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Handmade Portraits: Artstew

Mar 6, 2009

by Tara Young

MP4 | Youtube | | Subscribe in iTunes

(Music by Michael Chapman, Steve Gunn, The And Group, animation by JuliaPott)

Back in the 1970s, Holly Stewart, aka Artstew, was a single mom trying to raise two daughters. Holly decided to forgo art school to support her family, ultimately paying the bills and gaining respect within her Oklahoma City community by becoming a police officer. Even as she put in her time with the force (15 years!), she was always drawing.

It wasn’t until Holly quit the force and moved to Kansas City, Missouri to attend — and subsequently work at — the Kansas City Art Institute that she discovered the world of art beyond drawing. When she found silk screening and dispersion dying on polyester, everything else fell by the wayside. Holly came to a place where her high powered job, with all its perks and money, kept her from expressing herself as an artist. That’s when she gave up everything to make her art.

Holly spends her days in her funky, cozy apartment in the Midtown – Westport area of Kansas City, her cat Chicken by her side, as she experiments with dying polyester. She couldn’t be happier.

Watch our other Handmade Video Portraits and subscribe to our Youtube Channel!

Artistic Endeavors series | Mixed Media Art Category | Fiber Art Category | FAST Team


  • norajane

    norajane said 12 years ago


  • redyellowandblueink

    redyellowandblueink said 12 years ago

    Fabulous fabric work. Awe inspiring use of the breadth of techniques here-amazing.

  • mirajolie

    mirajolie said 12 years ago

    Absolutely fantastic - makes me grin from ear to ear! Beautiful, beautiful work.

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 12 years ago

    Loved reading your story and watching the video~ I stumbled upon your shop perusing etsy for items that were orange when making a treasury. Hearted your shop and fell in love with your scarves and colors, just something unique about all of your work. Neat you are following your heart-passion for art and designing.

  • katiearms

    katiearms said 12 years ago

    A beautiful story captured in a beautiful video!

  • AwApplesauce

    AwApplesauce said 12 years ago

    I loved the video. It's nice to hear about an artist's real background and why they choose to do what they do. It was a lot more satisfying to me than "I'm from etsy! I'm magically successful!"

  • glamasaurus

    glamasaurus said 12 years ago

    What a wonderful story!

  • horshid

    horshid said 12 years ago

    I like them all;)

  • wendybirde

    wendybirde said 12 years ago

    I loved this video! I really feel these bring you so much closer to an artist, and Holly, I love you art!

  • glasfaden

    glasfaden said 12 years ago

    Inspiring video & story and beautiful work! Thank you for sharing!

  • niTeBecOmEsdAy

    niTeBecOmEsdAy said 12 years ago

    what lovely things...

  • FrucciDesign

    FrucciDesign said 12 years ago

    what can I say...inspiring!!

  • Elizaveta

    Elizaveta said 12 years ago

    Wow! Holly is an inspiration. Her strength and passion for her art and her journey speaks volumes!

  • weirdwolf Admin

    weirdwolf said 12 years ago

    Holly and I had a terrific time shooting this video! I wish I could have added so many more moments, like when Holly goes on about how much she loved being a cop because of the beautiful uniform she got to wear or her own interpretations of the amateur art that she collects. Such a witty and inspiring woman!

  • meganaker

    meganaker said 12 years ago

    what an awesome and inspiring story. thank you and bless you!

  • pambranchdesigns

    pambranchdesigns said 12 years ago

    Great story. I quit my job as a lawyer to pursue my jewelry and art as a career. I love reading about other's artists' success stories. My best to you.

  • azuredandelion

    azuredandelion said 12 years ago

    Great article! Thank you for sharing your story! Ayita

  • karivintageornaments

    karivintageornaments said 12 years ago

    Love the video!! My mom was also single mother making teddy bears raising 2 children!

  • missbatch

    missbatch said 12 years ago

    Wow, Holly is truly inspiring and this video beautifully illustrates that fact! Thanks for sharing.

  • beyeler

    beyeler said 12 years ago

    Awesome work and great video! Thanks!

  • VintageinBohemia

    VintageinBohemia said 12 years ago

    oh I love that Jazz piece.. adding it to my wishlist!

  • lros2002

    lros2002 said 12 years ago

    so much texture and color

  • Slowshirts

    Slowshirts said 12 years ago

    I loved this handmade portrait! Way to go Holly, keep up that internal vibrating!

  • emgollie

    emgollie said 12 years ago

    I wish this woman was my aunt. Well articulated and beautifully shot.

  • paperdesign

    paperdesign said 12 years ago

    You are just so fantastic. Love your work.

