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Artist and Author Sophie Kipner Turns Art School Exercise Into Unique Style

Photo by Heidi Edwards

Some artists find inspiration in nature. Others look to the work of the great masters. But Sophie Kipner discovered her style while making dinner for an intimate group of friends. In London working on her debut novel, The Optimist, the hostess was searching for a way to help two friends connect.

“I had this whole cabinet full of art supplies and wanted to play some sort of game, so I just came up with this idea that everyone would sit across from each other, drawing without lifting up the pen or looking down, as a way to have fun.” She subconsciously played upon an exercise she learned in art school called blind contour drawing, which she described in a recent one-on-one interview as “a perfect game to do at dinner because these two people had a bit of a crush on each other and it was a way to force them to stare at each other without being creepy.”

Fueled by music and a bit of wine, the night turned into an art extravaganza that Sophie defined as being like musical chairs. “We’d just pop around the table and at the end of the night we had all these drawings of each other.”

The results were three-fold. Sophie had an incredibly fun and unique dinner party. The flirtatious couple had a short but successful fling. And Sophie began to develop her own form of artistic expression that’s putting her on the map.

“I became addicted to doing it. I was finding myself drawing everything that way, on the bus going to work, all the time, really,” she admitted, “Then I started shading it in with charcoal and moving into watercolor and eventually I started sharing it.”

In addition to creating non-traditional portraits of pop culture icons like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, Sophie’s original works are being commissioned by friends and art patrons alike. “I love it because people don’t seem to be deterred by the fact that it’s not always flattering portraits of themselves. But in a way that’s probably why people are liking them, because it’s so abstract that it doesn’t feel like they’ve got a picture of themselves on their wall,” Sophie acknowledged.

While this series, which she calls “DONTLIFTUPDONTLOOKDOWN” is her main focus art-wise, it shouldn’t be overlooked that it all started while Sophie was working on her novel, The Optimist. She described the book as the “adventures of this delusional girl trying to find love… It’s a farce but it touches on a lot of the things that are true when you’re dating and trying to find your right fit.”

Although she was quick to point out that the novel is not really autobiographical, Sophie revealed that she mostly drew inspiration from people she knew. “Just hearing girlfriends talk about how they're interpreting the moves from someone they’re dating or wanting to date, it’s become the most complicated thing.” But as literature has proven time and time again, complicated makes for interesting reading.

Now Sophie is taking her writing to a whole new level. She’s working with a director to adapt a recently published story about The Optimist’s protagonist into a short film. The plan is to turn it into pilot and, hopefully, a series. “Because it’s inherently episodic, it would make a good TV show,” noted Sophie.

To learn more about Sophie Kipner, her art and her writing visit her official website.

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