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INTERVIEW: Artist Entrepreneur Sophie Tea

Sophie Tea is a young British artist and entrepreneur on a mission to prove a career in the creative arts can be fulfilling and lucrative, making her name by breaking the traditional gallery route and independently selling thousands of paintings on her social media worldwide

The millennial artist with a following of 200k+ on Instagram is hot property with her art shows attended globally by celebrities, social media influencers and fans who snap up her paintings in seconds. Sophie’s vibrant abstract work has sold out solo shows around the world often with up to 300 people queuing outside and has made her a multi-millionaire at just 28 years of age.

We caught up with the artist extraordinary during her recent visit to Dubai...

What are people unlikely to know about you?

People might be surprised to know that I did not go to art school, that I studied business and very randomly happened upon painting whilst travelling in India.

What was the moment you decided you wanted to be an artist and truly believed it?

I remember I was in hostel in Jaipur India and I noticed the most beautiful graffiti on the walls. I was running out of money so I asked the manager if I could paint a mural in exchange for a free stay. I painted a huge multi-coloured cow. It was the first time I painted since I was at school and I completely fell in love. It was at that point I decided to become an artist. It was a while after before I truely believed I could do it!

How many collections a year?

Sophie Tea Art drops a new collection every single month, so 12!

How long does a painting take?

It all depends on my state of mind. If I’m in a happy mood then I can create a large piece in a couple of days. Unfortunately creative energy works quite sporadically as I have been known to take weeks to complete a piece.

What fascinates you about the female form the most?

What’s most fascinating to me about the female form is our differences. I have been sent tens of thousands of nude selfies and it still blows my mind how beautifully unique all women are! It’s remarkable!

Have you suffered from negative body issues yourself and how do you deal?

Yes, for years as a teenager I hated the size of my breasts. I remember stuffing football socks down my bra to feel normal. As an adult I still have days where I’m not completely confident, but it’s so important to remind yourself that you are worthy! I take a lot of inspiration from my ‘NUDIES’ - the women that walk naked (and covered in paint) at my shows. Using ‘body image’ as my subject matter has been a cathartic process for me too. One of the things I’m most proud of is pose naked for one of my pieces. Never in a million years did I think I would ever have the confidence to be so bold! It was a good day!

How do you deal with negative criticism?

Not very well! I care so so deeply about the work I’m creating it’s so hard not to take it personally. It’s definitely something I still have a lot of work to do on.

How was Dubai?

Dubai was a dream! I have an exhibition at Me Dubai running until December and I completed a live painting performance in their atrium designed by Zaha Hadid. I’m still on a high from the trip as the career opportunities are so insane their! And I live for my work!

Region restrictive?

My Dubai show curated by Gone Rogue features my HEART artworks. The collection is called ‘Love Doesn’t Stop’. We purposefully chose to keep out my nude collection out of respect. I personally believe that creativity comes from constraint so I loved pulling together an exhibition a little differently to how we usually go about things!

Have you ever doubted yourself?

I doubt myself all day, everyday! I think when you care about something so much, it’s only natural. Pushing through the self-doubt is completely necessary if you want to thrive as an artist. So that’s what I do, everyday!

What do you do to unwind?

I like to get in my hot tub in Sydney every night and watch the stars

Biggest learning curve last 3 years?

Learning to empower my team. If you want to scale a business you can’t be a control freak. It’s important to trust your people to fly on their own!

What does the future hold for Sophie Tea?

The future for Sophie Tea is to become a household name as the girl who introduced you to art!

What does 'self love' mean to you?

Self love to me is deciding who you want to be, and going after that vision with laser focus until you’ve got it.


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