Cult&Rain Presents #makecultrain Interview Series 2, with Artist Sophie Sturdevant.
A Yoda-like creature told me “It’s all about the art, man”. Ok, Ok ….I get that, but what else, c’mon there’s gotta be more to it? I replied. “Just add utility and community and you’ll crack it”…..damn, that sounds pretty easy, I thought. Two months later, I was wrong in so many ways! Yoda was right about one thing, the #1 priority is keep your authenticity, art and creativity at the core. And with that said, I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Sophie to represent this sentiment and thinking.
At Cult&Rain we believe Artistry, Culture and Community must always outweigh the transactional aspects of the NFTS and crypto. Although flipping and trading are essential to collectibles culture, they cannot be the only thing that drives a project. We’ve all flipped and traded Sneakers, art, cards and vintage T-shirts, I get it. And so, what makes this different? NFT’s are grounded in something invaluable and irreplaceable: long-standing rewards and enduring benefits that are human and meaningful. Much more than a generic financial gain.
We are grateful to Sophie (and Sean, who you’ll meet in the next interview edition) for their incredible contribution and trust in us. Sophie’s creation for Cult&Rain is down-right dope. It’s so cool, colorful, vibrant and full of life. We all love it, and it looks so cool as a physical luxury sneaker. We can’t wait to show you….VERY soon.
Last week, I sat down with Sophie to talk creativity, process and art. It’s lively, honest and real. Actually, its really quite beautiful how Sophie frames up her thinking, process and passion for what she does.
Enjoy the read. I did.
CuLT_maKr — How would you describe yourself and what you stand for/believe in:
Sophie — I’m an abstract analog artist navigating — sometimes clumsily! — through an ever-increasing digital world. (I can’t believe that I’ve found myself this deep in NFTs, especially as someone who still reads the newspaper on Saturday mornings.) I like the juxtaposition, though, and think it fuels my creativity. I stand for Creative Responsibility, which is the understanding of our weight in history as the artists telling the stories that will shape this generation’s identity. I believe that, as creators, we should make work for ourselves, first and foremost, and do it with all abandon. I stand for authenticity, for experimentation, for intentionality, for longevity. And, finally, as a woman artist championing marginalized artists (especially women and artists of color), I stand for undervalued and underrepresented voices in both the traditional and NFT spaces.
CuLT_maKr — Was there ever a defining moment in your childhood that shaped your journey into art:
Sophie — I grew up with an artist mother (and grandmother, and aunt, etc; much of my family is creative), which I’m so thankful for. She’d take my little sister and I to Aspen Groves in the fall to paint the leaves as they turned colors; one Mother’s Day, in particular, she took us to the botanical gardens to paint flowers. I was probably 6 or 7. She shaped so much of my perspective as a little girl, and instilled in me a love for art and creativity and wonder. This was defining in terms of my identity, but if you’re looking for one moment in particular, it would have to be my art submission to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver, CO. I submitted work for the first time, at 5, and won, and that helped to solidify my understanding of self and validated my claim: “When I grow up, I want to be an artist.”
CuLT_maKr — And when did you decide you were all in? Was there a defining moment?
Sophie — Though I’d wanted to be an artist since I was young, I let the dream sleep during my high school and college-age years. (I’d kind of been beaten into the idea that “artist” isn’t a sustainable or respectable career, and studied business marketing and communications instead.) In the few years immediately post college, though, I found myself desperately needing to heal from an abusive relationship, sexual assault, eating disorder, and body dysmorphia. I had no idea how to really be inside my body, and to engage with my femininity, and to be proud of my womanhood; I felt foreign to myself, which is a really lonely place to be. It was at this time that I picked up my pencil and started drawing again — focused on the female form. I dove into figuration, attended figure drawing classes, and discovered myself again through the process of drawing the body (and appreciating the bodies I was drawing). At the time, art was my therapy. It was how I came home to myself again. I hadn’t intended to become an artist or sell my work, as it was purely for the purpose of healing, but I had a few Instagram followers reach out interested in purchasing my work. One of them wrote to me, after she’d collected a piece: “SOPHIE!!! I’ve been wanting to text you a thoughtful response to express my love for your gorgeous art. THANK YOU SO MUCH for creating pieces that somehow make me love my own body more.” And another, around the same time, wrote: “I love how your work isn’t the smooth “sexy” lines that are so frustratingly common and how your work actually feels like how women (or at least for me, not to speak for others) see and inhabit our bodies.” See receipts. As soon as I had clients able to put language to my artistic purpose better than I could, I was in. And there was no going back.
CuLT_maKr — I was reading in one of your medium articles that you believe in building or creating aligned to your own values, desires, and vision for your life; then what you build you will love and be proud of it. I love this, can you talk more about why this is so important to you:
Sophie — Yeah! I think a lot of people see art as “crafty,” or “excessive” as opposed to historically and socially significant. But it is. We understand history through the lens of the art created during a particular time (for better or for worse), and I understand my significance as an artist during this time — especially as we make the journey from web2 to web3. So, on a macro level, it’s critical we build the world we want to live in without looking at the blueprints of history as a guide. We want something different; we want to see artists paid and creativity valued. We want to see underrepresented artists winning, and winning generationally. It’s terrifying to blaze forward without a path, but if we stick to our guns and make decisions based on our uncompromising values, we’ll see a more unified and thoughtful humanity come of it. In order for this to happen, it has to happen on a micro level, too. If I want to see something change (i.e. women artists making as much as their male counterparts), then I need to commit to elevating my fellow women artists and making the best f*cking work you’ve ever seen, even if just to be considered a qualified player in the game.
CuLT_maKr — I loved reading your personal constitution- it was so insightful but made so much sense. Tell me more about what this entails:
Sophie — Thank you! I believe you’re referring to this, which is like my “rules for living,” kind of. Loose rules, to help me stay the course. I don’t write resolutions, but I do have these 10 pillars to measure my decisions, thoughts, and intentions against. I’m really interested in personal development (always reading, always taking an online program (LOL), and always working through my mess while making art), and my personal constitution keeps me grounded as I grow.
CuLT_maKr — In this new world of web3, what are the big lessons you’ve learnt around NFTs:
Sophie — NFTs have only emphasized what I previously believed in: Creative Responsibility. I’ve learned I can only make my best work when I’m taking care of myself and prioritizing my mental health. I’m obsessed with NFTs and the NFT space (ask literally anyone that knows me) and have to forcefully tear myself away from the screen sometimes, but to be on AND creating 24/7 is unsustainable. NFTs have taught me to believe in abundance, to experiment fearlessly, to commit to my craft above all else, and to relax sometimes. I’ve missed out on cool drops and collaboration opportunities for not being online, and I’ve had to let that need to be part of everything go. Rather than just trying to keep up, I’m happiest when I’ve accepted the wins and the losses.
Something that’s important to note, too, is that NFTs have helped me to break through my tendency toward perfectionism. My growth is literally on the blockchain — documented forever. Early sales and early style, out there for everyone to see. Unlike Instagram, I can’t go archive old work that no longer represents my story or my skillet. I’ve had to unlearn that artistry is perfect; true artistry is everything but.
CuLT_maKr —— What brought you to saying yes to work and create a unique design for Cult&Rain:
Sophie — George’s commitment to authenticity was what hooked both Sean and I. He was direct, transparent, thoughtful, and strategic, and that’s seriously all we can ask for in a potential collaboration. It was an easy decision knowing the team is for artists and for the community.
CuLT_maKr — Can you talk about your creative process, where is your starting point and how do you get to the finish line?
Sophie — My creative process is so non-linear, and there is absolutely no strategy. I may have a vision or a dream about a new piece or project, which will help to kickstart the process, but at a certain point, the piece takes over and decides what it wants to be. As long as I stay open and honest, it usually turns out having done its job better than I could have.
CuLT_maKr — Tell me about your artistic creation for Cult&Rain. What or who inspired you when creating your art:
Sophie — My C&R skin is a great representation of my style called SuperStacked. Lines ++ layers and lots of ’em :)
I also focus on the body in much of my work, as I mentioned earlier, so the majority of what makes up my skin are hands and feet, which are some of my favorite parts of the body to draw (they’re weird and expressive and beautiful and just. so. human.). The smile is my little PlusPlus (eyes crossed through and an open mouth), a distorted version of Harvey Ball’s original smiley face. PlusPlus is woven throughout much of my work — sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle — operating as a signifier: “Sophie was here.”
CuLT_maKr — — What are you most excited for in 2k22, web3, NFTs and or the metaverse:
Sophie — I’m most excited to look back on this time. It’s insane. Every day I think, “what alternate reality did I catch?” because I feel like this is a strange parallel universe and I’m here by accident. (But in a good way!) I’ve been taking a lot of polaroids and Sean and I bought disposable cameras to keep in the studio just to document our processes. And this life, happening right now. I can’t wait to look at these photos and think, “I’m so proud of what I did and how I grew as an artist” and also “what the f*ck was I thinking?” Ha! I know it’ll be both, but that’s the beauty of creating with abandon. And without a roadmap.
Contemporary line artist Sophie Sturdevant interprets the woman's experience through a minimalistic perspective…
Cult&Rain Genesis drop launches February 2022.
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