Interview: Babette de la Vega

First few basic questions, who are you, what are you doing, where are you coming from?

Hi, my real name is Sophie. I was born in France but I’ve spent half of my life abroad. I’ve studied costume design, art direction, psychology, and yoga. I used to work as a costume designer (I have a real crush on masks and transforming textiles). I also worked with fashion design accessories, and graphic design, owned a shop in Brazil and worked in various yoga studios during my last years in Portugal.
Since I’m back in France, while continuing to study psychoanalysis, I am finalizing a new project: a welcoming place in the middle of nature, for people to collaborate on artistic projects, develop activities related to movement, yoga, or other physical, dynamic, and cultural practices.

You have a very vibrant and colorful style, how would you describe your style? And how quickly did you fnd your ”style”?

Lately, I am getting much more chaotic and impulsive in the way I work. It’s less clean and restrained than it used to be. I’m trying to get more released in the movement and less chained by the mind.
In the beginning, I dedicated myself to digital collages, then I found it interesting to reproduce these collages in an analogical way. That’s how everything started. So it has not been quick! I went threw various steps to get rid of this hyper-controlling mind and to feel freer in the process.

In your artworks, what are the most important things/elements to yourself? Do you have certain things that you notice to pay more attention to, like shapes, forms or content?

The most important wouldn’t be a particular element or shape, but the movement going through the space, the feeling of continuity, like an endless story. I always loved the idea of “cadavre exquis” and unfinished stories. But I must admit that the human species is a big thing in my work, although it is generally depicted as incomplete in the midst of a chaotic or surreal environment.

Do you have favorite materials, or do you like the challenge of working with something new?

I love to work with old papers, pictures, and books. The colors and textures are unique and filled with emotions. I am very lucky that my grandparents used to be some kind of accumulators!

And when I need to print an image to work on it, I usually choose another kind of paper than the basic one, so that I can get a particular touch and shade.

When you start a new piece, do you have a clear vision of what you are going to do? And then, when you’re building the artwork, how much does the work ”live”/change from the original vision? How much do you improvise?

I never have any clear vision, not a minimum idea of what I want to represent. I start with doing, not thinking.
When I have no inspiration I start working on the background. And when a specific image keeps my attention, I build the background around this main item.
I also do spend some time browsing old books and pictures, choosing some, cutting others, and doing nothing else than accumulating future selected materials, it’s part of the process.

How long does it take you to make an artwork, and do you work on several at a time?

Well, regarding the way I work, there is no rule. It may be very fast, like a few hours. It may be very very slow.
Sometimes I abandoned some started works, hide them, rediscover them months later, and eventually finish them. But I always focus on one at a time. Otherwise, I get lost in my mess!

How easy or hard is it to finish your work? Do you ever get burnt out on a piece, and then, what do you do to keep working and being productive?

As said before, it is very variable, it depends on the day, on the piece. When I’m feeling unsatisfied about a piece I really want to finish, I leave it by the side; let a few days pass, and then I’m able to see what’s missing.
Today I feel more regulated and less exigent regarding productivity, I’m able not to waste a piece because of my impatience.

How important is the meaning you believe a piece of art has to you? Do you want your viewers to understand your art or know why you made it?

For me, it’s not that much meaning than the process. When I do work on a piece, it is because I need it. It may seem selfish, and it certainly is.
It’s a way of expressing creativity, it’s a way of being focused and absorbed into the moment, a way of getting rid of the constraining routine and the unstoppable thoughts. I could make a connection with the sensations I experience during my yoga practices. It’s not really about the result but about the inner space, I can create during that time.
There is obviously a meaning behind every creation, and it is always exciting and interesting to hear/read others’ interpretations or analyses.

Can you name a song or movie that reflects your work? And then, why that particular song/movie? What kind of threads do you find between the song/movie and your work?

I love music, but never work while listening to it. It prevents me from staying focused. Silence is a big thing for me, a big part of my life: it is necessary for me to feel good. That is why I live in the middle of the woods! But if I would have to choose one piece of music, I would think of Aphex Twin: “vordhosbn” as it is melodic and nostalgic, chaotic while structured, there is softness and madness at the same time.

If I had to mention one movie, it would be Arizona Dream, because of its sweet craziness, its absurd situations, and the feeling of daydreaming that emanates from it.

If you should describe your art with one word, what would it be?


Babette de la Vega around the Internet