This week I had the profound pleasure of interviewing Sonia Hupfeld-Cousineau, an emerging graphic designer and all-around creative. She chatted with me about getting down and dirty with new mediums, inspiration, and constantly pushing creative boundaries.
1. What/who do you find to be your biggest source of inspiration?
Everything around me. That is, to say, I’m a bit of a collector. In a world sense, I like to keep my eyes open for anything and everything that strikes me as interesting or that could become a project and I collect them through photos, sketches, what have you. In a personal sense, I am incredibly inspired by all of the talented individuals I have the pleasure of calling friends -- I used to be envious of people who were more creative/talented/imaginative than I was but I have since turned that envy into motivation (or… I’m trying to, haha).
2. What's your favorite medium to work in?
Ah, favourites. Favourites are a tricky thing and I don’t particularly like them. I enjoy almost every medium I can get my hands on! I suppose the mediums I have worked most with are digital and paint. I am a huge fan of vector art and acrylics are my go-to for painting but I also enjoy watercolour. Oil is still a bit of a mystery to me.
3. Any new mediums you're itching to try?
Wood! I am fascinated by the multitude of ways you can create something from wood, from traditionally practical items to more sculptural items. I am especially enamoured with pairing wood with other materials such as acrylic/resin and metal. I also want to get (back) into sewing! I think this will be a much easier medium to try, but I hope to get started on both within the year. Also, one day, I’ll find a way to try my hand at molecular gastronomy.
4. What would your dream project be?
Oh, wow. I suppose my dream project would be to work on something big/awesome with friends from different disciplines. Maybe the project would actually be like… a studio, really. And we could also have a small kitchen/cafe where we create delicious food. We would have the ability to cater towards multiple clients as well as having the space to work on personal projects while being in the company of each other.
5. Describe your studio/workspace. What would you change, given the resources?
To be fair, I don’t really have a set studio/workspace yet. I’m slowly finding out that I like to have the ability to work in different spaces, depending on the mood I’m in or the project I’m working on. My typical “at home” space is made up of two desks, a computer, prints on my wall from other artists, and a mess of materials that really need some serious organizing. That’s what I would change, I think -- having a system of organization what worked well. Plus more plants.
6. Do you like to warm up before drawing? If so, what fun exercises do you work on to get in the zone? (ex. Noun generator, word games, etc.)
I can’t say that I really do any warming up before I start on a project. I suppose it could be getting myself in the right sort of mentality if I’m in it for the long haul, and maybe even figuring out where I’m going to get started (sketches, research, et cetera). I really do enjoy listening to music, though, and for daily practice I try to do a variety of sketches/ideation/doodles.
7. What do you find to be the most difficult part of being a professional artist?
Since I’m fairly new to the pairing of these two titles, I’m still learning how to overcome some hurdles. I think that the most difficult part is knowing how to maintain your professionalism even if your client is not maintaining theirs. I also try to keep myself balanced and make sure to make room in my schedule for my personal projects, otherwise stress become a very unwanted and unwelcome guest.
8. What's your favorite thing to draw/paint/create?
In high school, I really enjoyed painting the night sky (or sunsets) and very macabre/memento mori style creatures and objects. That followed me into my first year of college for a while but then I started branching out. Now, I try to keep myself open to trying new things. I may get stuck on a theme for a while -- flowers, bees, greeting cards, weapons -- but I try to move on before I become bored with the idea. This way I can come back later and continue or improve upon what I had before.
9. How do you prevent/combat artist's block? Do you have tried-and-true methods of nurturing your creativity?
I don’t really believe that there’s just one (or many) ways to prevent or combat artist’s block. I used to become very stressed and frustrated with myself when I couldn’t just do. I blamed myself for failing to put ideas to paper. However, I’m learning that creative blocks will happen, and sometimes you can overcome them and sometimes you need to step away and do something else. It wasn’t until I saw Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk, “Your Elusive Creative Genius” that I started thinking this way, and it certainly has helped me to maintain both my sanity and my love for my craft.
10. Just for fun: Dragons or unicorns?
What about a Dragorn? Unigon? I think that the hybrid between the two could either be very awesome or very terrifying (but definitely unusual). If I were to pick one, I would probably pick unicorns. Yes, dragons are amazing and can fly and are covered in scaly goodness (plus, who doesn’t love Dragonheart?) but Unicorns don’t burn down entire villages, are made of sparkles and have healing powers.
11. Best advice you have for emerging artists?
First and foremost, don’t set ridiculous expectations for yourself -- you’ll only get stressed out and end up not working on anything for many years.
That being said, do have faith in yourself and strive to become better. Look to others for constructive criticism and listen. Yes, it may sting and yes, you don’t have to agree with everything someone says, but it will help set you towards goals you may want to achieve.
Third: get your hands dirty. Don’t let someone tell you that you have to pick one thing and one thing only to be good at. Try everything at least once, and if you love it -- run with it, but give yourself the opportunity to still try other things.
Keep your old artwork, it’ll show you just how far you’ve come.
Last, it’s okay to love what you do and what you’ve created. Yes, “we are our own worst critics” but be proud of what you do and what you make as it is a product of your self.
You can view Sonia's online portfolio here: http://cargocollective.com/sdhupfeld
You can also follow her collective studio, Marshmallow Dumpling Studios, on Facebook.