Circle Of Inspiration // Sofia Rene
Sofia has built such a uniquely creative platform in a short time. Whether it's creating album covers for musicians, or creating a personal piece, Sofia draws inspiration from music, traveling and the art community. We sat down with Pia to talk with her about her creative process.
You are a very talented painter and designer, when did you know that this was what you were going to be doing?
I’ve been a creative individual my whole life. Since I was a kid, I was never good at sports. Art was always very natural for me. When I realized that I was skipping actual art classes to go make the art I actually wanted to do, that’s when I started taking it seriously. I was taking drawing classes and was like “I don’t want to do the work you are telling me, I want to do what I want to do”. Students in that class were BUYING the art that I was making. (laughs)
And after working different jobs, as a waitress and at a retail store, I just realized that I didn’t want to sell other people’s things. I thought “I am making them so much money, I can do this myself.”
What is the thought pattern behind your creative process? How do you create on a blank canvas? Do you go in with a specific outcome in mind?
When I am creating for myself, I try not to think too much. One time I did a painting off of a hair dryer. I liked the way the light was hitting it. It changes every time. I know that sounds strange (laughs) It always starts with music somehow. When I hear music, I see colors and frequencies.
I don’t draw anything out. I literally just start picking out colors based on what I am hearing or feeling, sometimes it’s just a vibe and I go with that. The painting morphs itself.
I try not to have any limitations or any expectations on what this piece needs to be, or who it needs to be for. When I am doing a commission for album artwork, I start listening to their music and just do what my muscles, brain and the vibe tell me… while keeping in mind what they are going for.
So, It’s kind of both.
So you listen to an artist’s music to draw inspiration for their artwork, and then you let your muscle memory take over from there?
Yeah, when you get used to drawing something over and over, your brain starts to know how to do it without looking at a reference. That’s something very key about my artwork. I don’t use any references. I don’t sit and look at a picture. That’s how you develop a personal style. When people see my work, they know that it’s from me.
Yeah, you do have a very unique style that’s easy to point out. When you are doing something for yourself, do you ever feel like there is a moment of completion? Or do you look at your work and think “I can continue to add”?
(laughs) I never feel like its actually done! When I look at paintings from a year ago, I think “I could’ve done this and I should’ve done this”. Taking breaks during painting is very important. I definitely have over-worked paintings. I get sucked in and want to keep adding and adding – when I should have taken a 20-minute break and come back to it. Sometimes I should have waited a day to come back to it and look at it with fresh eyes. But, I think your spirit tells you when it is done. Also, deadlines! (laughs) When you are working with other artists, it can’t just be about you.
What makes you feel like the best version of yourself when you are designing ?
Isolation. (laughs) I like being by myself. When I am creating, I don’t want too many opinions on my work. Being completely by myself is where I draw all my creativity from.
Is there a physical place that you go to draw inspiration?
Yes and No. Isolation is important, but anywhere out of the norm can be inspiring. Like, I have bought a train ticket to New York and literally went to New York City just to walk around. Even a drive, 30 minutes outside of where I live, can be inspirational. I always try to go somewhere new and meet new people. People are so important and so is learning about other cultures. So, yeah, being new places. Even being here! Like, I haven’t been to this rooftop. It’s inspiring in it’s own way. I don’t like too much of a routine.
I dig that.
If somebody was just starting out, what advice would you give them?
I love this. In many ways, I think of myself as still starting out. I look back and I think “I just accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Other times, I think “I have so much to do!”
Just Create. Do not care about what anyone says. People would tell me “You have to go to school, you have to wear this. You have to get a degree.” I was like, “No. I don’t have to do any of that. I don’t have to make anyone else happy. People who are hiring me are coming to me for my artwork.”. So focus on that. Be genuine. Be genuine. You don’t have to be stuck up. Be Genuine and Just Create.
Stay Positive. As artists and creative individuals, we have an energy inside us that people are automatically attracted to. Everyone is going to tell you “not to do this” and to do it their way because that’s THEIR version of success. You have to get in the zone and tune that out, or you will not make it. You have to be like “I don’t care”. So, Don’t Care & Create.
And absorb. Absorb, Absorb, Absorb, as much information from other artists, people, places, food, smells, music… absorb like a sponge.
I told you to not care and then I told you to absorb (laughs). It’s a balance that you have to find. It’s finding your identity. Don’t care about other people’s opinions, but you need to love the world around you to take anything from it.
Yeah, just continuing to grow. There is so much to learn out there from other people. Why not take in as much information as you can.
This is a full circle moment for me because I remember being 19 siting in Malibu with huge-name artists. Sitting in houses overlooking the ocean with all this glitz and glamor, and I’m just a 19 year old from the Midwest and I was asking these same questions. That’s what gave me the energy and the confidence to even start.
One of my favorite music artists is a little bit older, and is in the rap game, and he said “It’s like you are in a boat in the middle of the ocean and your boat gets a hole in it. Everyone around you has a hole in their boat. And you have a bucket, and you have to keep bailing the water out of the boat or you will sink. If you keep looking at your neighbor, and you are focusing on what they are doing and THEIR method, you are going to sink. You have to keep your head down and stay focused.”
Success takes work, it doesn’t just happen!
Right, it IS work. But when it happens, that moment, feels like magic. Like, “Really? I’m the weird kid who dropped out of art school!” It feels like magic.
It’s a mindset. Nobody can rock with you as an artist unless you rock with yourself.
That’s something that I learned from Ocean Alexander. When we first met, I was asking him questions about how he grew as an artist. He said “You have to be all balls on the table”. It’s so true. You have to say to yourself “Yes, my art is dope!” I used to be too afraid to call myself an artist. When I lived in LA I was too afraid to call myself an artist. I didn’t even bring paints because I was too afraid. Fear is a bitch!
It Is. Self-confidence only happens after you allow yourself to be exposed and to be vulnerable. That’s how you learn. That’s the only way. You can get all the advice in the world, but you have to take that first step by yourself. Having confidence within yourself permeates the room. People will see how much you love your work just by your energy.
Yeah. I believe in manifestation because it’s my greatest tool.
You HAVE to be vulnerable as an artist, because your work is vulnerable. I try to talk about things that are important. I try to talk about struggles that I go through and to be open. The goal for me is to heal people.
I think Heart On My Sleeve really matches that energy with me. You guys are building something much greater than just being a brand. You are involving other artists.
It’s our job as artists to bring culture and new perspective to our communities. Especially since I have had the opportunity to travel. When I realized that, so many opportunities started to open up.
Agreed. Creativity and Art helps bridge the gap between communities that didn’t know they had so much in common. We all have a lot in common, we just gotta sit down at shoot the shit.
Photography by Maranda Ashley
Love the journey of following your heart and pursuing your passion. Find out more about Sofia’s work and upcoming shows @pia.rene and don’t forget to share YOUR story with #iwearmyHOMS