Stephen Shepherd Swancoat is not just an Ob/Gyn resident, he is also an artist. He didn’t actually get into art until he moved to New York City as a third year medical student. During a visit, his father told him to try doing art. Knowing that he couldn’t paint, he took his point and shoot camera and starting snapping photos around New York.
He was introduced to “Exit through the Gift Shop,” a documentary about street artists and a man that wanted to become a street artist. Being inspiried by Mr Brainwash, he put down his camera and picked up paint and canvases. He told himself “If I am going to paint, I might as well see if I can become an ‘artist.’”
He admits that being in shows is a lot of hard work and time. When he has an upcoming show, he focuses his energy and extra time towards his work until opening night. Regardless of how much work it takes, he says that being in exhibitions is one of the best feelings in the world. “Nothing is a better feeling than that opening night of your show. Overall, it’s a humbling feeling in a very interesting world, the art world.”
Where do you see your future in art?
SS: I will continue to make art and practice Ob/Gyn until the day I die. I plan to stay in New York City and pursue both full time. It's very hard to answer this question because if you asked me if just 6 months ago if I ever thought I would host an art show with Susan Sarandon and be making paintings for Vladimir Putin, I would have thought you were crazy. Only time will tell how far my artwork will actually go and its' significance to the “Art World”. All I can do is keep working as hard as possible, remain humble and keep following my dreams and heart.
What does art bring you?
SS: Brings my joy, satisfaction, an outlet to disconnect from reality and enter my own creative world. It brings me closer to people, brings me happiness.
What's your favorite part of being an artist?
SS: My favorite part of being an artist is playing the part of an artist. From taking a creative idea and putting it on a canvas, to the gallery shows, studio visits, photo shoots, magazine interviews, the inspiration you can spread to others, the joys people take from your paintings, I enjoy every minute of being an artist. It has changed my views on life and the world surrounding me. Much more than I really know how to try to portray in words.
As an artist, what inspires you?
SS: Anything can. Many times it’s when I am not thinking of art that a completely irrelevant idea or subject will spark a creative thought in my head. That will be then be the idea behind my next painting or series, or a creative move to advance myself as an artist.
What motivates me though are inspirational people and their stories. I love art history, especially American Art History. What fascinates me is why do paintings by Jackson Pollock, or Jasper Johns sell for tens to a hundred of million dollars and found in museums worldwide, while so many thousands of talented artists go unknown forever in history.
I am also inspired by the great minds of our time. People such as Howard Hughes who single handedly changed this work for what it is today. Not only were they accomplished in one field, but multiple which is what I strive for as an artist and doctor.
Is there a specific project that you would like to work on?
SS: Yes, currently starting just last week for the most part, I am stepping away from the usual Pop Art that I have best become known for and getting back into doing more conceptual based artwork. I also just recently purchased a Canon 6D camera and am getting back into photography. I am also secretly preparing for a solo exhibition which will be this upcoming fall or spring.
If you were not doing art, what would you be doing?
SS: I would probably just be an Ob/Gyn resident. Though I am sure I would have some other side project I am working on.
Why are you still into art?
SS: Because it has grown far beyond just a passion, art is an obsession and addiction that I cannot go a single day without thinking about. Everyday I am thinking of new ideas on art pieces, the art world, inspiration, and how to advance myself as an “artist”.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
SS: This is for all the inspiring artists out there. That, not to ever listen to anyone other than yourself, and that anything and everything is possible if you believe it is so and work harder than anyone towards it.
When I wanted to go to medical school, no one thought I could make it. I even had a college professor refuse to write me a letter of recommendation because he didn’t think I would survive through medical school. I since graduated medical school and am now at my first choice of Ob/Gyn residency in New York City.
When I started painting I tried befriending artists and getting involved with a lot of them. Many were so hesitant to work with me and many brushed me off as none took me serious as I didn’t go to art school and was a medical student who just started painting. Now, many are approaching me to team up, work together and advice in making it through the trenches of the so called “art world”.
So no matter how small or big your dream is, don’t believe anyone who doesn’t think you will get there, Even if they are your friends and family. Follow your heart, trust your gut and don’t look back.