I’m always on the lookout for fresh color palette inspiration, for work, our various home interior projects or even just lazily scrolling my feed, dodging mosquitos in our atrium after a long day. I suppose Instagram analytics would tell us everyone throws their likes at blush pink dominant, rainbow bright posts, and so many accounts are starting to look alike as they try to woo one hashtag or another (guilty). So when I came across artist Sophie Klerk’s Instagram, her work’s subtle authenticity captured me immediately. Her process-rich collages are layered, tactile and easy to get lost in, but most I love her use of color: layers and layers of creams, ecru, and white, or clean pops of citron or poppy in a nest of pale grey. I feel so honored to have a chance to share Sophie’s interview with you on her art, living all over the world, and her inspiring take on social media marketing.
Berry from Trial by Inspiration: How did you get your start in collage? Has it always been your medium of choice?
Sophie @sophieklerk: I have always been known in my family to have a passion for arranging, rearranging and putting things together. When I worked as a graphic designer, I discovered that my favourite projects were designing book covers. I am intrigued by the relationship between colours, texture, and shapes and instead of illustrating other people’s stories, I build up stories in my compositions. The layered and stitched-together collages create contrasts that evoke echoes of the past and present.
TBI: You’re Danish, currently live in New Zealand, and have resided all over the world, tell me more about your journey. What drew you to Wellington, New Zealand?
SK: I was lucky and privileged to grow up in a family who loved and was able to travel, so from an early age I was exposed to new places and cultures. When I was living and working in London, I met my husband Julian who is also a restless soul and loves to travel. First, we explored Mexico together and, after a few years living in Denmark, we moved to New Zealand with our three young daughters. We felt it was time to move on, and it was a way for us to be closer to Julian’s family and to discover a new, exciting part of the world. I’ve always felt that being a foreign bird is freedom from having to fit into a box.
TBI: I am so inspired by the color palettes in your collage work, from the playful, unexpected combinations to the tonal, subtle texture play. Where do you get your color inspiration?
SK: I am definitely drawn to more subtle colours and tones which might have something to do with my Nordic background, personality and moods. I also cherish the faded, old and broken – There is a natural colour palette that fits into that World. I have never been afraid of mixing colours and textures, and because I work very intuitively, I allow the unexpected to emerge.
TBI: In your work, are you more rewarded by your creative process or the end product?
SK: For sure the creative process – I am intrigued by the uncertainty, the challenge and the process of art-making. Once I am at the final stage of a project my head is already thinking of what to do next. Perhaps each artwork can be seen as a pit stop in my personal journey.
TBI: How does marketing your work play into your process? Does promoting on Instagram and elsewhere come naturally or have you had to develop it? Is it challenging to remain authentic to your aesthetic on a platform that is driven by “likes” and “followers”?
SK: A friend convinced me to use social media, which was not my preferred choice to begin with; social platforms made me feel very exposed and nervous. I also used to be much more private about my artwork, but slowly I realized how inspiring and useful sharing and being part of a larger community could be. Instagram is a great place to share and network with other artists and potential clients whom I would otherwise never “meet.” However, if you start to care too much about who and what people like, it starts to work against you. As an artist, I have to stay true to myself – sharing is NOT about pleasing other people.
TBI: Do you have any tips on how to get unstuck creatively, when you can’t find your muse?
SK: Accepting the fact that you are stuck and uninspired and allow it is the first step, sometimes I leave my studio for a few hours or days to reboot. Remind yourself to be playful and not too serious. Be aware that you are not the only one who feels stuck from time to time and give yourself the permission to work on a more subconscious level for a while. Being stuck is also a part of the creative process as long as you don’t give up on going back to the drawing table over and over again. One success contains many failures.
TBI: How do you balance your professional time or personal time with your creative time?
SK: I am a full-time artist and also a graphic designer. How to live a balanced life as an artist is an ongoing topic in my family – I am not sure I’ve got the answer yet.
TBI: Many artists want to find commercial commission or collaboration opportunities as a way to support their craft, do you have any advice on finding the right clients to partner with?
SK: Contacting people/clients whose work you like and relate to, and being proactive about what you’ve got to offer them is a good starting point.
TBI: Tell me more about co-directing your artist project space Green Bench. What inspired you to start it?
SK: When Julian and I moved to New Zealand we found a vacant shop space and fell in love with it. That space became the perfect opportunity for us to realize our old dream to create a multifunctional project room to work, exhibit and collaborate. There were a lot of walk-ins and looking back it was my first exposure to a social platform; we created a community where people and other artists could meet and exchange ideas in a town we were new to.
The Green Bench physically exists in the town where I grew up. It was on that bench the locals met and exchanged news and gossip every evening before going home after work.
Thank you again, Sophie, for your time and your thoughtful insights into your process and journey as a working artist and collaborator. For more information about Sophie Klerk check out her website: www.sophieklerk.com and of course her stunning Instagram @sophieklerk
photos courtesy of Sophie Klerk