When did you start making art?
I remember when I was a kid I was obsessed with comics and cartoons and I would draw some of my favourite characters in my own style, however for most of the time I just kept those drawings for myself. At one point me and my brother decided to draw our own comics with our own superheroes which was so much fun. We would draw for hours and we even made up our own storyline for each character. I guess you can call this art, even though at that point I did not necessarily consider it art. Later on, at school I did not really enjoy traditional drawing classes and I found it less engaging to capture objects, people in a conventional way. My other passion has always been music; I found so much joy in playing instruments - piano, later moved on to the harp - which is essentially what I ended up studying at university. I enrolled into music college which I eventually left after a year of studying. I did not really enjoy the traditional approach of music college, either. After this point I had a few chaotic years, which was full of uncertainty and self-doubt which is when I reverted back to drawing and started experimenting with painting. I only did this for fun for a couple of years, I'd say that the disciplined and structured creative process only started around 2020.
Tell us a little bit about how you came to make art?
Growing up, I was always surrounded by creative minds, my dad was a wood sculptor and my mom had an interest in many forms of creative self-expression. I always knew that I wanted to do something artistic, however I spent quite a few years with trying to figure out what would be the best option for me. I had a few challenging years when I was struggling with anxiety and dealing with grief and I was reading about art therapy when I decided to buy some art materials and just started experimenting. In the first year or two nothing I painted seemed right for me, but slowly I started to develop a style which gave me more confidence. I only shared my work with my family and close friends at the beginning, however in 2021 I created an Instagram account where I started to share some of my workwith a much wider audience. I am still grateful for this platform, it enabled me to reach much more people and I've made some really amazing and incredible connections through this app.
What is your approach or process towards painting?
I've tried different approaches, however I still don't think I've mastered the secret recipe. Many people ask me whether I plan my paintings in advance. I do have sketchbooks and notebooks with ideas and rough sketches. What rarely happens is that I have an idea in my mind which would completely manifest itself onto the canvas. Yes, certain elements of an idea will appear on the surface, but making a painting kind of feels like a murder mystery to me. What colour should go there? Does that shape or pattern excite me or does it need additional layers? Does anything have to be removed or toned down? Is it enough? Is it not too much? Endless amount of questions. Weirdly, after a certain point you just come to the conclusion that the painting is finished.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
We are surrounded by all kinds of stimuli so it is not really hard to find inspiration nowadays. I've always loved travelling and exploring different cultures so that has always kept me inspired. I am very much influenced by literature. I am also a huge fan of journalling; I enjoy writing down random things I've learnt, things that motivate me or stuff that freaks me out. Going to galleries and museums is also a great way of keeping yourself motivated. A nice film, a thought provoking book or a great song can stir up all kinds of emotions in me which might result in a painting. I like to transform emotions, I'd like to think that I just unconsciously filter stuff through myself that results in something compelling on the surface I am working on.
What do you aim to communicate with your work?
Art is a great tool for starting conversations. I've always thought that titles are extremely important, choosing the right title is often really daunting, but once you've got a match, that's always an uplifting feeling. I don't want to tell the observer what to think, what to feel - that is definitely for them to figure out. What I can do though, I can ask them questions through my art. What has always interested me the most is the human condition, I often ask myself what we're doing here, what is this whole thing that we call life? In general, the majority of my characters are going through some kind of change, be it physical, emotional, spiritual or dimensional. Transformation is a key element of my work. Through change, my work explores depth, enthusiasm and spiritual radiance.
Who are your favourite artists?
I've always found it hard to choose favourites, I think it really depends on my mood. There are some artists whose works I always find engaging and fascinating though. I guess if I was forced to choose two, I'd probably say Paul Klee and Henri Matisse. Recently, I've been really into the paintings of Frank Auerbach, Armen Eloyan, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Miriam Cahn and Tal R. Also, I remember when I was a kid we used to have a series of books about artifacts from around the world and I quite regularly found myself on looking at them. I am still really much inspired by folk and tribal art; I think art in its purest form can express true emotions in a delightfully honest way.
Take us through a standard day in the studio for you.
I just moved studios recently, I've been lucky enough to acquire a space at the Brighton Art Space which was just founded recently. Upon arrival at my studio, I usually go through my sketches and ideas which always helps to get those creative juices flowing. Choosing the right colour palette is also a crucial element of my routine, although many times I just apply colours straight from the tube, I also find it important to mix my own colours; the endless array of ratios and combinations always blow my mind. I have an obsession with hues, I can just simply get lost in them. I usually start my paintings with applying layers of paint onto the surface in an intuitive way, I want to ensure that at this point I am not judging anything, I do not even consciously think about what is going on. Rotating the surface is also an important element of my process, I let my imagination dictate; it almost feels like the Rorschach test. This is the most challenging, yet most rewarding part for me. Once I get through this, there might be a few difficulties ahead, but that is the final phase which is always more structured and disciplined. I also need to admit that many times I am just present in my studio, I'd either listen to some music or a podcast and just be there. I think it is important to have a routine and to push yourself towards your goals, even if you're not feeling on top of your game. However, on days like this, it is absolutely fine not to create anything, to be just surrounded by your work and your art supplies which can easily lighten up your mood.
Is there anything you'd like to explore in the future? New mediums or new themes?
I've actually been interested in printmaking, I've watched quite a few YouTube videos on it and it really fascinates me, so I've been thinking about taking a short course on it. It looks like something I'd truly enjoy. In terms of themes, I am starting to be more interested in abstraction. I think of myself as a figurative painter, however I can easily see myself just working with shapes only rather than actual figures. I think this might be a natural process, but I am always really mindful about not forcing myself into any direction, if it happens, it happens. I'll allow myself to just go with the flow.
You can find more of Soma's work @visions_from_the_hut