More than just a pretty bouquet! Q&A with artist Sophie Gradden

One of the absolute best things about this industry is the astoundingly creative people we get to work on basically a daily basis. Grace & Thorn's style is absolutely founded in art and creativity and is something that continues to inspire our work with every single bouquet, every single day.

This doesn't just include clients and collabs, but also within our very own team! OBVIOUSLY they all can do some banging floristry, but they are not one trick ponies, oh no. Sophie Gradden is a brilliant example of that. She's one of our regulars on the flower front, but outside of G&T she's a fully fledged artist and well worth getting familiar with.

Hi Sophie! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into creating art?

Hellooo! Thanks for having me! So I grew up in Buckinghamshire with my folks and siblings, I was the arty rebellious one out of the 3 of us kids, always loved making things, but especially drawing and copying images from books. My first ever commission was when I was 17, I was asked to copy a Jack Vettriano postcard and paid the grand some of 15 quid, she still has it hung up. 

I studied art through school, favourite subject, obvs! I then went on to further my studies, firstly my foundation in Cheltenham (one of the best years) which is where I explored and specialised in Painting. Then on to my degree in Fine Art at Bristol UWE….dropped out, the art was set aside, not forgotten, just in my back pocket for the time being. I just always thought “Being an artist, pipedream, why bother!” I had zero confidence in my creativity, I’m still working on it to this day.

Two poignant years stand out and were what set me out to where I am with my art today. 2016 was the start of a very messy time for me mentally, I went down a dark tormented rabbit hole. My best friend for years had wanted me to do a painting for her, and this was the time she pushed me more than ever to get on with it, almost like she knew it may help or something, I don’t know, probably not, she just wanted her free painting! Later that year I applied for my first ever art fair, exposing my art and I to the public, opening myself up for genuine critique, instead of biased family and friends, it was terrifying but so incredibly cathartic. This was the very start of it. In 2018 I quit my job, threw myself in at the deep end to pursue my love of painting and explore being an artist and most importantly to mentally regain some balance. Best decision I ever made.

Since then, I now live and paint in south east London, I have shown my work at numerous fairs in and around London, achieved gallery representation, created numerous commissions, hosted painting workshops to raise money for charities I am extremely passionate about and just get do what I love. Oh and I cannot not mention the countless, inspirational, supportive and insanely talented artists I have met along the way. So much more to come I hope.

Where do you find inspiration for your artwork?

In most places, I’m quite easily inspired whether it be by another artist's work or a simple wonder through Deptford Market. I especially look for colour, shapes and texture, how they sit together, juxtaposition, material conflict. I would say my work is predominantly known for the colours – bold, bright, fluorescent mixed with more muted dull even ugly tones; shape – blocks and lines, texture – playing with various paint finishes. I want my works to disarm and engage the viewer. 

We love the range of media you use to create your works, what's your favourite to work with? Do you find this has changed over time?

Paint - I tend to mainly work with Acrylic, and it was my one and only go to for a while, but in time household emulsions are up there as a favourite, I’m always in B&Q!! It applies to the canvas or wooden boards really well, the choice of colours is a dream, although some would say lazy and you should mix your own, but I’m afraid I don’t have time, you get a lot of paint for your money AND you can vary the drying finish! Winner! 

As an artist, what would your dream project be?

Might sound odd, but I’ve always wanted and would absolutely love to create a painting to be used for a singer or bands album cover or to collaborate with a brand or another artist I admire, all sounds a bit vague but sort of don’t like to get ahead of myself, you know like you do with winning the lottery chat haha! But I do know I have many thoughts of “oh that would be F**KING Awesome!!” especially when you see what other artists are doing, that is inspiring and the possibilities of what I could do! 


And finally, of course, we always love to know, what's your favourite flower or plant and why?

Ranunculus! Something about the petal formation, closed and fully bloomed the continual almost never-ending lines, I find really pleasing, and of course allllll the colours. 

You can see Sophie's work and find out more about upcoming shows and fairs on her website and on her instagram @sophiegradden_contemporaryart - give her a follow!

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