Artist Interviews 2022

Sofia Bonati  
By Julia Siedenburg

Sofia Bonati is an amazing artist that creates incredibly lively portraits. Her focus lies mostly on female characters. Some are inspired by people that are known figures such as Zelda Fitzgerald and some are just visions that came to her. She was even commissioned by Sky TV to create a piece of a Character from the show Westworld and there is no doubt that there will be more great requests for her to come!

The born Argentinian that now lives in England does impress with her use of color. And when it is not a color that she uses then she lets them shine with gold leave and black light paint. I definitely cannot get enough of these gorgeous drawings and I am beyond happy to be able to share some more insights on this artist’s inspiration and background with you. So please, dear reader, enjoy our interview below!

Your pieces are mesmerizing and each is so unique. How did you get the idea to focus mainly on women’s portraits?

It wasn’t something that I planned, or a breakthrough moment, It kind of organically happened as I started to fully focus as an artist. I used to paint all sorts of topics and styles.

Some portraits are based on or seem inspired by historical figures like Zelda. Others seem to be based on dreams or maybe memories. Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you choose your subjects and color palettes?

Sometimes an image appears in my mind out of nowhere and sometimes I see another artist's artwork or a photo or the colors/patterns on a person’s clothes walking in the street and I get inspired. I also love being around nature and usually I take photos of flowers and leaves that end up in my floral backgrounds.

A handful of pieces in your current catalog show men. One showcases a character from the TV show Westworld. Why were these an exception? Could there be more known TV and movie characters in the future?

The Westworld character was a commission for Sky Tv, hopefully, I get to do more of these in the future as I really enjoyed doing them.

You were born into a family of artists. What kind were your parents making and how do you think it shaped you as an artist?

Both of my parents started their careers as creatives in advertising agencies, then my father focused on horse oil paintings and my mother in children's book illustrations and storyboards. My mom always painted (and still does) voluminous women portraits that have some surrealism on them, so a bit of that and my father’s love for nature may have influenced my art…sometimes I wonder if my art is too similar to my mom’s or I have the doubt if my pieces are really mine or if I should try something totally different just to detach a little bit. Does this make sense?

Tell us a bit about your childhood and upbringing in general.

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of memories of my childhood in general, I was always very introverted (and still am). But I do think of my summers in Córdoba (a province in central Argentina) as the best times. We had a house by the river in the middle of the countryside. We spent the whole summer there and I remember building houses in the woods with my brother, swimming and looking for stones, horse riding with my cousin, stargazing, picking wood for the stone oven…. I think those days were the most influential on me. I always loved drawing but I was afraid I wasn’t good enough to make a career out of it.

Has your style or portraits changed when you moved from Buenos Aires to England? How does your place of living/your surroundings influence you as an artist?

I think so, yes. Every time I visit an English park or garden I have the need to draw and paint all those greens and colourful flowers. Having nature around is calming and inspiring. It’s very different from the urban surroundings of my hometown.

How is your experience working with additional materials like gold leaf and glow-in-the-dark paint? On what criteria do you decide whether it will get one of those specific additions added?

I have some special fascination with glow-in-the-dark things and colorful lights at night. I’m always amazed by the glowing. So when I discovered glow-in-the-dark pigments I had to use them in some of my pieces, I have to stop myself from using them in all my work - haha. I used to use gold paint instead of gold leaf. Although the process of applying it is more complicated, I prefer it as I feel it generates a more intense piece.

You tend to work with a variety of different papers. Could you tell us the reasoning for why you change between a canvas, hot pressed arches paper, or different Hahnemuhle paper?

I almost always used the Arches hot pressed paper as I really love how the pencil shading looks in it and is also perfect for watercolour or inks. I used to paint with oil on canvas when I was in Buenos Aires but when I moved here I never had a proper studio so I couldn’t fill the house with the intense smell, especially with my kids around. I recently started painting with watercolour and inks on canvas and I love it, you can do things that you can’t on paper and I wish to continue exploring that medium.

Are there any materials or additions that you want to try out but haven’t yet? Have you ever thought about making yours as NFTs?

Yes! My artworks are almost always very planned and neat and even if I try to be more spontaneous and messy I can’t. So one of my goals is to try to have more fun and less fear of ruining the piece and try to do more layered painting with pastels, inks, gouache, or different brushes.

I thought about NFTs, but to be honest I don’t fully get it. It sounds a bit like a scam, to be honest. I’ll probably never do it.

What is next on your list? Any art shows or any specific goals for the future?

Now that all my 3 kids will be at school I’ll have more time and I’d like to focus on having my art exhibited in galleries.

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