The Man Behind Our Art and Design: Meet Stephen Zhang


If you’ve been following Verdigris over the past few months, you have undoubtedly come across Stephen’s name as an important collaborator for our second season. Stephen and Sam met at The Cultured Cup, a tea shop owned by board member Kyle Stewart. Kyle is an honest-to-goodness, tea-slinging matchmaker. He sees the common areas in people’s lives, gets them talking over tea, and waters (with the finest pot of Oolong) the seeds of friendships, working relationships, and even romances (yes, he recently attended the wedding of a couple he strategically introduced).

As Kyle got to know Sam and his goals for Verdigris, he put him in contact with Stephen knowing the collaborative potential of these two artists. When Kyle first showed us the web portfolio of Stephen’s work, our jaws dropped. The detail and vibrancy that effortlessly dance across his watercolor pieces captured our imaginations. 

Rialto. Watercolor on paper. 36x48 inch.

Rialto. Watercolor on paper. 36x48 inch.

Stephen now serves on the Verdigris board, and his creative input has significantly shaped our second season. He created the watercolor artwork for each upcoming concert, designed this year’s season booklet, and gave Verdigris a fresh face with an updated logo.

For our Faces of Dallas concert in the spring, his watercolor portraits of residents from neighborhoods across the city will form the backbone of the performance. The vivid humanity that he captures in his work will bring life to the stories we tell.

Born in China, Stephen’s career started with a fine arts degree at the prestigious Luxun Academy of Fine Art and later an MFA from University of North Texas. He has served as Vice President and Creative Director at Fossil, Filson, and Lodge26 Branding Agency. This Fall he has begin teaching at UNT. He brings a treasure trove of experience and artistic intuition to the workings of Verdigris.

In his artist’s statement, Stephen says, “I choose the specific subject to paint—be it a forest or a person—not only based on its appearance, but also its spirit and the story. The process of my figurative painting is a process of character study and emotional development. Each time I apply a stroke to the painting, I add another angle to the story, or another layer of emotion. My goal is that when a painting is finished, it not only pleases the eyes, but it also stimulates the mind and awakens the emotion. Regarding the medium, I have a special connection with watercolor, since it bridges Eastern and Western artistic traditions.”

If you are an emerging artist or a growing arts organization, find yourself a Kyle Stewart and start building bridges to other artists in your area. Stephen’s presence on our board and as second season collaborator has deepened our creative integrity and broadened the scope of our possibilities. You can take home the beauty of his work at each of our concerts as we will be auctioning off the original season poster paintings and selling prints.

As Verdigris amplifies the voices of local artists, we make sure that our collaborators receive exposure AND fair compensation. Your contributions to our second season bring life to these collaborations and invest in the work of local creatives. We’re coming up on North Texas Giving Day and are digging into our own fundraising efforts. If you would like to help Verdigris maximize our efforts on North Texas Giving Day, you can set up your own personal fundraising page with us as your organization of choice.

Check out this season's booklet, designed by Stephen Zhang.

Erinn Sensenig