After two years, Stephen couldn't take the stripe paintings anymore and escaped into the real world, determined to try and make a living somehow doing the kind of work he really wanted to do. After a short stint as a display assistant in a department store, he stepped into the Aesthetic Void, floundering around for a while on the fringes of the (at the time) moribund comic industry. Then he landed a job with the Shirt Explosion, a small start-up company, doing designs for T-shirts – this was a truly great job, because no one had any idea what they were doing, so they tried everything that seemed like a cool idea and ended up producing some surprisingly good designs.
Stephen always wanted to paint paperback covers, ever since he first saw the beautiful Krenkel and Frazetta covers on the Ace re-print editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs in the mid-60's. So in the midst of the T-shirt designs, he worked up a portfolio of pictures, which he took around to publishers in 1975, and he sold the printing rights to two of his folio pictures to Ace Books. The Big Break came when he was commissioned to do a cover for The Brain Stealers, one of the classic SF reprint series Ace was issuing at the time. Stephen has been painting book and magazine covers ever since, as well as calendars, postage stamps, sculpture and the occasional private commission.
Stephen currently lives in the scenic Hudson Valley of New York State with his wife, Vicki, his daughter Zara, and enough pets to make sure there is animal hair in every picture he paints.