Before I heard Sonny’s angelic voice and sound of her guitar, I sensed her energy.
And I knew I wasn’t the only one and that something was up when I saw a group of people forming a semi-circle in the middle of the street in downtown Porto.
This young musician captured the attention of everyone walking by and forced them to stop, even only for a moment, to nurture their souls in her powerful presence and art that was being created in that moment, there, with no shoes on, nothing to stand in the way of communication between her body and the city she was temporarily gifting with her music; nothing to stay in the way between her art and the audience that was absorbing it only few meters away.
Something shifted within me when I stumbled upon Sonny Casey that February afternoon in Rua das Flores and I doubt it was only beautiful music (those who know me know how questionable my taste in music, or rather - the lack of the same, is). It was the whole vibe around her, her verses pregnant with stories but revealing only a silhouette drawn in light pencil, her voice dancing with the wind and gently overpowering the chaos and noise of a busy touristic street, taking us all out from our mind races… I simply had to talk to her and find out more. Who is this angel and what’s her story?
I hope you’ll all enjoy the interview with mystical Irish artist Sonny Casey and one day get a chance to experience her live performance! Until then, take a dive into her story and get your own creative juices flowing inspired by this fairy looking goddess.
Hello, dear Sonny! For the start, can you tell us a bit about your growing up in green, rainy Ireland? What it looked like and how do you believe your place of birth influenced you as a person and an artist?
Hello! I grew up in the wild Irish countryside. In a beautiful but very rainy place called Connemara. It's full of fields that are full of rocks that look as though they fell from the sky and it's surrounded by mountains and sea and silence. At night time there's no light pollution so on a cloudless night the stars take over the sky and the moon looks bright enough to burst. I think growing up there has gifted me with this deep-rooted respect for nature and the wilderness. It's also given me this immense love for freedom. Especially as I spent my first 9 years in a small town in England; moving to Ireland felt like being released. We went from having a little patch of grass and a pond, to having endless fields to explore and trees to climb and all this sea to swim in. Now being in nature feels like home. It reconnects me to my inner child. I think that core part of you is also where creativity flows from, so growing up in a place full of space and silence, I think my natural instinct was to create something from the inspiration I found in that. I think nature will always move me to create. I believe the stillness of it gives you the space you need to hear clearly your thoughts, to recognise how you're feeling and why and to create something that reflects those thoughts and feelings. Also all the endless rain we get in Western Ireland really helps set the mood for when you're sat inside writing sad songs and feeling sorry for yourself!
How did you discover you affinity for writing and expressing yourself through written word?
I've always loved reading and writing. Apparently I used to write before I could even write. My Mum said I used to hand her pages full of scribbles as a child and tell her to 'read the story'. Books were my biggest love and as I got older I'd write stories that I'd never finish. I wanted to be an author when I 'grew up'. I've always kept a journal and I'd write down my feelings and little poems and snippets of things people had said that had caught my ears and eventually they turned into songs. I soon realised that writing felt like the best way for me to express my emotions and make sense of my thoughts and myself and the world around me. I also discovered how magical it feels to capture something in words that would otherwise only be found in a memory. I love how you can write a song about an experience or even just a little moment and that sort of makes the transience of it all feel a little bit more long-lasting. I think I just fell in love with words! The way they can be feel so heavy with meaning or light with meaninglessness, how they can be bent and molded into something else and all the endless ways there are to say something.
When did music come about? Do you have any other musicians in your family?
I think music crept up on me slowly without me really noticing it. It had always been there in the background, I just hadn't paid that much attention to it. I had classical guitar lessons as a child but I gave up for years and it wasn't until I was around 14 when I picked it back up again. My family are all big into music, and a lot of my relatives play and sing traditional Irish ceol. When I was younger, whenever my mum and her sister were together, they'd put on all the old records and they'd sing until the morning. I'd sit and listen and occasionally join in. I remember my Auntie once telling me 'sing like you really mean it' and that really hit me. I realised you could convey feeling in your voice and release that feeling through song. Also around that time I was going through a traumatic family thing so that's sort of when music became my escape and something deeply important to me.
Your choice to perform on the streets (and to do so barefoot) is not something we see that often. What do you think singing on the streets gives you that being on a stage or in a studio maybe doesn’t?
For me, singing on the streets feels more natural and I think it gives you more freedom. You're free to play wherever and whenever you want and passersby are free to stop and listen or to just carry on walking. There's an independence to it too, you're not relying on anyone to give you the space to perform. I love how you're not separated from the audience the way you are on a stage, you're all on the same level, there's a closeness and a realness there that sometimes gets lost onstage. I also love how nobody is expecting anything. It's spontaneous. People aren't expecting to hear you and you're not expecting them to stop. So when they do hear you and when they do stop, I feel like it means more. It feels more rewarding because it's not a given that you will have anyone there to listen. I think there's more energy on the streets. They're constantly flowing with people coming and going and that energy is always shifting, so busking can be really unpredictable. You never know whats going to happen. That sort of makes it feel more exciting and mysterious. And in busy cities when people take time out of their busy lives to listen or watch a street performer, I think that's really special.
You perform in lots of different countries and we all know the stereotypes about Latin people being warm and those from anglosaxon countries more distant and cold. Did you have that experience while performing or the truth is actually a bit different?
I think the truth is that no matter where you go , people are just people. Some of them are lovely and warm and unfortunately some of them are distant and cold. I don't think it's specific to one country! For sure though, people are generally a lot happier and friendlier when the sun's shining. But then again I've busked in the rain and snow and met the friendliest people who are so delighted to hear you singing despite the terrible weather so really I have no idea!
What does inspire you and motivate you to continue this journey of travelling, performing and creating? Is there a deeper sense of purpose to what you do?
I think it's the people I meet along the way that inspire me and it's those little magical moments that motivate me to keep going. Such as busking a song I've written and having a stranger come up to me with tears in their eyes thanking for it. Those moments are really rare but really special. As for a deeper sense of purpose, I think ultimately it's connecting with others. When I connect to a song and I sing something that someone can relate to and they feel something similar to what I'm feeling, I feel connected to that person, to myself and to something else that feels bigger than all of this.
Do you believe music has healing powers and it can release hurts that we all carry within?
Absolutely! I think music is like therapy. Whether you're playing it or just listening to it. It quietens the mind and allows you to process things. It's a safe place to lose yourself , to let go of whatever you're holding inside and sometimes share it with others. I think any form of expression is therapeutic, because you're externalising the internal. Singing feels like opening up and releasing any hurt or heaviness into the air and freeing yourself from it. It's kind of like washing all the dirt out of a wound; its the only way the wound will heal and not go all bad and infected!
I always believed there is something magical about street performers. It’s like... I'm running around the town, thinking about million stuff, stressing about doing this and that and if I have enough time and then - BOOM! I hear some soothing tones coming from the side, asking for my attention, pulling me out of my mind’s vertigo and into the timeless Now and even if I don’t stop to listen for a longer time, even those brief moments seem to refresh and repaint my day with a new hue. What it was that initially attracted you to streets and what makes you stick to that choice?
Like you said, I love the way street performers can sort of pull people out of their daily routine and remind them to slow down, that there's more to it than just getting from a to b. There's so much beauty around us that we forget to see because we're just so busy and I think street performers remind us to appreciate that beauty. The city I'm from (Galway) is famous for it's street performers. They always struck me as being these bright, colourful, otherworldly individuals. At sixteen, I remember seeing them and feeling this deep desire to be a part of that world. I never imagined it would be as rewarding as it is, that I'd fall in love with it, focus all of my energy on it, support myself with it, or travel the world with it. When I first started busking, I remember feeling so excited, as though I'd been transformed or something, as though I'd found the path that I was meant to be on. What makes me stick to it is the fact that I know I wouldn't have met all the beautiful people that I've met if it hadn't of been for busking. I wouldn't have seen all the places I've seen and I certainly wouldn't have the confidence that I have to sing in public. I'm so grateful for everything it's given me. Now when I look back, I realise how much my life immensely expanded when I started singing on the streets!
What does a word ‘busker’ mean to you? What feelings and association come up when you hear that word?
To me 'busker' means someone who uses the streets as a stage to share their art. I think of expression, independence, spontaneity, connection. But mainly freedom!
We all feel good when we sing. But many of us never do so, because someone told us at some point in our childhood that we suck at it, so we stopped. Or we sing when no one’s around and when they enter, we shut up ashamed of our lack of skills. But is there more to singing than being pleasant for the ear of the listener, if you know what I mean? What are the benefits of singing to the person who is singing, even though they don’t have any talent?
I think singing simply makes us feel good. It's so pure. And it goes beyond the boundaries of language, it connects people. It's like our natural instinct- you hear a song, you sing along. You feel sad- you sing and your sadness goes. You feel happy- you sing and your joy expands.
What did you like the most about Porto and is there anything you found shocking or surprising?
I love the place by the Duoro river in the evening, when it's all lit up and full of laughing people. I also loved standing on the ginormous bridge and watching the sunset with the whole city slowly lighting up beneath you. I was honestly surprised by how beautiful and colourful and chilled out the city was! I think because everyone goes on about places like Paris and Rome and I'd never heard much about Porto before, but I personally found it to be far more peaceful and beautiful. All the crazy hills were a bit shocking though, especially as I had to drag all my busking gear up and down them everyday!
Do you have any piece of advice to girls wanting to go out to the streets, sing, perform and travel, but are afraid that it is not safe to do so as women?
DO IT. Never let being a woman hold you back from doing something you want to do. The majority of musicians and singers and buskers and travellers that I meet along the way are men and it angers me when I start thinking about it. Because we are just as capable of doing all of those things! Honestly, I was scared at first. Of singing in front of people, of sleeping in hostels on my own, of walking in new cities after dark, but I did it anyway because they were fears I had to overcome in order to do what I love. I think trusting your instinct is the main thing. If a person or a situation isn't giving you good vibes then leave them, get out of the situation. But I've found that travelling alone as a woman; people tend to look out for you more, and the world is full of kind beings too. You just need to figure out who to trust. And seeing as busking is a public thing, there's always people around. You're not really ever alone- there's always someone there who will help you if needs be. As for singing and performing, you just need to go out there and do it! I think the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll feel, and the more you'll find yourself starting to believe in yourself.
Who is your biggest support?
My mum. She's always there for me and whenever I start doubting myself in any way, she turns into this motivational speaker and magically I find myself believing in myself again!
✦ RAPID FIRE ROUND ✦
Ooh I love these questions! I think it's either 'The Journey' by Mary Oliver or 'Listen to The Mustn'ts' by Shel Silverstein. Sorry I can't choose.
3 musical artists you’ve been listening the most during the last month?
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dermot Kennedy and Blanco White
Favourite place you visited so far?
Berlin! (but Porto is my second favourite)
Do you ever get nervous before performing?
Not so much on the streets anymore. Unless i'm in a place I haven't busked before. Or unless there's a quite a lot of people who've stopped to listen. But before I go on stage, I get nervous every single time.
Do you write the lyrics first and then music or the other way around?
Usually the lyrics pop into my head first , and then I'll sing them and try and find the right chords for the melody.
And - I am really curious about this, sorry, but - aren’t you cold without shoes? (It was quite a cold day when I first saw you performing in Rua das Flores.)
I get asked this all the time! I think I've just gotten used to having cold feet now, so I don't really notice. But I'd rather have cold bare-feet than hot sweaty shoe-covered feet!
✦ Follow Sonny and her work ✦
Creations that come through this mermaid-looking stunning young artist captivated me with their uniqueness and foggy, smokey, feminine, emotionally charged atmosphere. Lucia combines photography, simple illustration and collage, transmitting powerful stories in a delicate and simple manner. I had the opportunity to peek inside her artistic mind and find out what inspires her, drives her forward on her creative journey and what she recommend to all those artist in continuous battles with their overactive and judging minds. Enjoy the interview with Lucia Davies-Milner!
Can you give us some insight into your artistic beginnings? When did you first notice the pull towards visual expression and through which medium it occurred?
I think my creativity has always been an outlet for how intensely I observed and felt the world ever since I was a child. I don't think there was ever a moment I became aware of myself as someone "artistic", I have just always been obsessed with how best to express what was in my mind or in my feelings, and it sort of became part of me.
Do you have formal educational background in arts? In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of such?
I did go to Goldsmiths University to study fine art in October last year (2017), and dropped out in April this year (2018)... It was a completely intuitive decision for me. I don't have any opinions on this topic per se, but I really strongly believe in knowing what you want to do with your creativity, and the importance of figuring out what drives you most to go out there and do it. I do have friends at University still who are really finding themselves there and flourishing. It just felt uninspiring to me while I was there, and I didn't want my creativity to stagnate so I left and earned some money to put on my own exhibition; which had been a dream of mine for a very long time.
Even though you are working with several different mediums: photography, illustration, video, combination of illustration and photography etc... your artwork seem to have a unique, recognizable undercurrent. Does that come spontaneously as a result of your authentic soul expression or there’s some deliberate intention behind the works to “go well together” at the end?
Thank you, it is not intentional at all, I think it comes from the place within me which I am constantly exploring - the mysterious unknowable part - and through this wanting to understand, my art often holds a sense of mysticism maybe... I'm not sure.
Do you believe to have “your own style” and if so, how did you find it?
I think style is reflective of who I am during a certain time, and who I am remains a constant discovery, so if I have my own style I think it only becomes apparent to me once I look back on my art work. As people we are constantly evolving and so naturally the style of our work will also evolve. It's not something we cans et out to find, I think it's the result of our inner exploration.
Where do you draw your inspiration from on regular basis?
I think it's hard even for myself to know what inspires me other than a question, or a mystery, or a need to understand or heal something within myself. But, to be a bit less ambiguous, I am very interested in ancient symbolism and also by the natural curves of nature; and these are things I often incorporate in my art.
More and more artists are now being discovered accross social media platforms, such as Instagram. How do you think that influences art world and artists? From one side, it may bring more attention to their work, but it may also put pressure to produce more and faster and to try to please the audience, or at least that’s the way I see it.
I agree with you in both ways. While I am so grateful for platforms like Instagram because of the beautiful connections I have made on there, I think it’s so important to be connected with yourself first and your reason for creating before going into the whirlwind of social media with your art; even with a strong mind it’s hard not to get carried away from your core sometimes. The only real risk I see for creatives is the loss of the sense of wonder in their own creative power, and the focusing instead on their art as a product or an image. This can on the contrary become an asset for those who want to make it into a business, but I guess it needs a balance and again an understanding of your intent. However, I think social media is just highlighting a way of thinking that existed before.
What is your favourite part of the creative process - the birth of the idea, execution or having a finished product in your hands?
The execution is my favourite part, whether it's a long and intense process or a short and seemingly mindless one, the making of each work feels like a journey. I rarely see my artworks as permanently "finished" products, I think that's why I always use mixed media because I love finding new ways of recycling art, and finding how many different ways I can express something.
Is there such a thing as “bad art”? If yes, how would you define it?
Well, I wonder, is there a difference between "art" and "creative expression"? because I don't believe in bad creative expression, only one that is misdirected or misunderstood; but whether there is such a thing as "bad art" I think depends on the definition of art the artist or viewer holds. Either way, I don't believe in the judgement of something as good or bad / black or white.
Do you have experience with “artist Ego” and how do you deal with it in order to remain with your head clear and focused on the creation itself?
I think it's natural sometimes to want approval or to want to stand out more than the other, we are conditioned to be this way, but as long as we have awareness of where this need is coming from it's easy to manage. It's so important to always make sure you understand what your intentions are when creating a work, or when sharing it; this can help to keep your values in check.
Many creatives describe the creative process as “birthing”, bringing a new child to the world and therefore feeling the deep connection even years after they created a piece. How do you feel about that description and can you apply it to yourself, as well?
Absolutely, yes. It depends on what emotional state I am in during the process, like if it's a particularly painful time then I feel very attached and protective over the pieces I have "given birth to" because in a way they were what helped me to heal and they feel very vulnerable. There is often a confusing time after I have completed a work, sometimes the emotions I have towards it are so strong I feel an intense aversion and don't look at my art for days - which is a phenomenon I have read about in some Mothers who want to reject their newborns straight after birth... weird analogy but the comparison has crossed my mind.
Tips for distinguishing constructive criticism from ill-intentioned criticism wrapped in misleadingly intelligent-sounding words?
I think it's a lot to do with how you receive judgement within yourself first. We are often our own worst critics but if we learn how to always see where there is room for improvement in our work without being self deprecating then it's easier to know which outside criticism is ill founded and which is honest.
What drives you to continue creating?
I wouldn't say there is a drive behind it, it's just who I am. I would go insane if I lost my ability to create, it would be like someone telling me not to breathe.
Do you have any advice for artists whose mind gets too loud every time they sit down to draw, paint, write and therefore they keep on postponing acting upon their soul’s urge?
I struggle with this too, and the only advice I have is that sometimes fighting with your mind only blocks creativity further. So, do something else, go for a walk, listen to a podcast, dance, do things that clear your head of expectations and self-made goals; do things that quiet the mind, then slowly let creativity find it's way back out through you.
✦ Quick Fire Round ✦
Analog or digital? Digital
Working in the morning or at night? Night!
Self-initiated projects or commissions? Self-initiated
Song that is playing in your head at the moment: FEELS by Snoh Alegra
Book you think everyone should read: Rumi's poetry
✦ Follow Lucia and her work ✦
There’s a pretty high chance you’ve already stumbled upon Alycia’s magical digital creations somewhere around the internet and social media, together with the word ‘Malavida’ written closeby. I surely did - it was long, long time ago and ever since I’ve been using her mystical abstractions as screensavers and covers, enriching my visual settings with flowy, liquidy shapes expressed through mesmerising combination of colors. There’s something special, pure and direct in the way abstract art communicates to us - or at least that’s my experience of it. Unburdened by the form that immediately invites our minds to jump in and label it, box it and categorise it, abstraction speaks directly to that place within us that knows no words or forms, neither it needs any. When the mind is left out of equation, we get the opportunity to experience art in a deeper manner as the filter is off and the channel of reception remains unobstructed.
