Sofia Fitzpatrick is probably one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. When I met at her Paddington apartment to start our interview, I thought I’d be there for half an hour, but I ended up staying almost 3. The best way to describe Sofia is probably through describing her apartment; the rockabilly den is full of unique art works, records, and most importantly, skulls. We sat on the floor and listened to Tom Waits, drank peppermint tea and smoked while we talked.
Sofia’s life has been filled with both creativity and loss, and these two influences have lead her to create an iconic and ingenious line of jewellery that uses ancient wax-carving techniques to create “raw and primal” skull necklaces, rings and bracelets. During her short time creating jewellery, Sofia has already been named one of the Top 100 artists of all time to use skulls in their work, featured in ‘Skull Style’, a book curated by a boutique publisher in New York. In this book, Sofia is named alongside the likes of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. With Sofia, we believe we have unearthed a true force to be reckoned with in the jewellery market, both in Sydney and globally. Her work has been featured in Rolling Stone, and it is only a matter of time until she becomes a household name for beautiful, ethereal, skull jewellery.
Sofia is holding her first exhibition this Thursday night to reveal her latest work to the world. “Skulls and Bones” will be held at The Den in The Ivy at 6pm and will feature Sofia’s latest line of jewellery. The event is sponsored by Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum, so there will be plenty of alcohol, as well as live nude portraits, burlesque and the work of amazing photographers. As far as events go in Sydney this week, you don’t want to miss this one!
Here we’ve exclusively printed the interview Sofia gave the ‘Skull Style’ book in it’s entirety.
What is the first thought that occurs to you when you see an image of a skull?
Intrigue! 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.
Why did you start using skulls in your artwork? What inspired the concept?
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 message you are trying to convey?
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 its 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.
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.
There are so many people obsessed with skulls today and designers from all forms 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.
Why do you believe that the negative connotation behind skulls has changed? What is all the obsession about?
Contemporary boundaries of shock value have been pushed by art and fashion trends, skulls are now seen as design rather than having morbid connotations. Skulls have been used for centuries in visual and poetic expression. There is romance in skull imagery, therefore skulls have and will always be used in creative culture.
Any thoughts of the difference in use – comical or tragic or spiritual element – which do you like better and why?
Comedy, tragedy and spirituality are all elements of life, and as art imitates life, I believe all are essential in creative expression. It’s a part of our existence. Skulls have been used in art throughout the ages since the beginning of mankind and will continue to capture our imaginations till the end of time.
You have your own signature style, what sets your collection apart from other artists?
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. I think 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.
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 - I have no space left.
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, Iggie Pop, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin and so on, whilst my mother's taste leaned towards classical music. My grandfather - her father – played 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.
What do you think is the reason there is something provocative about skulls?
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.
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 check 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 this trend has endured?
I think that modern culture has now embraced the skull image and no longer associates it with negativity. It is a powerful image of design.