  • soulflower

    soulflower said 12 years ago

    What a great story!!!!! I love her!

  • sadlyharmless

    sadlyharmless said 12 years ago

    the way she spoke about her passion was really inspiring. thank you so much holly!

  • redyellowandblueink

    redyellowandblueink said 12 years ago

    Artstew I had to come back and watch the video, you are awesome and many of the things you said about art and making really resonated with me. I am so happy for this handmade portrait.

  • uncharted

    uncharted said 12 years ago

    great story!

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 12 years ago

    inspiring story, was to go Artsew...we're proud of u!

  • JesseMosher

    JesseMosher said 12 years ago

    This was great , It is inspiring and well done . Keep having these Video interviews .. Looking forward to the next one . Congratulations Artstew- Holly , Good luck , and all the best .

  • slidesideways

    slidesideways said 12 years ago

    Seriously great story, so inspiring and such awesome stuff. Truly beautiful!

  • ClaudiaLord

    ClaudiaLord said 12 years ago

    Beautiful work! and so inspiring!!

  • LouAnnsdesigns

    LouAnnsdesigns said 12 years ago

    What a lovely story. I agree you have do what it is you really love to do in order to be happy. What's around the corner we don't know, so while there is still time we have to get busy using our God given gifts. Holly continue making your beautiful art work, you really inspired me. Thanks

  • eRosasjewelry

    eRosasjewelry said 12 years ago

    I really enjoyed hearing about your process and especially how you got to where you are now. I can really relate to a lot that you said. Thank You for sharing.

  • Signs

    Signs said 12 years ago

    I really like those route 66 sign drawings in the video.

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk said 12 years ago

    I watched the entire video and I have to admit, it is really wonderful to see someone who is truly passionate about their art and can express it in such a transparent and enthusiastic way! I loved it!

  • VedaArts

    VedaArts said 12 years ago

    wonderful story! there is something about fabric and the tactile nature of us having to be around it and make with it to enrich our lives and clothe our bodies and of course enchant our eyes!

  • citydetails

    citydetails said 12 years ago

    Holly, Watching the video I could feel your joy! You are a truly inspiring woman. Kudos to you!!!

  • PetDrawings

    PetDrawings said 12 years ago

    love it!

  • filigreelamps

    filigreelamps said 12 years ago

    woohoo! You go super single mom, I'm right there with ya!

  • MetroGypsy

    MetroGypsy said 12 years ago

    AMAZING patterns and brilliant colors! Very inspiring video!


    CASTCOUTURE said 12 years ago

    so very inspiring, thanks for such a cool and honest video :)

  • EllaPhantePhashion

    EllaPhantePhashion said 12 years ago

    yay for holly!!!

  • topsyturvydesign

    topsyturvydesign said 12 years ago

    I loooove that you quoted "some lady on Judge Matheson" for your motto. You are an absolute delight Ms. Holly! FAB portrait!

  • DewberryVintage

    DewberryVintage said 12 years ago

    You Go Girl! I loved your video! You're story inspires, as does your work! Thanks for sharing :)

  • mothdesigns

    mothdesigns said 12 years ago

    holly, i so enjoyed watching this and mostly listening to you talk about your work--it so clearly shows that your passion for art is your heart's truth. thank you for sharing! love it.

  • mloartwear

    mloartwear said 12 years ago

    Holly, your sense of colors and design is great. Really like the video to see your background and where you are now, very interesting and inspiring!

  • OliveSomeday

    OliveSomeday said 12 years ago

    really nice... I adore the I like your shoes!

  • TreeHuggerStudio

    TreeHuggerStudio said 12 years ago

    I love your story and how by telling it you inspire so many.You go girl!

  • VictorianInspired

    VictorianInspired said 12 years ago

    What a lovely story!

  • voleurdebijoux

    voleurdebijoux said 12 years ago

    gorgeous work! love all the colors and creative designs!

  • metrostation

    metrostation said 12 years ago

    Very nice work love the idea of printing on vintage fabrics such unique designs!

  • blackeyedsuzie

    blackeyedsuzie said 12 years ago

    Lovely work, Holly & Tara! Thanks so much for sharing your work!

  • eireguitar

    eireguitar said 12 years ago

    Beautiful work, and the name of your cat is hilarious. Kudos to you for following your bliss!

  • sewlutionsbyamo

    sewlutionsbyamo said 12 years ago

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. You are so alive talking about your art and are a true inspiration.

  • LittleGreenSquirrel

    LittleGreenSquirrel said 12 years ago

    Love, love, love it! Thanks for sharing this inspiring story! I'm going to watch the video again so I can memorize that motto! So true!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 12 years ago

    Loved it!Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • PipocaHandmade

    PipocaHandmade said 12 years ago

    Beautiful experiments! Wonderful story!

  • ooty

    ooty said 12 years ago

    Great story! =0)

  • copabananas

    copabananas said 12 years ago

    what an amazing woman! thanks for sharing her colorful and inspiring story!

  • KellesKitchen

    KellesKitchen said 12 years ago

    What a beautiful story and fabulous work!

  • judygovintage

    judygovintage said 12 years ago

    Awe inspiring story, awe inspiring work! A great share to remind all artists in every vein.

  • jenkennedydesigns

    jenkennedydesigns said 12 years ago

    What a neat story and video. I think many esty sellers can relate. This is the great interest behind the handmade can't find that in a department store!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 12 years ago


  • singinglittlethings

    singinglittlethings said 12 years ago

    Oh, such beautiful colors!

  • pennyspug

    pennyspug said 12 years ago

    Great outlook on life

  • Rhiannon228

    Rhiannon228 said 12 years ago

    This story made me cry, when she said, "I gave everything for art." I can understand completely why she did that. Beautiful work.

  • vivikas

    vivikas said 12 years ago

    Holly, your story is beautiful and your love for art just inspired me so much! Wonderful!

  • StudioCherie

    StudioCherie said 12 years ago

    Thanks for posting in video format, what a great way to discover a lovely artist!

  • MagpieMine

    MagpieMine said 12 years ago

    Beautiful and very inspiring. Love the colors.

  • GoldhawkPotteryEtc

    GoldhawkPotteryEtc said 12 years ago

    Loved this video - her color and enthusiasm. Great story, and I will share!

  • popsiclestick

    popsiclestick said 12 years ago

    Could you please find more of these engaging, interesting, smart, beautiful artists and keep these coming? This is our own little Etsy This American Life - much love and thanks!

  • shadethatlamp

    shadethatlamp said 12 years ago

    thank you, I love your colorful picks too :-)

  • PhineasandLou

    PhineasandLou said 12 years ago

    This is such a wonderful video with such a wonderful feel! I am so moved and inspired by Holly :)

  • kinchi

    kinchi said 12 years ago

    What a beautiful, wise and moving artist! I loved this video, it's truly inspiring.

  • wehofer

    wehofer said 12 years ago

    That is a beautiful life. I am so happy when I hear of people doing what they absolutely love every day. Thank you for the happy cry.

  • obi1

    obi1 said 12 years ago

    What an inspiring story! Made me want to get up out of my office chair and go home to make something...

  • sisply

    sisply said 12 years ago

    amazing woman and amazing work!! :)

  • eclecticmoi

    eclecticmoi said 12 years ago

    Enjoyed watching this video soooo much!!! You are a such a Gift to the world Holly, I loved watching your creative process, and seeing the joy in your face as you talked was so lovely :)

  • anflorence

    anflorence said 12 years ago

    A wonderful story and Holly you are a true ispiration for any artists and not only , in fact youare a wonderful person and mom , anyone can tell from the way you speak and from your story. I love your art and the passion you pursuit with. Thank you Alessia Nencioni

  • hakalah

    hakalah said 12 years ago

    Hi Holly, What a beautiful and REDEMPTIVE story, in every way. You could start a "Salvage Army" - for consideration. Have you considered making a book with your story and your art combined? We were created by the Creator to create, and how you exemplify this. I was so inspired by your story. Never stop, is all I can say. As long as you have breath left, NEVER STOP.

  • janiesmash

    janiesmash said 12 years ago

    really really enjoyed this. If i had more than two thumbs... they would be up too!

  • foxtrailgeneralstore

    foxtrailgeneralstore said 12 years ago

    I really loved this video. It was very inspiring! The work is very interesting.

  • cathydarling

    cathydarling said 12 years ago

    Hi Holly, I loved hearing about your art and your progress to get where you are today. I loved your creative approach to your art. Very awesome and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • shushop

    shushop said 12 years ago

    this is the most inspiring story. you are speaking my mind...

  • MimiBoutique

    MimiBoutique said 12 years ago

    I just love her energy. It was inspiring to watch such creativity and positive attitude and love for her work and the process.

  • youmeyou

    youmeyou said 11 years ago

    Awesome work!

  • shawndrathea

    shawndrathea said 11 years ago

    I love to hear the story of other artists.It is so inspiring.The joy she finds in her work is contagious!

  • adessojewelry

    adessojewelry said 11 years ago

    YOU GO, GIRL!! You are an amazing artist, and I have so much respect for you, following your heart and making absolutely beautiful works of art. Video is spectacular. You are my heroine! All the best to you, and thanks for the inspiration.

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