Print: MCW x Sofia Fitzpatrick
Print: MCW x Sofia Fitzpatrick interview
Sofia Fitzpatrick is an Australian artist who specialises in wearable art; focusing on wax carvings. Her creations involve bespoke jewellery for men and women that is both raw and handmade; each piece bears the imperfections, cuts and nicks of its custom creation to stand apart as unique wearable art.
Sofia’s works have seen her featured in reputable publications such as Skull Style; Skull Style features works from over 100 of the most influential artists and designers of today, as well as Rock Star Chic: The dark side of High Fashion. Sofia has also been showcased in a number of exhibitions and collaborations that has seen her gain international recognition for her raw & beautiful skull inspired designs.
“Creativity is something you feel in your blood. It’s how you see the world, the way you see light, composition and colour. Creativity is an extension of self expression”.
At what age did you discover your creative side?
I was born into a family of creatives; from both my mother and father’s side. Creativity is in my blood.
From as early as I can remember, I could hold a pen and this is where I started to draw and create. When I left school at 16, my first job was illustrating history books for 3 years. After that job, I began collaborating with my grandmother (who was an artist); Dawn Fitzpatrick, who worked on fabric art based projects (specializing in patchwork hangings).
I moved overseas and was working as an artist making hand painted tiling for a few years; creating drawings free hand and using the tiles as my canvas which I loved. Once I came back to Australia, I was at a stage in my life where I was trying to find my way and make a living as an artist. It took me a few years of ‘feeling lost’ and not knowing, to finally achieving fulfilment through my art.
And how did your journey into jewellery making come about?
My wonderful God Mother had terminal cancer and at the time, she encouraged me to start making jewellery. She believed it would be a perfect medium for me to channel my creativity into something that I could potentially make a living out of. I’ve been making wearable art; specifically skull jewellery ever since. It’s been 8 years now!
Do you remember the first piece you ever created?
Yes of course. The first piece I ever made was called ‘Love me I’m in your head’ skull ring. It is still to this day one of my most popular designs.
What materials do you use?
I work with silver, gold and brass.
Briefly describe your process from concept development to completion?
As I work from my home studio, my process consists of 3 stages. This encompasses starting with the carving/sculpting with jeweler’s wax on the piece I am working on; either a ring, brooch, bracelet or pendant. Once I’ve completed the sculpting of the wax carving I take it to the local caster to have the mould made.
At this point, the mould that is made of the wax carving has a negative cavity of my design. This is then cast in silver, or what ever alloy I am using to make the piece. Once picked up, I take it to the home studio to file the sprue off the piece and use a 3 step polishing sandpaper process that involves a dremil tool.
I oxidize the piece by painting on the solution which takes roughly 15 minutes. Once the piece turns a black colour, I wash the solution with water and dry it. Finally I apply the polishing wheel to give the work a high shine but leaving the cracks of the carving in its raw state of black which enhances the details and design of each piece.
What inspired you to start using skulls in your artwork?
Skulls can represent both creation and destruction, yet to me they have always had a positive meditative influence, like a mandala.I was drawn to carving skulls particularly because they have such a calming and powerful effect on me.
What is the first thought that occurs to you when you see an image of skull?
Skulls intrigue me! The skull is a truly beautiful object that once contained and encompassed a unique and individual universe within its walls. It’s not the heart, but the skull that is the true vessel of the soul.
There are so many people obsessed with skulls today and designers from all forms are marketing this symbol in their product lines. What do you think is the reason there is something highly provocative about skulls?
Fashion has a love and obsession with rebellion and rejection of conformity, always wanting to push the envelope. Even the more conservative fashion houses want to feel they have a piece of that rock and roll glamour and the cult of celebrity causes those entranced by fashion, art and design to feel more connected to the artist and trends that inspire them.
Skulls are a mirror to our fate and immortality… your destiny awaiting you with no escape, the empty eye sockets evocative of the vastness and uncertainty that is our eternity after death. There is something very provocative about that.
What is the message you are wanting to convey through your works?
I’m expressing myself creatively, that’s my primary objective. I create things that appeal to my imagination, hopefully other people will also like my creations. Through my work I want to inspire in others a sense of freedom, beauty, rebellion and strength… to be unique, live life to the fullest and to enjoy the time we have on this amazing, beautiful journey.
The skull guitar pendant for example represents the freedom that music brings into our life. Music is immortal where we are mortal. It lives beyond the death of it’s creator.
The Love Me I’m In Your Head skull ring is a piece to remind us to love ourselves, and what is – literally! – in our head, a naked skull will perpetually be representative of mortality, and yet it is the fundamental architecture of the human form. This skull ring represents my own personal crusade, to dispel some of the negative connotations.
Do you believe that the negative connotation behind skulls has changed?
It has changed, skulls are now part of mainstream design. There is a unique and individual skull behind every living face, the skull is the base to what makes your face beautiful… People might say, “oh what beautiful cheek bones” when they look at a striking face… I always think to myself, “oh, what a beautiful skull that person has”.
Why do you think that skulls are synonymous with rebellion and mystery?
Western culture has often viewed skull imagery as threatening and menacing. Hence, the skull image has been used by those not wanting to conform, as a rebellion and expression of freedom from conservative thinking.
Skulls have an aura of mystery because one tends to reflect upon ones own mortality. When looking at a skull it can be difficult to not wonder who that person was. I contemplate who it belonged to and what sort of life they lived, it stirs within me a sense of my own impermanence yet also inspires the desire to take control of my own destiny.
What are some of your passions outside of designing? How do they inform your designs?
I am deeply passionate about art and music. Art has always been a huge part of my life; I come from an artistic family, a long line of creatives. Ever since I was a little girl I have been surrounded by art. My apartment is a testament to this as the walls are covered with inspiring works from my friends, family and my own paintings. I surround myself with art.
Music heavily influences my life and my art. I feel that the music feeds into my work. Whatever it is that I’m listening to inspires my mood and my work. When I was little my father loved Rock & Roll, Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin and so on, whilst my mother’s taste leaned towards classical music. My grandfather, her father, playing lead french horn in the Swiss orchestra. My mother also listened to a lot of jazz and reggae so I feel that I had a wonderful introduction to music from my parents.
Where do you believe the most inspiring work is coming out of at the moment?
I find anyone that’s is working hard being creative and putting their work out there for all to see very inspiring. My mind is always blown away by the art I see from all over the world. I’ve discovered many artists from browsing on line that are making amazing work! The internet is so useful aside from cat videos It’s a great tool to discover art and find new upcoming inspirational artists!
You’ve had a number of achievements from exhibiting at the 110th Anniversary for Harley Davidson event as well as the 30th Anniversary of the Screaming hand. What do you consider to be your largest to date?
I had a unique huge exhibition at the Ivy curated by Carolina Malz in Sydney, Australia. It was amazing! The Dark Hawks played, the Burlesque dancer Legs Eleven did a show. It was an open bar with hors d’oeuvres. Killdie and I painted the staff as skeletons. Pentagon candle displays on tables, skulls everywhere and an art projection was projected on a big wall that director Johnny Welch and I made together. It was a work called corps. A stop motion image of my face turning into a skull.
My skull jewellery was displayed in glass cabinets it looked like a pirate treasure trove full of the things I surround myself from my home. The jewellery was displayed on bones and all sorts of treasure objects. Killdie also had his sculptures on a wonderful display. It was rock and roll! There were over 400 people who attended and the positive feedback and response was amazing. Words can’t even express how much it meant to me as an artist. It was a very surreal experience.
What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?
Creativity is something you feel it’s in your blood. its how you see the world, the way you see light, composition and colour.
Creativity is an extension of self expression.
What advice would you give upcoming artists wanting to enter the jewellery making business?
My advice is to not overwhelm yourself with what’s out there.
Just make stuff from within! Don’t follow the rules with design. You can make what ever you want. Don’t listen to people that try and drag you down by telling you don’t do this or why are you doing that.
Listen to people that are positive and people that can give you tips on how to help you create your vision. It doesn’t mater how crazy or off the wall your designed and ideas are, if you believe in what you’re doing then there will be a tribe of people out there that will believe in you and love what your making.
People love people with passion for their work. It’s infectious and inspiring! You will be surprised how many people will want to help you and guide you along the way.
Start small! You really don’t need many tools to start making jewellery with the lost wax technique. I taught myself how to make jewellery and I just made it up along the way and learnt from retail and error.
But for people that don’t know where to start there are a billion YouTube “how to” videos or go do a short jewellery making course to teach you the basics!
You have your own signature style, what would you consider to be your ‘Creative way’?
Stylistically my work is bold, raw and primal.
I like to maintain the flawed surfaces and marks created during the carving process as opposed to finely polished commercial designs. Perhaps this is the defining difference that sets my work apart from other artists. I leave the pieces battered and scarred with imperfections. I also like my pieces to have weight and substance to them. That’s what I consider to be ‘my creative way’.
Check out more of Sofia’s works at: http://www.sofiafitzpatrick.com.au/