As a teenager, I studied acting for 6 years. While researching my much-loved Russian literature for interesting monologues, I fell in love with novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky explores human psychology, and as for an actor, his work was perfect for role preparation. I didn’t know then that this exploration of psychology and character drive the way I approach print design and illustration.
When I started studying Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, I instinctively knew that Print would be pathway of my choice. Freedom of expression and immediate transition between hand and paper were qualities I was drawn to. There was just one small problem. I had never been taught how to draw. In order to move forward, I started to draw couple hours a day, every day. I quickly realized that instead of being interested in drawing the common print motifs of flowers or objects, I was particularly drawn to portraiture. I spent most of my degree researching old archives, photographs and exhibitions showcasing human’s stories and characters. I started to study people and psychologically analyse them just like I would analyse literature for role preparation. The only difference was that the outcome now was expressed on paper.
I then realised that main focus of my work would always remain in emotions, especially difficult and hidden ones. As a print designer, I needed to explore more design possibilities like repeat pattern making, but I still wasn’t interested in traditional approach. I decided instead to take apart my portraits, and use selected elements, like the patterns of garments people in my portraits were wearing, to achieve a repeated print. Even these repeated patterns must remain expressive.
Initially I was confused whether I was a print designer or artist because of the uncontrolled nature of my work. I started to wonder how I could translate my illustrations into print design. I looked up vintage prints of Finnish company Marimekko. Their bold and big conversational prints with loose and free print placement inspired me to produce my longest screen-printed sample using stencils and 9 different screens. Though at the end of this process I still returned to screen-printing portraits. Through this experience, I found my print designer approach: visual representation of characters/portraits mixed with patterns designed in a storytelling way. I developed deeper into the possibilities of emotional portraits with a visual exploration of my personal dreams and nightmares in my graduate print project: ‘Still Life Nightmares’. My dream journal offered an unfolding self portrait that inspired paintings and related 3D models. The 3D elements combined to create a ‘dream set.’ In this project, patterns mixed with portraits and figurative drawings. High contrast materials such as matte neoprene and hyper shiny glitter and foil expressed the vividness of my dreams. As the portrait expanded into a dream landscape, textile design gave way to set design. The influences of my practices came together.
I realized that the way I approach print design is not necessarily the same way as commercial textile industry does. In fast fashion, most of the print can feel homogeneous with the digital editing of Photoshop and Illustrator. It sometimes feels like there is not much difference between graphic designers and print designers. I started to wonder where would I see myself in that reality. Mainly through Instagram I found freelance illustrators like Donald Robertson or Alina Zamanova who illustrate with hand drawn qualities, which are then mass printed, on the clothes and other commercial items. I realized that this approach could be suitable for me as it allows maintaining the originality and emotional integrity of artwork but translating this to product; letting my work evolve in the personal and unique ways that are most fitting to me.
I stay open minded about future possibilities of my creative practice like set design. After graduation, I assisted with set design for Vogue Italia and CR Fashion Book. Looking up set designers who are also illustrators like Gary Card gave me confidence to think about myself as multidisciplinary artist and designer. Freelance print and illustration is something I want to definitely explore next.
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Finalist in the Chamber of Commerce Business Growth Award 2015 & 2016 – Winner of the Business & Community Awards Business of The Year 2014 – Scoot Headline Award Winner 2014 – BLB Best Online Art Gallery Award Winner 2012
Miguel Sopena’s painting ‘The Valencia Series: The Old Town I’ (acrylic on linen, 92x73cm) has been selected to feature at the Lovely Gallery Open 2017 group exhibition. The Valencia series is inspired by Miguel’s home town of Valencia, in Eastern Spain. Miguel has explained that the series is ‘a free interpretation (rather than a literal translation) of the sights, sounds and textures of the town’ and that he only works on the series when he is physically in the city, since, as he explains, ‘the connection between the source material and the work suffers when I am back in my usual working environment in London’.
Miguel is a theoretical physicist who changed direction to train as a classically trained figurative painter but has recently developed an abstract and semi-abstract strand of work inspired by themes such as memory, identity, a response to the immediate environment, and a dialogue with the painting materials themselves. Miguel grew up in Valencia but is now based in London. His work, CV and contact and other information can be found on his website, www.miguelsopenaarts.com. The Lovely Gallery (www.thelovelygallery.com) is located at 140 Sydenham Road, SE26 5JZ in South London and exhibition hours are Thursday-Sunday 12-6pm. The Open 2017 exhibition runs 6-16 July.
Hallidonto was recently invited to take part in a technical demonstration of Googletilt, an innovative virtual reality drawing software package.
By using his continuous line technique, he created a visual representation of a cyborg which was then transformed into a sculpture using the latest 3D printing technology. Hallidonto is in talks to bring my upcoming “Birth of a Cyborg” project in collaboration with Virtual Futures and Hobs Studio’s . Hob’s studios is the largest 3D printing bureau in the UK, Hob’s are proud to continue their tradition of collaborating with innovative artists, having previously worked with Grayson Perry and Antony Gormley. Virtual Futures Salon, a loose collective of artists, writers, cultural theorists, technological entrepreneurs, philosophers and filmmakers who meet at regular events to share their work and insights through a techno -philosophical lens
Hallidonto is presenting this project brief on Thursday 13th July at the Austrian Cultural Center. As I am looking for funding and potential gallery collaborators for the project. The image is the first the prototype Drawing-sculpture I did for a tech demo at Hobs Studios, this piece was featured at my recent solo exhibition at Joseph Fine Art. The links below are Hallidonto in action using Google tilt and Hob’s Studio.
My upcoming VR project:
My Hob’s studio tec demo and VR drawing into 3D print: