Working under the handle Beastie + Bone, Seattle-based artist Stacia Baldwin creates illustrations and “paper taxidermy” pieces that transform the anatomical into art. Denik x Beastie + Bone is all about turning darkness into beauty.
1. What has driven you to be an artist?
I wanted to be an adventurer so bad as a kid. A paleontologist, a National Geographic writer, a cowboy, a National Park Ranger. But I was born with a number of health issues — some of which still are a part of my life — and as I grew I realized I wouldn’t be able to live out these dreams. So instead of digging up dinosaur bones, I drew them. In lieu of exploring distant ecosystems, I collected specimens from my backyard, and found I could appreciate the wonders of our world by recreating them in ways I could share with others. Drawing was the obvious first step, but evolved into paper art as a more immersive and tactile exploration of the bugs, animals, and plants I came across.
As I developed an understanding of my health issues, as well, I turned towards bones in particular with my art as a way of finding my body, and the bodies of others I share our earth with, beautiful and worth approaching with an open mind. Even with my health issues, my body is miraculous, and so is yours in all its unique ways!
What is your favorite medium to work with?
Most of my work begins in the digital realm due to the flexibility that creating this way gives me, but I love the end result of working with paper. My paper taxidermy, as I call it, fulfills so satisfyingly my need to really be involved with my work, holding each part in my hands and utilizing different materials and techniques. I crave challenge and variety in my art-making, and thinking through how to assemble something with many pieces and dimensions like a puzzle is almost meditative for me. Plus, as most of the paper I use is recycled, and, someday, could be recycled again, it fits in very well with my desire to be conscious of how my work affects our earth.
Do you have a favorite piece? A piece that brought you the most joy to create?
Though it’s several years old, my paper taxidermy piece “Life Investment” means a lot to me. I created it as a tribute to my own body as I was just starting to learn about my chronic health issues (many of which are located in my upper back/rib area) and a meditation on what kind of impact I want my life, and art, to have. It was also the first paper taxidermy piece I created that I thought, “Yeah, I could see myself making a lot of art like this”.
How do you get through a creative block?
I am very strict with myself in maintaining my creative practice, as over the past seven years I have not had much time to dedicate to art on a daily basis. When I get to sit down to create, that time is precious, and I jump right into creating so as not to waste it! But I’ve definitely burnt out from this demanding approach to making art. I find rejuvenation in being quiet and alone outdoors. I’ll try and just notice as much as I can around me: textures, colors, shapes, sounds, compositions. Slowing down and observing this way always reveals to me things I’ve never noticed before, and gives me a whole new level of inspiration!
What is your biggest dream/goal as an artist?
Helping others find the same wonder and comfort in our natural world that I have found throughout my life, and learn to extend that same attitude towards themselves and others. We’re part of nature, too! On the more business side of things, I’d love to work with natural history museums, non-profits, and even the National Parks System to help bring awareness to North American species and lands that are threatened and worth protecting.
As a side note, one long-time wish of mine has been to create a life-size Tyrannosaurs Rex skull out of paper. But that’ll have to wait until I have a bigger studio!
Is there any particular advice that has fueled your creative journey?
Be genuine. Both with the type of art you want to create, and how you present it, and yourself. The temptation to try to be trendy or cool is strong, particularly when you see how quickly that can grow online. But that also fades overnight. When you’re honest about what you make, why, and how you share it, however, you will not only be drawing from a source inside yourself that won’t dry up quickly, but others will see that you truly care about what you make, and the right people will resonate with it and want to be there for you for the long haul.
Anything else you want us to know?
I actually came across Denik notebooks for the first time when I was nineteen years old, and during one of the darkest parts of my life when it felt as if art was the only thing I had to hold onto. Before then, I’d never known artists could do things like create notebook covers. The thought that maybe someday I could become a professional artist who could create things like notebook covers got me through a lot. So becoming one of Denik’s artists has been an enormous dream come true.
But I share this really to say: if you are in your own dark place, and maybe you’re holding on to art as a lifeline, please don’t give up. The dark place is so hard to go through, I know. But I promise there are beautiful things coming that may even have their roots in what’s going on around you now. Just keep going, and keep creating. There are people out there waiting to meet you, and to see what you have made.
Where is the best place to view your art?
My website, www.beastieandbone.com, has everything on my work, from what galleries are showing my originals, to my own online shop where you can buy prints, merch, and more. But if you’d like to know more about my creative process and the adventures I’m up to, certainly visit my Instagram or TikTok! You can find me under @beastieandbone on both. Please say hi if you do!
Follow BEASTIE + BONE on Instagram for more of Stacia's artistic journey!