We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephen Early and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephen, every day, we know how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The idea of making a living off my artwork has always been a dream of mine. It was never clear how I’d make it happen until my wife and I were thinking of meaningful gift ideas for our friend’s engagement. With a week to go before their engagement party I decided to create a surprise portrait painting for them. That single painting sparked a flood of custom art requests and I have been busy creating for people ever since. The name Art From Early was heavily influenced by that experience. With so many artist brand names that put emphasis on their name itself, I felt that my inspiration came from creating gifts for people rather than just being a good artist and stamping my name on it. Not long after, I was asked to take a photo of a deceased loved one and combine it with a photo of her newborn baby girl for a portrait drawing. It was a surprise Christmas gift for her husband as their child had never met his dad. On Christmas morning he watched the time-lapse video I had created for them and she filmed his reaction. My reaction to that video, as tears fell from my face, changed my whole outlook on the business I was building. The brand name stuck, and the vast majority of artwork I’ve created for people since then has been very similar.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a custom portrait artist. I work mainly in oil paints and occasionally color pencils when it’s requested. My portrait artwork is highly realistic, yet I try to mix in a bit of artistic expression so that my work is not a mere photographic copy.
I’m extremely proud to be where I am today as a full-time artist, and achieving that life long goal was not an easy task. When I started Art From Early I worked ten to twelve hour days at Red Bull and then came home to paint for customers for an additional five to eight hours. The work life balance was tough, especially with a wife and child. I have my friends, family, and most importantly my amazing customers to thank for getting me through that time. With every piece of art I completed an outpour of support and encouragement followed and the idea of being a full-time entrepreneur became more promising.
My only goal was and still is to be able to support my family while having the freedom to reach as many families as I can with my artwork. My mission as an artist and business owner is to bring joy, happiness and maybe comfort and closure into the homes of all the families I’m fortunate to work with. It’s the only way I know how to give back to my awesome community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For a week long trip in Colorado Springs we would go to the heart of the city. Almost all the best places to visit in the city are in the downtown area. My favorite restaurant is Paravicini’s Italian Bistro. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is always awesome. The Garden of the Gods is close by and always fun to visit and shoot photos. We would definitely hang out on the Tejon strip, grab some beers, and enjoy the nightlife. Jack Quinns Irish Pub has amazing food and live music.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my wife, Stephanie Early. Thank you for supporting my ambition to do what I love for a living. Also, to all my friends and family that have believed in the quality of my work since day one, thank you. Your words of encouragement are a life force for an artist like myself.