An artist, says Rochelle Steffen, is just someone with a bunch of questions. “I question everything. Making art helps me through those questions and acts as a therapy. I encourage anyone to get creative to get messy because when you do you learn about yourself,” she says.
Originally from Barnhart, Mo., just south of St. Louis, Steffen works in a variety of mediums, most notably pet-focused portrait photography. Her nickname is Rocket, and you can find her work online via sites such as Etsy under Shane Rocket, as well as at shanerocket.com and on Facebook.
And next Friday – March 2 – you can find her at Annie Laurie’s, where she’ll be doing awesome pet photography to raise funds for the local Humane Society.
Is shopping/buying local something you feel strongly about?
Yes. If people shop locally, then it keeps the money here, which betters the community. I would rather see the money I spend go back to our area and buy someone food, or clothes, than buy some random executive in some skyscraper another vacation home.
What is it about vintage that appeals to you?
Rust. I love anything rusty or abused from years of use. The things that appeal to me have lots of character. I am all for the junkiest piece of what I call treasure!
How did you get started in photography?
I have had some sort of camera in my hand since before I could walk. I don’t know how, really, but this ability to capture a feeling or a moment that you will never get back is very important to me. The world is always changing – maybe I don’t like change? I want to be able to look back and see something that made me happy or something I can’t ever see again. A photo is more than a memory, it is a laugh, a tear, or a place you long to be again.
What’s the most important part of your day?
Anytime I’m not working. I am always thinking about stuff to make, or creating art or projects all the other times of the day. Sometimes I forget to eat when I’m really motivated about a new idea!
Favorite thing to do on a Friday night in Cape Girardeau County?
Since I’m a pretty boring individual, I tend to be home with my dogs making art. I rarely sit, watch TV or do other normal things. I love to go to First Friday (with the Arts) when I can. I spend every dollar I make doing more creative things. A typical Friday is me feeding my severe ADD by doing dog watercolor sketches, spray painting, re-upholstering a chair, cutting wood with a saw, working on Photoshop designs, sewing anything…. My poor dogs follow me around from my office to my downstairs studio to my back porch (where I do the messy stuff) and never get to settle very long!
We love your photographs of animals; why do you enjoy photographing pets?
Thank you! I always have a camera, even if it is just my iPhone. I have taken photos of my pets daily for years. My newest dog, Mac, is my victim mostly! I get ideas for pet photography all the time. Someone suggested one night to put a fedora on Mac. I called Laurie a few minutes before AL closed one night and and was like “I know you have a gray fedora, will you please stay there till I come get it?!” I raced over there and got the hat a minute before they closed and took him to my photography studio and did a session with him and his vintage hat. The photos turned out awesome!
The vintage hat gave the photos a look that a new, modern-day-bought hat couldn’t! I have also volunteered every week at the Humane Society for over nine years now taking photos of the pets for Petfinder. I have been called the dog whisperer photographer… I have photographed every dog breed possible and hundreds of some breeds. We get a few minutes with each dog there to try and get as many finished as possible, so it needs to be a good photo, quick. We need to be able to get them at ease so their true nature comes through in the photo to get them adopted.
Website or app you cannot do without right now…
Pintrest, eBay, etsy, my artist Facebook page. And I have, oh, about 80 photo apps on my phone and my top fav’s are: Diptic, Pixlromatic, Photogene2, Pictureshow, and Splice for my video editing.
How do you incorporate vintage (or repurposing/reusing/upcycling) into your lifestyle?
I am constantly looking in my favorite antique shops for a deal …and dumpsters. I am that “crazy” picking stuff out of the trash. I am even alerted by friends when they see stuff I might be able to “work with.”
A friend once picked a cool old wooden chair out of the trash for me! I don’t really know what I’m doing when I find something, but love the trial-and-error process that goes along with re-doing whatever I find.
I love to find different uses for items – pallets for instance. I have a truckload of ratty old pallets right now. I see some furniture in my future. It is so much fun to find alternative uses for things that people throw away or sell off.
My father was one of those hoarders you see on cable TV shows. He collected junk that wasn’t able to be used in any form or fashion. I acquired a little of that trait, so my house has mostly the very basic a room needs. I have no clutter anywhere, everything has a place and that keeps me sane to know I will never be like him. EXCEPT my basement art studio and my small outside porch for messy works. I allow myself to hoard stuff for art or my projects. If it fits in my basement studio or on my back porch, I tell myself I can have as much as I want. I seem to always be thankful I grabbed this or that!
What other types of mediums do you work with via Shane Rocket?
Old toys! I take old Barbies and make “art dogs” out of them. I LOVE taking any type of any old toy and making new creatures. I call them “modified’s” and they are hard to part with when I’m finished with them. They have their own little souls. Pretty much anything from big to little, I can find something to do with it. I love the discarded things that nobody wants, anything old.
LEARN MORE ABOUT FIRST FRIDAY AT ANNIE LAURIE’S WITH ROCHELLE STEFFEN ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE.