“Hearing other people’s stories and seeing how they work toward their climbing goals inspire me to create art that feels right for me,” says Stevie Lewis, a 29-year-old illustrator living in Flagstaff, Arizona. Though her work mostly focuses on picture books for children ages four to eight—including Moon! Earth’s Best Friend and Lost in the Library—and occasional character and environment design for animated films or kids’ TV shows, Lewis also does van-life portraits of climbers she’s met and draws iconic climbing locations like Miguel’s Pizza in Kentucky and the Burger Barn in Bishop.
Lewis started climbing in 2012 when a friend brought her to the Mission Cliffs gym in San Francisco; she later learned to place gear and climb multi-pitch routes at Smith Rock, Oregon. These days, Lewis mostly climbs in her current home of northern Arizona, and loves doing multi-pitch routes in the mountains. When she’s not on the rock, Lewis primarily works on a mobile tablet, allowing her to illustrate in her van or at coffee shops while traveling. “Working digitally makes it easy for me to make changes on client work, as well as travel light, since art supplies take up a lot of space,” she says.
While working full-time in animation earlier in her career, Lewis grew burned out and felt like she wasn’t creating art for herself. “But when I create art based around climbing and the adventures I’ve experienced, I feel balanced,” she says. In 2015, she hit the road, cragging and climbing across the United States, making her first stop in Smith Rock. “Travel has opened my life to wonderful people and beautiful places I would have never met or seen,” she says. The view of Asterisk Pass, backlit by the sun when she hiked out of Smith Rock, inspired the piece you see above. “I’d always pause at the parking lot and reflect on how lucky I was to be there, sharing the days with good friends and doing what I love: art and climbing,” Lewis says.
Preferred art media
Digital media, paper cutouts, gouache