Where are you from? I spent my early childhood in an outdoorsy mountainous town (Evergreen) outside of Denver, CO, before moving to Seattle, WA as I entered high school. The first few years of my twenties I spent in Seattle after graduating from the University of Washington. I’m now living and working in Chicago.
Can you tell us about your background and what led you down the path to becoming an artist and ultimately experimenting with NFTs? I first knew I wanted to be an artist at 5 years old (my mom is an artist, and a handful of my extended family were artists, which was a significant inspiration to me early on). I won the Cherry Creek Arts Festival for a piece I had submitted around 5 years old, which was probably validating to my child self, too. As I entered my high school years, I let go of that desire and fell victim to “doing the right thing” — as a college student, I studied communications and business marketing in an effort to get a steady job out of college.
In my early twenties, though, I’d found myself healing from a series of challenging events — an eating disorder, sexual assault, and an abusive relationship — and was prompted to return home to myself, questioning my beliefs and a mindset that had led me to that point of darkness.
In an effort to find safety and assurance in my femininity and autonomy again, I dove into figure drawing, sculpting the body on paper while I learned to love my own again. At first, I wasn’t drawing for anyone else; it was only therapy. Once I started sharing some of my work on social media, though, I found that my figure drawings were resonating with other people, too. One of my favorite comments from an early collector was: “I love how your work actually feels like how women (or myself, at least) see and inhabit our bodies. And yeah, they’re sexy, but not because you’re sexualizing them.” Another said: “Thank you so much for creating pieces that somehow make me love my own body more.”
The rest is history. From that point on, I couldn’t not be an artist. And definitely not just for the purpose of my own existence + process, either.
For the first few years of my professional career, I was taking commissions, selling prints, making t-shirts, etc. I was struggling to fight the algorithm on social media, though, which stifled a lot of my marketing efforts; Instagram had rejected a few posts from my art account due to “violation of community rules,” though the works were exceptionally subtle, minimal, and abstract. (Like this one, for example, which should be the least of Instagram’s worries.)
I’d heard about “crypto art” around this time, and my frustration with the status quo and current landscape of the art market drove me to research. At the time, very little information was available for traditional artists seeking to enter the NFT space, so I began to write about my journey for those that came to follow. Since early 2021, those articles have onboarded a significant number of people into NFTs and were huge even in my own development to understand the intersection of art and tech.
When did you mint your first NFT? What platform did you choose and why?
I minted my blockchain genesis, “Out of the Box” in January of 2021. It was a traditional piece — colored pencil and pen on toned paper — that I’d digitized by scanning. I used Rarible, since I wanted to start on an open marketplace for the purpose of exploration and to get a sense of the market prior to minting on a closed or curated platform.
Can you tell us one thing you cannot live without? (and why)
I can’t live without my sisters, Emma and Gracie. They’re both younger than I am, but so insightful and so wise, and are quick to call me on my bulls***t. I love that I have built-in best friends that share my DNA. I think that I am a lot of the artist and the woman that I am because of who they are and how they show up in my life.
Who is your favorite artist(s) (Non NFT)?
My favorite artists (and those I study frequently) are Jenny Saville, James Jean, George Condo, Takashi Murakami, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, and Cy Twombly.
What about their style resonates with you?
I think that each of these artists has inspired my work uniquely. I love the grotesque and gorgeous figures of Condo, Saville and Schiele, for example, and the precision and narrative of Murakami and Jean. Twombly and de Kooning inspire freedom, looseness, and abstraction in my work. All of them make me want to cry (in a good way).
Who is your favorite NFT artist? What makes this artist unique?
My favorite artist in NFTs is Sean Williams, who also happens to be my partner. He’s unique in his style, in his storytelling, and his mindset. I think he’s a genius, and the way he understands our psychological nature to speak to really “human” experiences is exceptional. As an artist, he’s prolific — his body of work is pretty massive — because the man is always working. He understands his creative responsibility and navigates the blockchain accordingly; he’s pursuant of knowledge, of skill, and is wildly unafraid of the opinion of man.
(I also think that Bobby Hundreds and Jake Osmun are really doing this blockchain thing right as artists + innovators.)
What made you pursue NFT art?
The need for more effective distribution of my work, an interest in engaging with my collectors more intimately, and a love of royalties in perpetuity. S/O to the OGs that made it happen before my time.
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on?
I always wish I’d gotten a Doodle — I love the art! — but missed my chance when they were more accessible.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why this location?
This has been the most difficult question to answer so far! On one hand, I’d give anything to be with friends in New York in a small pizza joint after a night out, but on the other hand, all I want to do is spend time with my grandma at our lake cabin in Montana. Right now, more than global experiences, I’m aching for my people.
What are your other passions besides art? Why?
I’m a recent plant parent, and my favorite thing to do right now is spend my Saturdays watering and misting and rotating and singing to all my plant babies. My mental health can perch precariously if I’m not careful to look after myself, but I think something as simple as caring for plants (alongside my fur babies) has been good for my mind + spirit.
Do you make other forms of art?
I make digital art, traditional art (mixed media figurative drawings, predominantly); I also make t-shirts (designs) and cut & sews, and recently, Sean and I have been making 3D models for our collaborative, explorative project, GOOD YOUTH.
How did you come up with your specific style?
Over the course of my artistic career, I’ve developed a style I call SuperStacked. I work in both physical and digital spaces, but regardless of media, my work and process play on a “museum and mayhem” juxtaposition. Often, I like to stack dynamic narratives on top of another, leading the viewer into emotional confusion or curiosity.
How has your style evolved over the years?
It’s become a lot more complicated. I’m either “less is more” or “more is more” — but nothing in between.
What is coming in the near future?
I’m working on two collections right now: Heavenly Bodies, which is a collection of drawings that explore the digital identity + digital body, and Scribbled Nipples, which is a collection of traditional works that will be made available as NFTs alongside their physical originals.
If you could collaborate with one artist who would it be?
Teddy Santis at Aimé Leon Dore for a brand collaboration.
Do you have any upcoming drops?
June 23: Nifty Gateway (For the TL)
July (TBD): Chicago Bulls x Coinbase
Where can collectors find your work?
On my own contract via Manifold + OpenSea: https://opensea.io/collection/sophie-sturdevant
Link to Website: https://www.sophiesturdevant.com
NFT marketplace links:
> Foundation: https://foundation.app/@sophiesturdevant