No doubt that Instagram has revolutionised the way we experienced art, namely making it more accessible to anyone with an account and internet. On the other hand, scrolling through the gram can sometimes be visually exhausting as we’re almost instantly exposed to thousands of posts that eventually seem to merge into one, with nothing, in particular, standing out – but Sumara Laika’s digital portraits do.
Aimlessly scrolling through the explore page I came across the Londoners colourful creatural art that captures a cathartic ethereal beauty. The sideburns, upper lip and underarm hair that are so often filtered out of the ‘normal’ image of feminine beauty form the inspiration behind the multimedia artists recent project, which initially just began as a means to practise drawing digitally. However fuelled by frustrations with the platform, Sumara merged and manipulated photography posts with an ironic vibrant pop-art effect that reimage the charm of physical features most females are typically insecure about.
Focused on the female form, Sumara transforms each of her muses into surreal mystical characters that leave you intrigued and wanting to find out more, yet the London-based artist is still in the midst of experimenting and isn’t putting any pressure on herself to develop the project beyond where it now is. Here we meet Sumara to talk biology, 2018 lessons and social media.
What have you been up to lately?
I've been travelling, working on new art and working at a juice bar – trying to find a balance between working to making a living and investing time into my art has been a hard skill to master.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
In hindsight, I’d say yes I have. But as a child/young adult, I was just 'floating’ and not really realising that my enjoyment for art could be anything further than that. It wasn’t until the last year of secondary school that I realised I wanted to study if further and pursue it.
When did you start creating/ getting involved in art?
I've always been creative from a very young age. I have fond memories of painting fabrics with my dad and drawing the frogs in the pond in his garden.
Do you feel like your environment has an effect on you and your work?
Yes, I think my environment affects both me and my work; my most recent work is influenced by Instagram which is as an environment of sorts. The idea that the online space is something we literally inhabit and are heavily altered by because of the amount of time we spent in these spaces. Even if it is ‘just online’. I am also affected by nature and its patterns and biology and how this relates to me, my body, and in turn, all female anatomy.
Who would you say are your biggest inspirations – artistic or otherwise?
My artistic influences are all women - be that in the divine power of the female reproductive system, or in Nature and its symmetry and patterns. I see similarities between the two, with the visual representation of those similar patterns I choose to emulate in my work.
One artist that has influenced me is Yayoi Kusama; I think her representation of infinity is beautiful, and her life so important in sifting the way society saw sexuality and gender through her performance art. Her battle with mental health and how she uses her art as a tool to cope with that is also something I hold dear to my heart.
Takashi Murakami's’ work also holds a significant place in my influences, with the way he structures and composes his piece being something I strive to achieve in my work at some point in my career.
Where did the idea for this project come from?
At first, it was an experimental thing – just to learn more about drawing digitally. I realised that this work translated over the internet really well so I continued doing them. I thought it would be ironic to take photos from Instagram and edit them to express my frustrations with the platform - but then post it back up onto that very same platform for other people to digest. This intended to show the fickle and/ or often conflicted nature of how we navigate sites like Instagram - with us, we still continuing to use them whilst also being very heavily aware of their potential flaws.
What do you hope this project shows?
I hope that it shows the beauty in the things females are typically insecure about in their appearance (ie. female facial hair, bodily hair, acne, stretch marks, veins, dark circles… The list could go on.) and that it’s okay to let the negativity out openly, as long as there’s growth past it. We don’t always have to deal with a thing with flowers and unicorns. Sometimes just scream in a fit of rage.
Your muses in this project have been female, are they always?
All of my work is about the female body and mind, so for this project it was always going to be female subjects and about the female experience.
As an artist, what is your relationship with social media like?
Instagram is the only social media I use, and I would say that I do have an unhealthy relationship with it. I think the average person has an unhealthy relationship with social media. The outside validation has too much power, which is something I’ve had to monitor myself on to feel better in myself.
What kind of mediums do you enjoy working in?
I prefer to draw on paper mostly. My abstract art is the work I most enjoy creating. I often use different pens, inks and water-based paints.
My digital work is something very new, which I’ve found I enjoy doing too.
What's your creative process like?
I usually have music on or the tv on in the background. I need sound to keep me focused. I never know what I’m going to draw exactly until I start and I build from there - sometimes I may have a small idea of the size and materials I want to use but it’s always an unorganised freestyle kind of method.
Has your artistic style changed much over the years?
My style hasn’t changed. It’s just my technique has gotten better over the years of practice. The things I draw may change but I feel all my drawings and paintings still have the same look and feel to them.
Has it been difficult to find your set artistic style so to speak?
Not for me personally. I 'fell into' my style and once I found it came so naturally to me that I don’t really think about having a specific style anymore. It just comes from me.
Have you got any exhibitions coming up/ would you like to do more exhibition work?
I have none lined up right now but I’m always looking for places and platforms to show my work and I have ideas for a solo show in the near future.
What have you learnt this year?
I have learnt to LISTEN to myself, be PATIENT with myself and my process and to LOVE myself even when I seem to be stagnant and not moving forward creatively.
What's one thing that you'd change if you could in the world?
I would change society's standards of feminine beauty. I’d change how the idea of femininity is seen as a solely female thing. I’d change the fact that women have certain targets to achieve and maintain in order to be deemed “desirable”. I think femininity and beauty are completely subjective and individual.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Love yourself ladies.
courtesy SUMARA LAIKA
interview GERALDA CELA
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