God, train rides, fabric, atmosphere, messed up teeth, music, thrift stores, hockey, clowning, eyes, feet, Tim Burton, poetry, humans, rust, Yann Tiersen, family, aliens, creepy twisted characters, silence, shadows, toothpaste, Edward Scissorhands, hobos tramps and bums, ties, hair and finger nails, film, Ramen Noodles, open mic nights, trees, the movie Harold and Maude, pretty faces, picture frames, hippies, paint, light, puppet dolls, sunflowers, Edward Gorey, orange bikes, my boyfriend, children, socks, the band Animal Collective & Explosions in the Sky, reflections, movies that make you want to go insane after watching them and right side of the brain stuff and buttons all keep Sophia Rapata’s thoughts flowing and continuously running on a daily basis. Her sole purpose was to create art for those in question about life as a whole. To create art for those who have never seen the other side of the world, for those who can’t understand why art is art, for those who think life is a bitch, and for those who appreciate individuals for being individuals.
Theatrically eerie, colorfully new and angelic, creepy contrast, ugly, emotionally blurred, stories of false truth, passionate, artistically nude, annoying, and beautifully dark. Sophia Rapata has heard it all. The description of her work can not be categorized in just one word or phrase. Being left speechless may be the only response to give when asked about her type of work. The 22 year old, Chicagoland native has been producing alluring work since she was in high school and has not stopped ever since. “I think I was born with a set of kaleidoscope eyes. Growing up, I’ve tried to look through them as if they were clear glass. I wanted to see what everyone else saw and how they saw it. I wanted to be normal. Then I realized, I should just look at the pretty colors,” said Rapata. Her charisma to succeed in art did not begin until her senior year in High School but having a close relationship with her mother was her reasons of experimenting and becoming the person she is now. “My mama got me involved in every activity she could think of. I didn’t like this at the time. I didn’t like being the only girl on the baseball team of guys who were all years younger than me. It was embarrassing. Eventually I just didn’t care anymore about embarrassment. She taught me to be
Mama knows best
Most parents try to get their children involved in most extracurricular activities but most of the time children back out or quit. In Sophia’s case she took advantage of it and analyzed each one. “I got involved in everything I could think of, only this time because I wanted to. It wasn’t so much about what I did, it was more about how and why I did it. It was for self expression. I danced, acted, played sports, made music and short films and it wasn’t until the last semester of high school that I even thought about taking an art class,” said Rapata. She enjoyed her new way of self expression so much that the idea of going to college for art came about.
Talents of a true artist
Creating sockface dolls, stories, illustrations, and taking photos all sum up Sophia’s ways to create art. Her artwork can be seen at local galleries, cafes, and even online. Her humorous ways of talking to people can light up a room and make you believe you are in your own dream. “As an artist, I illustrate using mainly watercolor & ink to create multi-leveled twisted characters. These beings are usually costumed with odd outfits or anatomically altered to suit their personality. I figure, if you want to see realist folk, look at your neighbor, but if you want to see dreams of fairytalesque individuals living in broken factory lands, look at my sketchbook.”
Her passion to develop art is a talent that she is still unsure of and has yet to figure out but she explains why she prefers not to work for art but rather work at a place that has nothing to do with art. “I’d rather do something mindless, like hanging up clothes or sewing buttons. That way I can think about whatever I want and come home from work and do it. I don’t want to make art my work. Art is too precious to me. I wouldn’t want to feel bitter about it in any way. Some artists can get rid of the passion and just think about the technical for a moment to make money. I don’t believe I’m the type of artist that should do that.”
“I have some kind of talent that I don’t fully understand yet, but I know it’s not only about what I draw, paint, or photograph. It’s the feeling I create in people. I try to pull out hidden emotions from the inner part of the childish soul when people look at my work. I love watching other people add to this fantastic pot of passion with their reactions. I chose to use art to bring out that passion.”
“This is only the beginning. The surface of the iceberg. I have so much more to learn, so much I have yet to understand and probably never will. Only God knows what will become of me.”
Just as her sock doll figures are made, her drive is made out of the same fuel of energy that allows her to create such tremendous work and that is why many referred to her as a true artist. While most art is not taken as serious as other careers, artist like Rapata refuse to agree and say art is the easy way out for any career or degree. “Not everyone can make good art. That’s why you need a special person who can make special things look the special way you want. Art is a very serious and tough career. It’s everywhere. Turn on the television. Drive on the expressway. Open a magazine. Eat cereal. Every product has an artist working on it. The product gets the attention, not the artist. Consumers and everyday people look past the art. People don’t think anymore. They see something and think it just magically appeared there somehow. They don’t ask questions. Someone had come up with a pleasing way of showing a little bee character fly around and drip honey all over cereal.” (Honey Comb Cereal™)
“In school, Art was a fun class to take, not one of the important classes like English or Math, so I can see why it has been looked down upon as a career choice.
But in fact, art is a very difficult career. An artist has to use their mind and make decisions all the time with every step they make. People think if they see someone draw, it’s because they want to draw, not because they have to. Therefore, they figure artists should make art for little or no money since they’re going to make it anyway, or since it’s what they love to do. Artists need to get paid for their work just like any other job. If you get something you should give something in return. It’s only fair.”
Sophia’s other hidden talent is her photography. Many believe since she received her degree in Illustration she may know little of any other classified art but indeed she and others rank her photography as one of the best around. Sophia uses different lights to create dark and fantasy like settings to have models and sometimes even herself pose under. Her camera, notebook, and pen are handy 24/7 to capture any small glimpse of a possible photo with potential. As many freelance photographers are evolving the many critics are out there saying that it is a job that is not that difficult to do, but Sophia begs the differ. “Almost everyone has a camera now-a-days. People take pictures on their phones and upload them online like nothing. But just because one takes photos doesn’t mean one is a photographer. Good photographers know what they’re doing with the camera and why. Just like artists, they know about composition, color, & lighting. It may take hours to get a good photograph and some people will look at that photograph and think to themselves, “I could have taken that.” But they don’t take into consideration the preliminary aspects like the preparation or years of schooling or even give credit to the photographer for the initial idea.”
“The past few years I’ve surrounded myself with artists. I’ve conversed with people who understood what I meant when I said shutter speed or ink wash. Now when I’m with people who know nothing about art I get frustrated. But I have to remember it’s not their fault. Not all people get art. I don’t get math, but at least I appreciate it and know it’s importance.”
Many artists have varying opinions about how to go about becoming an artist or seeking art as a career. Sophia’s idea of creating art is as simple as this, “Don’t do art unless it pours out of your pores. Sophia’s art may not be simple, but her advice and words can be as simple and clean to the truth, as can be. She is a straight-shooter and hates to talk in public but will explain how she feels about art and of course about herself within her art.
“Be apart of everything. Meet everyone. Put your art in a gallery, and then another gallery and another. Keep doing this. If you’re like me and don’t like talking to people. Just pretend you’re in a play and you have the part as the outgoing confident artist. Because in this world, if you want to sell junk, you have to be able to talk to people. It’s not that bad. If I can do it, you can do it or at least try.
Make art how you want. Make what you feel you need to make, not what you think others want you to make. You’ll never win that way, and if you do it’s because you’ve cheated. Be true to yourself. No one could ever be as good at doing what you do than yourself. Never stop learning. Pay attention to all the details around you .Store it in your mind for later use. What damage does the weather do over time to the paint on a white picket fence? Never be comfortable. Be productive. Collect, document and imagine.
Just because someone gives you their opinion doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s just their truth. Find out for yourself and come up with your own assumption. Get a journal and write down your ideas. If you die, at least the paper will know what you were thinking.
If you would like to see more of Sophia’s work or even purchase some visit her website at
or find her on facebook.
You can also find some of her art work at the Paul Henry’s Art Gallery in Hammond, Indiana.
416 Sibley Street
Hammond, IN. 46320