The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Sophomore LHP Ryan Prager (18) celebrates getting the last strikeout during A&Ms games against Vanderbilt on Friday, April 11, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Ring Day run rule
April 12, 2024
Sophomore LHP Ryan Prager (18) celebrates getting the last strikeout during A&Ms games against Vanderbilt on Friday, April 11, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Ring Day run rule
April 12, 2024
Junior G Wade Taylor IV (4) covers his face after a missed point during Texas A&Ms game against Arkansas on Feb. 20, 2024 at Reed Arena. (Jaime Rowe/The Battalion)
When it rains, it pours
February 24, 2024
Ali Camarillo (2) waiting to see if he got the out during Texas A&Ms game against UIW on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 at Olsen Field. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Four for four
February 20, 2024
Advertisement
Dr. Weston Porter (top left) and researchers from the breast cancer lab. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Weston Porter)
New A&M research initiative provides cutting-edge cancer treatments
J.M. Wise, News Reporter • April 8, 2024

It has been 20 months since Michelle Pozzi, Ph.D, of Texas A&M’s Biochemistry and Biophysics department was diagnosed with cancer. However,...

Advertisement
Sophomore LHP Ryan Prager (18) celebrates getting the last strikeout during A&Ms games against Vanderbilt on Friday, April 11, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Ring Day run rule
Neil Jhurani, Sports Writer • April 12, 2024

It was Ring Day in Aggieland when No. 3 Texas A&M faced off against No. 6 Vanderbilt on Friday night in the first game of a three-game set. The...

Advertisement
Students, residents commemorates Eid Al-Fitr
Lasan Ukwatta Liyanage, Life & Arts Writer • April 11, 2024

This year's Eid Al-Fitr celebration, hosted by Texas A&M’s Muslim Student Association, or MSA, drew over 1,500 attendees on Wednesday,...

Advertisement
Student housing located right outside off campus boundaries on George Bush Drive. 
Guest Commentary: An open letter to City Hall
Ben Crockett, Guest Contributor • April 11, 2024

City Council, As representatives of the Texas Aggie Classes of 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, we write to you today to urge a reconsideration...

ESSENCE: A lesson in leaps of faith

Trey+Stephens+sits+in+his+studio%2C+which+was+his+former+guest+room.+Stephens%2C+who+specializes+in+Aggie+art%2C+had+paintings+of+Reveille+and+Santa+in+progress+for+Christmas.
Photo by Ishika Samant

Trey Stephens sits in his studio, which was his former guest room. Stephens, who specializes in Aggie art, had paintings of Reveille and Santa in progress for Christmas.

Following one’s passion isn’t a linear pursuit and not a journey for the faint-hearted. It demands time, deliberation and an immunity to uncertainty. People often concede without trying because uncertainty is daunting, but that deprives the world of a plethora of innovation.

It took a moment of trust for Trey Stephens, Class of 2008, to transition into being a full-time professional artist while raising four daughters. Despite his passion for art, Stephens said he failed art class in high school.
“I’ve always loved art, but I finally found my footing in it after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008,” Stephens said. “The treatment ended up meaning a lot of sleepless nights. In those moments of quiet, I had the time and the desire to make a lot of commissioned artworks.”

After years of making commissions, Stephens said he stumbled into the Aggie art world last year after creating a humorous piece titled “Outside the Commissioner’s Office” portraying A&M’s football coach, Jimbo Fisher, and Alabama’s football coach, Nick Saban, being sent to the SEC Commissioner’s office after a public feud.

“I believe that humor in art can create a natural platform for great conversations,” Stephens said. “I modeled this painting after Norman Rockwell’s masterpiece called ‘Outside the Principal’s Office.’ Originally, I had created that piece to make my friends laugh, but the viral press coverage the painting got made me realize that I could start timing my art pieces better to gain traction in the community.”

Stephens worked a full time job for 15 years after getting his degree in agricultural leadership and development from A&M. Three months ago, he said he decided it was time for him to make the shift into being a professional artist.

“For the longest time, I lacked the boldness, but knowing that I could rely on the Aggie Network to support my art career gave me the nudge I needed to start making art for a living,” Stephens said. “About three months ago, I decided to take a leap of faith when I handed in my [resignation] to my former employer. At the time, only my wife and my boss knew about this news. Within the hour, I got a call from the Texas Aggie Association commissioning an Aggie Park painting. At that moment, I felt like I had been rewarded for my boldness.”

Stephens sold over 400 prints of the painting in the last few months, he said. Stephens said his daily work now consists of five hours of painting with administrative tasks interspersed.

He said he transformed the guest bedroom of his home into a personal art studio with several paintings adorning every wall and a large painting easel commanding the attention of any spectator, for example.

“Making art everyday is exhilarating,” Stephens said. “However, when art is the way you make a living, you have to be deliberate and disciplined in your work. What new artists need to realize is that to be a professional artist, you have to first be willing to become an entrepreneur. Sure, I am the artist, but I’m also the marketing team, the administrative team and the printing team all rolled into one.”

Stephens said he loves the flexibility of working for himself. Working out of his home studio grants him more time to participate in more Aggie events and to nurture the artistic side of his daughters.

“I think my earliest influences in art came from my mother and grandma,” Stephens said.  “They were artistic in their own right with a knack for crafts. They had an innovative mindset and I was able to absorb some of it. Now, I hope I am able to pass it onto my daughters which will allow them to see the world around them with a creative eye.”

Coming from different parts of Texas, Stephens and his wife are both first-generation Aggies. Stephens said he chose to build a life in College Station because it instantly felt like home. Stephens is currently working on creating Christmas cards for the Jingle Bell Market which promotes local businesses and charities providing a festive shopping experience in the Bryan-College Station area. He said he wants to continue making art that cultivates good humor, invigorates the Aggie spirit and allows him to serve the local community.

“I would simply advise new artists to be bold,” Stephens said. “I would also ask them to focus on the relationships around them because they really matter. Finally, connect yourself with the Aggie Network and allow it to take care of you. But remember that you are [the] Aggie Network, so always find ways to pay that kindness forward.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *