Steph Morris is an artist from Manchester currently living in London. Using the traditional combination of pencil on paper, her work showcases the perfect union of skill and heart to create timeless classics. Her love for football and sneakers started when she was a kid and she tells about how the football classics are part of her work today.
Follow Steph @stephfmorris
Can you tell us a little about who you are and where you are from?
My name is Steph Morris and I am an artist from a small place called Chorley, just outside Manchester. To be honest, I never really took drawing very seriously as a young child growing up. It was mostly just something I did as a hobby. Of course I enjoyed it. It was fun for me, it was a way to release, but yeah, it was all very accidental how I got into it.
I was kind of stuck around my 20s, didn’t really know what to do with my life. So I nearly dropped out of uni, but one of my tutors asked me ‘Why don’t you try drawing? Because we can see, you know, that you are interested in that’. So I was like, I’ll give it a go, see what happens. And that really sparked the idea that I could maybe do this for a living.
Before that time I had no idea that you can actually make money from drawing, which is crazy. Lots and lots of young people don’t know that and I think that’s really sad. So I’d love to go and visit some local schools and talk about career pathways as it’s such a shame that young people who are creative and love drawing think that they need to give up on that dream. I’m quite passionate about that.
When you started what were you drawing?
It wasn’t sneakers. I started drawing portraits and really weird things like messed up teeth and injuries on hands. It was always very detailed though, so that was always my style. I’d love to capture as much detail as possible. Through that process I kind of learned how to make something come to life on the page. It was through that process of hours and hours of practice and drawing that helped me learn and develop my own style. And that’s pretty how I got to where I am now.
When was your first published work?
Oh, good question. After I graduated from uni, I graduated within a graphic design course, I started working at size? at their head office doing graphic design work. They knew I could draw because when I had the interview, I supported my application with the drawing side. They had me do an illustrated campaign for Reebok. That was my first major gig and I was so excited about that. I think I ended up doing four drawings for them in the campaign that supported the release of the shoes. So yeah, I was really stoked about that. They supported me in that aspect. They always allowed me to explore my illustration side so that was really cool of them.
Such a great story so far, really nice to hear how you got started. So how did your connection to football start?
I actually love football. I used to play for the Blackburn Rovers girls when I was younger, so I would always be playing matches every Sunday. and kicking a ball around with the boys. I think football and football culture has had an influence on my work as well.
How would you describe that?
It’s all about the fans, the people who are so passionate about their team. There’s a huge nod towards fashion within football as well. And that nostalgic feeling that you get with football and following a team. That’s something that I always try to tap in on really.
I love looking back and remembering iconic moments in football that takes me back to being a child. That’s why I drew the 98 World Cup jersey from David Beckham, because I remember that like it was yesterday. I think that football has the power to do that… it can connect an audience as well, because it’s a great conversational starter and everyone appreciates those iconic moments in football. So I think it’s a really special sport. It’s why it’s definitely my favorite sport.
What inspires your style when it comes to football? Or is it tied to to those big football moments like England playing the Euro’s?
I think it’s more to do with looking back, because I unfortunately can’t play football anymore. I’ve had many knee surgeries, so I stopped. But when I think back to playing football I just feel this nostalgia about my worn out World Cup series boots that I used to wear. I remember the shin pads and the battered up goalie gloves. You know, the kind of things that you can almost smell. It’s the memory that sparks when you see something visual and that’s what I try and tap into. And that’s why I love to draw special objects that you will look at and think, oh wow, I remember that.
Which players and maybe his style was remarkable to you?
Good question. I think one of the biggest is probably David Beckham. I was always a massive fan of classic iconic players really, not just English. I admired Henry, Zidane, Ronaldo. Those players kind of molded my memories of football and I always remember admiring their fancy footwork on TV. And obviously David Beckham is a huge, huge style icon, even today.
Who are your favorite teams?
Uh, well, my team is Blackburn Rovers. Been supporting them since I was a kid. I also have a massive soft spot for Arsenal. I always liked watching players such as Bergkamp and Thierry Henry. Great and classic players who I used to admire back in the days.
When did your love for sneakers begin?
I mean that’s always been there to be honest. When I was a kid, probably around 10. I used to get pocket money which I would save up and buy trainers with. And you know, I wasn’t interested in magazines and makeup, like all the girls were. I would just go into sport shops and see all the sneakers and think ‘Oh, wow, that’s such a cool pair, I’m gonna buy them next’. It kinda started from there really. I’ve always kept hold of sneakers and my collection is pretty big now. It’s what makes me happy. Just happiness. That’s it.
Maybe it all started with David Beckham and now we are in 2019. How do you feel that football, streetwear and style are connected?
I think roughly everything is interlinked, and I think that that has made its way into streetwear as well. The high-tech/high performance category has taken influence massively. It’s a new kind of product that we’re looking at. The old clunky form has made way for super sleek. I have drawn quite a few football boots and looking at the modern day football boots compared to the more classic football boots, there’s such a huge difference. And I think that represents how time has moved along.
How do you see yourself going from here? Or maybe what’s your dream when it comes to your work?
I’m actually planning a series on iconic football shirts. I’m going to be producing some of the most iconic football shirts and in color and life size as well. So pretty big. What I always try and achieve with my work is a connection. Obviously football is a huge sport, so many people who are passionate about it will have stories to tell. I just want to get that across in my work. A pair of beaten up football boots or a shirt that looks a bit tatty and worn, for me that tells such a cool story. It’s super interesting and people can relate to the work. So I’m definitely going to explore that going forward.
How do you feel that the women’s game evolved?
I mean, obviously I’m a huge advocate for women’s football and I think it’s great. It’s absolutely fantastic. I still don’t think we need to call it ‘Women’s football’, just football. I’ve been to see lots of women’s games myself and the quality is fantastic. It’s something that is becoming much more accepted which is great. Even the difference from when I used to play until now is massive. It’s amazing that we now have positive role models such as Steph Houghton and Toni Duggan who young girls can look up to. I still think there’s a long way to go in terms of pay and equality, but at least it’s improving.
Anything you would like to add to your story?
Like I tell the students, just believe in yourself. Just be confident, go out there and grab whatever dream you have. And believe me, it is possible. Because five years ago, I was that kid who had dreams of doing what I’m doing now and I’m actually doing it. So I think the most important thing is to work hard, keep your head down and just stay in your lane and anything is achievable.
Rapid Fire Questions:
Top 3 sneakers
• Travis Scott ‘Cactus Jack’
• Parra AM1
• Sean Wotherspoon AM1/95
• Oi Polloi or END
• Padella, THE best pasta!