I adored finding out about Alycia’s story, where the name ‘Malavida’ came from, how she views her role as artist/designer and beautiful insights she shares on spiritual and psychotherapeutic benefits of artistic expression - whether you consider yourself an ‘artist’ or not.
Enjoy the interview with this fascinating, talented and courageous lady!
To start off at a lighter note… What is your definition of art? :P
I think that my definition of art would be really basic, generally speaking. For me, art is mainly about people creating things via any kind of medium that will help them to represent or express an idea, a concept, a feeling … But at the same time, I think I’m not fond of the way how the word art categorizes creative actions.
Many times in designer realms we hear artists being labeled as “egotistical” or even “narcissists” as the art they produce often doesn’t have a direct serving purpose to the people, contrary to design (at least design in the traditional meaning of the term). Do you believe we can create good art starting from the thought of how the message will serve and enrich people’s lives instead of diving deep and expressing what asks to be expressed and letting the message naturally emerge from the finished work?
As both a designer and an artist, it’s really hard for me to answer. I’ve been trying for a certain time now to incorporate expressive value to my way of designing, according to how I’m working for my art projects. I’ve been really inspired by Strange Design: From Objects To Behaviours lately, and how design could move away from a merely functional aspect to a vision more concerned by creating flaws than modeling practices. Of course, the fact that artists can be perceived as «egotistical» or even «narcissists» could be due to a desire for self-expression. Artists want to express their opinions, feelings, statements … And to be honest, I feel like I’m one of them. We tend to create from a subjective perspective, in a way of reacting to life and to the world, and in a response to an urge and a deep need of expression. I guess that’s maybe why some artists can be perceived as drowned in the ego aspect, but that’s something really common, even if you’re not an artist. There’s ego everywhere. However, when it comes to design, you’re supposed to create for other’s purpose, and most of the time in a functional way. It doesn’t mean that lots of artists aren’t creating from an outer perspective point. There are so many artists out there that are really engaged and devoted to topics that are clearly expressed through an artwork. To me, the boundaries between art and design statements are really thin. Everything always depends on the way you’re setting your expectations and work methodologies on a project. I guess that art and design both have lots of things to learn from each other.
Is there really a single message to a piece of art or there are as many messages as there are people consuming an artwork?
I guess that there’s always a singular and main idea coming from an artwork. But from my personal experience, I tend to think that, in fact, you can always reach new perceptions. Having lots of conversations with people about my work helps me to understand this fact, and I always find it so interesting how everyone is seeing and feeling something different according to their own mind. The fundamental intention of the artwork stays the same, but like everything in life, everything is always nuanced and non-binary.
Can you recall when were you first drawn to visual arts and what it meant to you?
I’ve always been pretty close to art and creative fields, generally speaking. I remember being younger and always go to lots of different exhibitions with my parents and stuff. We were also traveling a lot at the time. I guess that my mind has always been really attracted to new shapes, new colors etc. Before starting my studies in graphic design, I was already really attracted by abstract art such as painting, drippings, geometrical works … It was as usual, pretty subjective I guess. I was feeling something else with visual art, in general. And maybe, because I’m all about listening to my gut, my feelings, and my mind, everything fell into place slowly but surely.
Do you see art as a spiritual practice?
Absolutely. And generally speaking, I truly believe that the creative process is such a spiritual tool. Some people may know it already, but that’s the main reason why I started doing art. I’m really interested in spirituality and psychology, both of them are a huge part of my life. I feel really connected to Jungian therapy, where creative exercises are such a powerful and useful approach. I’m always speaking in a subjective way, so of course, I may not be 100% true, but I do agree on the fact that art can definitely serve self-development. Creating things daily has changed so many things in my life, in my way of perceiving myself and others. It may be because it gives you the passion you were seeking for or because it teaches you things about yourself, goods and bads. But at the end of the day, you can’t deny that you evolved.
Most of the people know you under you Instagram handle “Malavida”. Can you tell us more about how you came up with that name and why?
Ok so basically, this was supposed to be a joke. At the time, I was starting to create daily because I felt the need to express myself, to work on my feelings, mostly my anxiety and depression. I’m always really open about my flaws and about my mental health in general. We always throw a lot of jokes at ourselves with my friends because of the fact that we’re open about our general issues, and that we’re trying to accept things as they are. So making jokes about it, sometimes, helps you to take it easier. I wanted to share my work with others, but I wanted a different name. I wanted to create something like a persona, something able to represent one of the many sides of my personality, without being fully myself. Without, I guess, having to fully be Alycia Rainaud. We just browse for short names that could make you think about the painful aspect of life in an ironical way. One day my friend came to me with this really french play on word saying « J’ai mal à la vie » which basically means my life hurts. And it quickly became Malavida for « Bad Life ». As you can tell from our humor level, we’re not really fun people.
Do you believe artistic expression can be therapeutic even for the people that believe not to have talent for arts?
Of course. As I said previously, I’m really interested in Jungian therapy and inspired methods. The main goal of these practices is to help people on a therapeutic aspect, by leading them into the creative process. They can be based on drawing, painting, writing, playing … All sorts of medias can become a way of expressing yourself. Plus, you don’t need to be an artist to access artistic/creative expression. I truly believe that simple tools and methodologies can make you learn things about yourself, make you click way more easily and have therapeutic benefits. At least it does for lots of people I know, including myself.
“Create before you consume” - what do you think about that one? How much do you consume other artists’ work and does it always inspire you to continue to create more and better or there are also moments of self-judgment, comparison and feeling not good enough as an artist?
This sentence may be true, but because of the fact that these two words are in the same sentence, it doesn’t feel right for me. I can understand the desire of being the « pioneer » of your own work before consuming others creative’s work that could make you lose your fundamental idea. But at the same time, everything is based on an eternal inspiration circle, and in my opinion, it’s a good thing. As long as inspiration doesn’t mean copy. Plus, the word consume might ring true because of the capitalist aspect of our society, but I’m gonna try not to use it in this answer. As you may imagine, as a digital artist, I tend to be really connected, especially on art networks. That’s how I access and discover most of the creative content I like. But of course, the fact that we’re consuming so much and so fast ⏤in this case due to technology⏤, tend to modify our behaviors on a more general aspect. Including the way we apprehend art. My work is mainly exhibited on Instagram, as lots of digital artist out here. That’s how I started, that’s how I discovered lots of my favorite artists and designers. That’s also how I stay inspired, by seeing amazing artworks every day, speaking with so many interesting people and collaborating with talented creatives. Lots of creatives out here are posting new artworks daily, constantly challenging themselves, trying new things. It’s such an inspiring and motivating thing to be part of this community. Most of the artists I’m following are really helpful, sharing and kind people. I always feel amazed by everyone’s work and engagement out here. Being able to access new creative content daily is something beautiful yet terrifying. I guess that as a lot of people but mostly as an anxious and depressed person, a lot of this positive aspect tend to be quickly replaced by doubts, fears, and anxiety. I have never been confident about myself or my work, and I’m still processing it. I’m also really perfectionist or should I say obsessive. Nothing is good enough for me when it comes to work. I know for a fact that this is the case for most creatives out here. I guess that all these amazing and inspiring people indirectly puts a lot of pressure on me. I always tend to think that I should create more, post more, rest less, do something different, try a new style, answer people, do tutorials … And it’s a never-ending spiral. We’re always comparing ourselves, trying to please everyone, trying to reach a satisfactory level and it’s the same for art. I’ve been speaking a lot about it and collecting testimonies from other creatives in order to write an article about all these aspects. Hopefully soon. We should speak more about this reality.
Any tips’n’tricks to get into the creative flow on shitty, dry days?
Honestly, I’d like some tips’n’tricks for myself too. I mean, you can try to overcome this effect, but it’s still really hard to force the creative flow. You definitely can feel when there’s this battle between the fact that you want to, but you can’t. And because any creative practice is directly connected to your mind, both parts need to be healthy and recharged to work together. I’m not talking about procrastinating of course, but if you feel like you can’t do anything, that nothing is coming to your mind or hands, then rest. Do something else, or do nothing. And it’s ok to be that way. Usually, when I can’t create something, I’m trying to wait for a couple of hours or for the next day. There’s a reason if the creative process isn’t popping and I feel like we need to process and accept it.
Do you feel that doing art as a full time job sometimes puts pressure and makes it more difficult to truly let go and immerse yourself in creative process?
It sure is. It’s either a self-pressure, an external pressure, or both. I’ve been doing art/design as a full-time job for six months now, and it really affects my creative process and life in general. Everything tends to be more serious and « practical related ». Mostly when creating becomes directly linked to being able to live your life, make money, pay taxes, rents etc. It’s like still being the same artist, but there’s always a voice in your head that has an influence on what you’re going to create. You always have to keep in mind the reason why you started doing this, try not to lose your identity and own values.
You mentioned in some other interviews gathering your inspiration from hybrid books, amongst other things. Can you explain what are hybrid books and why they amaze you so much?
Besides being a digital artist, I’m still a designer, and above all, a book designer. I’ve been passioned for years and years about books and print design. During all my studies, I always wanted to create books and prints for any kind of topics. Moreover, I wrote and worked on a thesis dealing with books and psychology where I talked a lot about the book’s shape and psyche. So the main idea of the book shape as we know it is often represented as Codex (a book cover with sheets assembled on the inside). It’s still a bit difficult for me to truly define hybrid books, but I would say that they are objects that are consequently trying to take distances from the conventional book shape. Hybrid books can be a good way to enhance contents and user experience by shaping books in alternative ways: sometimes by making them interactive (manipulation, electronic books …), sometimes with pages unsealed from the cover, sometimes augmented … I guess hybrid books really focus on the content/shape ratio. Good examples for hybrid books that I always share because they’re my favorites are either the Volumique Editions projects or the Alberto Hernandez Hybrid Novel on The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Do you prefer to be called designer or artist? Why?
I always have in mind and relate to this sentence from a Vasjen Katro conference where he’s saying «Artists call me designer and designers call me artist». That’s how I’m feeling. The fact is, I’m both. I don’t want or need to choose a side. I always truly believe that the boundaries between art and design are really thin. Would you call a Swiss Knife a Scissor-Saw-Filer-Corkscrew Knife? I’m a person, I can do a lot of things, but at the end of the day, I just want people to call me by name, an identity gathering all these skills.
What are you working on at the moment?
Lots of things. I’m of course working on my daily art posts, some cool collabs and secret projects soon to be revealed!
Do you have any advice for "artists in rising" that want to attract more attention to their work?
It’s always hard to be noticed and noticeable. Make sure to experiment with different medias, try to find your identity, what do you want to say or show. Stay inspired but don't copy. Try to create small things every day to build your own universe and learn the things that you like or not. Try to share your work and talk about it with other creatives, don’t be afraid of asking for advice. But most of all, stay true and listen to yourself.
Can we expect any expositions of your work outside of France anytime soon?
I don’t have any exhibitions planned outside of France for 2019, but I’d be more than happy to!
✴ QUICK FIRE ROUND ✴
Working in silence or with music?
Book that marked you in a particular way:
Strange Design: From Objects To Behaviors
Charles Bukowski - Mind and Heart
Warm or cold colours?
Both but warmer
Favourite music album cover
Tame Impala - Currents
✴ CONNECT WITH ALYCIA ✴
I have been seeing Corina’s mystical, dark digital illustrations all over the spirituality oriented Instagram profiles for a while, until finally my curiosity got a hold of me and I had to find out who was creating those magical astrology-inspired artworks that had some almost “sacred” flavour to them.
Precision and harmony of sacred geometry with added personal touch of a modern female creatrix - that’s how I’d describe Corina’s magical work. I feel so blessed that she said ‘yes’ to sharing some of her story and behind-the-scenes with us and gave us some valuable pieces of advice on how we can continue to grow as creative women and artists, how we can stay consistent in nurturing our Creative Flow, which is never to be taken for granted or dismissed, as it is there where our Sacred Feminine Life Force resides.
Enjoy the interview, goddesses!
For the start, can you tell us a bit about Cocorrina, how it all came about and where the name comes from?
Cocorrina was born in 2012 when I first opened a blogspot blog. It was my first endeavour to get out of my comfort zone and inspire myself to be little more creative. I was born in Russia but at a very young age I moved to Greece and today I live with my husband and son in the Kefalonia Island. I originally studied architecture but very soon I realised that my heart belonged to the graphic design world.
Having taken a few graphic design classes in college, I found myself taking online lessons to learn Illustrator and coding while I was in bed for months after an 8 hour surgery. It was the most difficult but at the same time the most transformative thing that ever happened to me.
Cocorrina today is a design studio / company that my husband and I co-own. Me and my team work on all kinds of projects from branding to packing, website and book design. The newest project I’m working on is the Cocorrina shop where I share my inspiration about the mystical cosmos, magical history and symbols in an artistic way.
While Cocorrina started as an inspirational design blog, it never stopped inspiring me until this day. People have always been a huge part of it, and with their encouragement and love I took bigger and bigger steps with it every year.
Cocorrina is a word play of my name Corina and my nickname Coco.
Do you remember how your passion for visual expression firstly revealed itself to you?
Everyone around me knew I'd become an artist since the age of 5. I would express everything I needed to communicate with others in artistic way. Whether that was drawing my thoughts or creating collages. I was always better with explaining myself through art rather than words.
What about the practices and rituals that help you enter that "flow state" while creating - do you have some of your own that you follow?
My mind is all I need. Everything I need in order to get inspired and get the creative juices flowing is already in me! All I need is to visualise what I need to work on, get into that mood and by designing I get more and more inspired.
Give us a little insight into your creative space! Silence or some background music? Cozy home environment or among other people? Crystals, candles, essential oils or something of a kind?
Always home alone, with candles and preferably a relaxed background music. Something mystical and oriental / ethereal. Low lights, a few sparkles and stars here and there. I love my space to feel like a magical altar to make me feel special and sacred.
There's always so much talk about "creator's block". Do you think we should fight it and push through it or instead surrender and trust that there's a divine timing for everything?
I find myself having a creative block only when I'm not creating enough, or when the project just doesn't inspire me. For the second one, I do my best to ask the right questions in order to avoid not working with people who are not right for me. As for the creative block I don't usually have them these days. I feel that the less time I have the more methodical, productive and focused I become, and time is a rare thing these days. I simply don't have it! The times I've found myself in a creative block however, I always needed space. Take a walk, watch a movie, think and do something else in order to get back to it later and think differently about the issue.
As we all know, everything in this Universe goes through cycles and so does our inspiration. How do you deal with ebbs and flows in your creative journey?
Honestly I always go with the flow. I feel like if I push myself too hard then I'd just burn myself and feel distraught about it. Always go with the flow and listen to the Universe.
Where do you seek inspiration when you feel your "juices go dry"?
Old books of magic ahah or just look around me! We can find inspiration in the simplest things. From a squiggle my son drew on my desk or a weird looking cloud on the sky. The more you create the more you are inspired and your juices never go dry. The more you think and observe and fill your head with creative ideas the more you want to put them into art.
Are you of belief that ideas have an intrinsic value to themselves or it's just through channeling them into the physical form that they gain value?
That is a very interesting question. Can i answer both? I don't feel like all my ideas need to take a physical form in order for them to exist. But at the same time I always have that itch where if I don't put that idea into a physical form then it will feel like I never experienced it and it will slip away.
What about self-doubt and fear of putting your work out there? Do you have some experience with that?
It never existed. I started at a very young age (20 at that time) and I opened a blog named Cocorrina on blogspot and just like everyone with zero followers. The blog was a way for me to be inspired by others and to show my works and I was never shy about it even if it looked hideous and experimental. I just wanted to put it there and be better the next day. I haven't stopped since then, almost ten years now.
Do you have any advice to young artists hiding in their cocoon until reaching "the point of perfection" (or more accurately - their idea of what that is) before showing their work to the world?
Don't do it. We never will feel like we will reach the point of perfection. Art isn't about being perfect it's about how it makes us and others feel. So you'll never create any emotions if you don't share your work with the world. Every day will make you feel less perfect and more authentic and happy.
Seeing the process of creation as a birthing of a kind - do you feel you have an emotional connection to your previous works?
Nope! I'm a very emotional person -being a Pisces- but I'm more emotional with memories and relationships and kittens and puppies rather than physical things. I could throw away my most treasured object in a heartbeat and I feel the same way about my previous (personal) works. I do love them all and remember all the memories and phases of my life behind them, it's like a photo album of my life. But at the same time I'm not emotional at all. They could seize to exist and I'd be happy for everything I've learned and gained by creating them.
How would you distinct art vs. design and do you feel that drawing a sharp line between the two creates unnecessary separation and tension in the art/design community?
Yes. Art is art. I could put a rock on top of a feather and feel like it's art. Again, it's how it makes me feel and the emotions/thoughts it will create to others no matter the form or the tool. If it makes people wonder how a rock balances on a feather or if it makes them feel awe that it defies gravity then to me that is art.
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For the end - what would be your advice for a young artist struggling to find their own personal style?
Create more, create daily, experiment and go through aaaaall the different styles that are out there. Look up to designers that you like their work, observe their work and experiment, experiment, experiment. I had to go through so many different aesthetics in these past years that i feel that i've done it all until i found what truly makes me happy and express in full everything that i feel inside me.
CURRENT FAVOURITES LIST
movie / The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
song / Soft Universe
book / Journey of Souls by Michael Newton
crystal / Amethyst
quote / “Why, sometimes I've believed as many
as six impossible things before breakfast.” - Alice in Wonderland
✦ CONNECT WITH CORINA ✦
My first encounter with Ameya's work was across her recognizable thick line on black background illustrations. Little did I know at the time that this Goddess does much more other than painting and drawing: she writes, sings, makes beautiful videos and photos documenting her travels around the world, and her Celestial Calendar for 2019 that includes all the major astrological events in the upcoming year has been the absolute hit on Etsy lately! As various as her creative outlets are, Ameya's passion and curiosity for spirituality, astrology and dreamworld is what kept me close to her work for such a long time and I cannot describe the amount of excitement I felt when I got the chance to hear Ameya's own view of it all - how does she do it and do it so damn well,
what pushes her and where she finds the inspiration and drive to keep on creating when the road gets tough...
