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Featured: Jenna Smith

Meet the Maker - Sophia Jenny

Sophia Jenny is a visual and photographic artist based on Auckland’s North Shore, who has recently started creating cyanotypes, a slow-reacting process of photographic printing using sunlight. “I love the sun, and I’m fascinated by the unique qualities and possibilities of cyanotype. It’s the perfect medium for combining my skills as a photographer with my passion for fine art.” We love Sophia's process so asked her a few questions around how she creates her work and what inspires her mesmerizingly blue art prints.
How did you start your career as an artist?
I was working as a professional photographer in the events industry. However, that ended after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and that was no longer viable. I was determined I didn’t want to give up my love of shooting, of producing visual storytelling, and of using my lens to register and express human emotion. Instead of succumbing to my illness I channeled that energy into something new, where I could still use all the skills I’d learned, and find deep pleasure in my work. That’s how I ended up specialising in cyanotype, which uses both my photographic eye and my skill with producing prints.
What yours background? Did you go to art school?
No. I studied cinematography doing a bachelor in Performing and Screen Arts and worked as a camera operator on documentaries and short films. I then went on to having a growing career in the events industry. I’d also always had a passion for 35mm stills photography, and was known for taking my camera with me everywhere.


Can you describe your style and how you came to it?
I am currently working with Cyanotype. I fell in love with it as soon as I gave it a try and thought, “This is it.” Cyanotype is a photographic process from the 1800s. It uses a mixture of iron compounds, which when exposed to UV light and washed in water, oxidise to create these gorgeous Prussian Blue images. It is a romantically unpredictable process with many variable elements. On paper cyanotype seems simple but in reality it is one of those mediums that is easy to learn but incredibly hard to master.

My style is developing over time. The medium demands I create imagery that is meaningful but within the limitations that you face with cyanotype. In order to achieve pleasing prints you have to think about contrast and tone. Right now, I am finding bold imagery that embraces negative space and contrast is where my sweet spot is. That said, I am always experimenting and trying new things to push the boundaries.


What are the main themes / ideas in your art?
Space, form and perspective. My subjects vary from abstract to flowers to tarot cards, but I am always seeking to create visual beauty and a pleasant emotional reaction in my audience.
 

What is your process for creating a new artwork?
I am one of those people who, having had a moment of inspiration, won’t stop until the image I visualised is created. I am very driven and have a strong work ethic, which helps as the process is about trial and error and requires a lot of patience!

After having an idea there is usually a photo shoot. Then the images will be processed in PhotoShop and turned into film negatives. Then there will be many, many tweaks as I go between test printing and adjustments. Once the master negatives have been finished I enlarge them to different sizes (the size of the film negative denotes the size of the print). Then, I’m ready to produce them.
 

What materials do you like to work with you when creating your art?
After photography and negative creation, cyanotype involves iron oxide compounds and different papers. Lately, I’ve started incorporating gold leaf, which is a lovely compliment to the blue of the medium.
 

What/who is your main source of inspiration?
My inspiration comes from the things that interest me in daily life. Whether that is a conversation, a book, the endless beauty of nature, or something I see or experience, inspiration is everywhere.

Where do you create your art?
I have a little studio room at home here in Auckland.

What do you want people to think/feel when they see your art?
My aim is to inspire positive emotion in the viewer. Beauty and peace isn’t always easy to find in everyday life - but it can certainly be represented on our walls.

What are you working on right now?
Being the end of the year, I have wrapped on new artworks but have many percolating away for creating come next year. I’m working hard on commercialising my art, so I’m incredibly grateful to have endemicworld as a partner in my work.
 

What are your plans for the future or something you would like to work on next?
I would like to participate in more exhibitions. I would also like to continue pushing the boundaries of cyanotype as far as I can. I’m also very interested in producing my work at greater scale, either for people lucky enough to have very big walls, or as installation artworks for private collections or public spaces.

Three words to describe your artwork.
Luscious. Charming. Beautiful. 



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