stamping genre and includes materials and techniques FAQs along with dozens of step-by-step lessons.