Enjoy the interview with magical Ameya!
For the start, can you tell us the meaning behind your intriguing, mystical-sounding name?
My name, Ameya, means limitless. I liked the idea of calling my brand/business 'Ameya's Realm' because it's like infinite realm; a place encompassing my wonders in all creative forms. I also feel that creative expression is a magical and transformative act, which almost takes me to another world. Hopefully it takes people who view and experience my art to this world or 'realm' as well.
Can you recall the first memories of you being drawn to the artistic expression and in which form it occurred?
This is more likely a story told to me by my parents rather than a memory, but when I was about 2 years old, I was given the creative freedom to draw over an entire wall in my house (which I think I extended to more walls). I'm so grateful for that opportunity because I think it really helped me feel free and limitless in my creativity. I'm so lucky to have always been encouraged to create and express myself artistically.
You are a visual artist, musician and writer. How do you choose a form in which you want to express a certain idea or feeling - does it depend on the idea itself or you’re going through different periods in which you feel most drawn towards a certain form of creative expression?
I definitely feel drawn towards a particular art form for a period of time, then feel drawn to another. For the past decade, I've kept switching my focus between music and visual art, as I personally find visual art and music more expressive than writing. However, after feeling inspired to create a book last year, I have been writing a lot more. As I mentioned earlier, I tend to use art, in all forms, as a way to transport myself to a particular location. With visual art, that is often to the clouds, ocean, mountains and outer space. With my music, I feel that to be to a forest or night drive. So the way I express what I feel, depends both on the idea and what sort of location I feel like being taken to.
What inspires you? How do you get you “cup filled” on daily basis?
I am inspired by so much! I look at things in detail and I'm filled with curiosity. Specifically, nature, outer space and the connection between seemingly separate things inspires me most. I love combining things from the earth, like people, animals, plants and flowers, to things in outer space. I am in total awe of the silence, void, scale and mystery of space. It also really gives me perspective and I love creating and sharing what I feel from that.
Do you believe that there is such a thing as “good” and “bad” art? Or is what we call “bad” art just something that didn’t come from a true, authentic place?
I honestly believe everything is art. No matter what it is. Everything that exists is intrinsically beautiful and spectacular, just by being. There is so much intricacy in every thing. And people see this beauty in different things, and however they express it is therefore also beautiful. It doesn't matter what it looks, sounds or feels like. It is art. I don't necessarily think there is good or bad in anything, it is what it is, and it is up to us to decide the worth and whether we like it or not :-)
How does your cretive process look like? Do you wait for "the call of the muse" or you sit down and use some of the tools and techniques to put yourself “in the zone”?
As I find inspiration in so many things, I tend to have a long list of art ideas and projects to work on once I've finished what I'm working on at the time! This means that I'm not usually waiting for inspiration or thinking too much about what to create. No matter how busy I am with one thing, I always keep an eye out for inspiration and ideas for more projects to add to my list. It doesn't seem to take much for me to be in the zone – I'm always in the mood to create!
Are there any days that the flow is simply not coming and if so - what do you do? Do you think it’s better to surrender and wait for the better moment or forcefully push through?
If I'm not feeling it, I just give it a break. It's not often that the flow isn't coming so the times when I am struggling a bit, I know that it's better to just do something else and come back to it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind.
What is you favourite part of the process? The start - the excitement of the blank canvas and the potential that lies within it; the middle - the deep immersion and surrendering to the flow, where all time and space cease to exist; or the end - when you can see the physical manifestation of what once existed just as an impalpable idea?
Each part of the process is special, as you've described. It's hard to choose a favourite but I especially love the beginning stages of a creative piece or project. It's such a great feeling to be super inspired and have the time and freedom to physically manifest the non-physical ideas in my mind.
How about sharing your art on social media platforms? Do you ever feel resistant to it or stumble upon some self-doubt and fear of how the piece is going to be received by your audience?
I make sure I don't worry much about how my work is received on social media. As long as I'm happy with what I've created, that's all that matters at the time when I share it. I have also found that I'm sometimes surprised by which pieces become most popular on social media and on my Etsy shop. I know that if I think too much about how my art is received, the work will be less authentic and natural.
You recently published your first book! Tell us a bit about it! How was the journey and what’s the feeling of being a published author?
It was an amazing journey and it still excites me so much when I pick up my book (and realise I created it) or see others reading it! It all began last year, during my gap year. I was living on the other side of the world, away from family and everything I was used to, which was an incredible opportunity to travel, learn and develop myself. I became very in touch with my creative side during the year; painting, drawing, singing and for the first time, writing with the intention of sharing. I didn't have to think about the title at all. 'Let Go' came before almost everything I wrote in the book. I kept writing my thoughts during my gap year, and edited and wrote the rest of the book in just a month after I came back; January this year. I was very inspired and dedicated to this project and spent every single day of the month working on it. The editing and formatting was the toughest part and almost took longer than writing! It was amazing to share this creation with the world. It's pretty much my journey so far of becoming more in touch with my self and understanding life and the universe. I am so grateful that in this day and age, it's possible to publish a book yourself through a website. I encourage anyone and everyone to bring your book to life. It's a reasonably straightforward process and a very fulfilling one.
I am completely in love with the idea and the design of your Celestial Calendar for the upcoming year! Talking about that, how did you first become interested in astrology and in which ways your knowledge about it influences your art and your day-to-day life?
Thank you! Honestly, I know very little about astrology. I haven't really looked into it, but I have always been fascinated by everything to do with outer space! The calendar shows the astronomical events of the year – the idea came from just wanting a calendar like this myself. I found that I was always searching up what events were happening in the sky. Celestial and lunar events influence my art constantly, simply by being so fascinating to me. It gives me so much perspective and reminds me how crazy it all is... we are on a rock, floating in nothingness, around a giant ball of gas, with a smaller rock floating around us. You'll find me gazing at the full moon and then just spending a couple of hours completely in awe of life.
✦ RAPID FIRE ✦
Favourite part of the day / Morning
Favourite crystal / Hard to choose! Labrodorite, Amethyst, Moonstone, Celestine, Clear Quartz
Working in silence or working with background music/sounds? Usually in silence... but I also love nature sounds and music that suits the vibe
Dream-place you’d like to visit / Jupiter
Book that influenced you in a profound way / The Untethered Soul, The Eye of the I, Power of Now
✦ CONNECT WITH AMEYA ✦
I've been stumbling upon Rachael's vibrant, dreamy collages all around the Instagram times and times again until I finally decided to look up who the heck was behind those beautiful images that simply radiate words such as feminine, divine, empowered, sensual, aligned.
There was something about those compositions, colour combinations, astrological motifs and postures of the women she chooses to use for her work that connected and resonated so deeply with me. Needless to say, I felt over the moon blessed when I got the chance to have a peek inside this brilliant woman's mind and soul and see how she comes up with such magical creations.
Hope you'll enjoy and get something out of this interview with lovely Rachael Day!
Hello, Rachael! For the start, can you give us a brief intro on how you first discovered your passion for visual expression?
I've always been creating and exploring different art forms, but this specific path started because I was doing freelance graphic design for various clients. While completing projects for other people I would get ideas for things that didn't fit their branding. So I started to explore those visuals on my own and just make things for myself. Along the way it's kind of developed into what it is today, but I'm constantly looking for new ways to progress and up-level what I'm doing into something greater.
Do you find it easy to "enter the flow" and create on daily basis or you developed some kind of practices that help you get started on those days when you feel uninspired?
It's not easy for me to create every day, if I'm honest. Haha. Well, in some ways yes it is. I can always sit down and make something. But to create work that's up to the standard and quality that I hold myself to and want to put out into the world, that happens less frequently. When I'm uninspired or feel like I'm not creating very good work, I usually just step away and do something else for a little bit. I think, music is really the only ritualistic thing I have or tool that I use to help me create or to get into a certain headspace.
How your passion and interest for Divine Feminine first came about?
I've struggled, and still struggle, a lot living in this world that's so fully saturated with imagery of women that are constructed through the lens of male desires. I'm not surprised that the content of my art ended up being about portraying women from a more feminine perspective. It's therapeutic, and I think I needed that.
What does Divine Feminine mean to you and how do you embody it in everyday life?
Divine feminine to me means defining yourself and your life on your own terms. Whatever that looks like for you. Not feeling like you have to live up to anyone else's idea of what your role in this world should be. And analyzing deeper and deeper why you are the way you are, and figuring out what parts of you actually feel true and what feels learned. I embody this in my life by trying to learn more about myself everyday, by the choices that I make, the career path I've chosen, and the art that I put out into the world.
You are mainly known for your beautiful, strong, colourful digital collages. Did you experiment with other techniques and how did you decide which one is "yours"? Do you think it may change in the future?
I definitely have experimented with other art forms and techniques. I have a bachelor's degree in art, and the college that I went to had a great program in that they encouraged us to try everything. So I feel like I got to dip my toes in all different types of art. Before this I spent a lot of time doing trippy, abstract paintings and I try to subtly incorporate that into my collages sometimes. I feel like I landed in digital art making because developing those skills and doing graphic design felt like the safer career path when I was graduating. There's lots of thing I can do in photoshop and effects I can get that you can't recreate with physical art making. That being said, I do greatly miss getting my hands dirty with paint and I'm 100% open to some crossover in the future.
What do you do on regular basis to keep your "creative juices flowing"?
I listen to music all the time while working and it's a great source of inspiration. Sometimes I'll listen to the same song on repeat while making a piece because I feel like it has the right vibe that I want to recreate in collage. I also like looking at art history and pulling from the richness there to help create depth in my work.
Do you have any advice for young (and old) artists who struggle to find their niche, being it regarding to the subject of their art or the style they want to create within? Having said that, do you think there's necessity to adopt a particular, well-defined style of our own and stick to it religiously?
I don't really think you have to find 'a style' or 'your style'. I think that helps the viewer more than the artist, honestly. I feel like it's easier for an audience to digest and relate to your art if they can put you in a box because you're consistently creating one type of work. So yeah having a style has some pros, but it can also be really crippling for an artist that's just starting out to feel like that have to find that thing that they do that makes them unique. It can be quite paralyzing. And also for a more developed artist that then becomes afraid to break out of that style and try something new because it doesn't fit their image. I think all that matters is that you pursue that creative instinct and explore wherever it takes you. No direction I've ever tried to push my art in has amounted to real growth. That just comes organically. Your art will develop however it's meant to develop.
Do you think artistic expression may benefit women who are not naturally "artsy" as it forces you to drop into your soft, intuitive, feminine side?
Definitely! But really I think anyone can benefit from being creative. I've felt soft and intuitive while making my pieces, but also strong and empowered that I'm creating something all myself. It forces you to let go and release any notion of control or expectation. And it's also just a way to explore your own psyche and understand your mind on a deeper level.
How to you deal with taking it personally when your art stumbles upon rejection or incomprehension? Does the detachment me vs. my artwork comes with time or it's something we need actively to work upon?
Sometimes I definitely do take it personally because my art feels like it's made up of all these pieces of me. But, if it's constructive criticism and could make your work better, then you have to be honest with yourself and open to hearing that. At the same time, you can't control anything or how people will receive something. I think you just have to find a balance that works for you and know that you're not going to be for everyone and that it's fine.
What is the most valuable lesson you learnt through regular devotion to your creativity?
To always be open to learning and progression. And if you start to feel comfortable making what you're making then it's time to try and add in something new or take that next step.
Other than through art and creation, what are your suggestions on stepping into our Divine Feminine archetype on regular basis?
To pursue whatever it is that you want to pursue. Focus on you. Dedicate yourself to helping you grow into the person that you want to be and getting what you want out of life.
And for the end, if you don't mind sharing - what is your biggest goal regarding your artistic career?
Just to continue developing and getting better. And to be able to completely support myself with my art.
✦ RAPID FIRE ✦
Favourite Crystal / Rose Quartz
Favourite song at the moment / I'd Rather Be With You by Bootsy Collins OR All I Need by Radiohead
Working in morning or working at night? Both, whenever creativity strikes.
The most empowering woman on Planet / At the moment I feel like it's not any one woman, but rather women as a collective and the empowering changes that are happening.
Analog or digital? Currently digital