In our latest interview, written by the lovely Tara, we interviewed the multitalented Soleil! She talked us through two distinct yet eye-opening subjects that are crucial in her life. Being an ‘unschooler’ and learning from life experiences
Question One: As an introduction, could you inform us of what ‘unschooling’ is and entails? You’d mentioned that the system falls under the umbrella of ‘homeschooling’, though you especially learn from life experience and make time to pursue more creative work.
yeah! unschooling can be done pretty differently for all the families that take part in it, I think the most important part of it is allowing your kids to learn what they're most passionate about at their own pace. I was never given some type of schedule, or homework that I had to do even if I wasn't actually interested in it. I've learned most of the things I know from life experiences and being online, I learned how to read and write on my own, I was taught some math by my dad as a kid but I've actually learned a lot of it from art related things like measurements and selling work. I never had to study things that didn't interest me, so I've spent and continue to spend most of my time creating art and learning how to become a better artist! I hope unschooling becomes legal in more areas and is seen as an option for more families.
Question Two: You’ve weaved activism and artistry together by donating money to the Black Lives Matter movement in return for handmade pieces. How has being ‘unschooled’ helped you pioneer this initiative, and what gave you the idea?
I've always wanted to use my platform and art to help or support anyone if it's a possibility for me, I think being unschooled and meeting other unschoolers/small artists has shown me a sense of community and how important it is to be there for the people around you, even if it's in small ways. Though I wasn't actually able to raise much money at all to donate to BLM, I was able to raise money through selling art to donate to the World Health Organization for COVID-19 relief in April, which I was really happy about. Showing solidarity and being supportive within the art community is super important to me, and I think it should be for all artists.
Question Three: To the many small artists who share their work through social media, what advice would you give in order to gain optimum recognition?
Being genuine! Being yourself and posting consistently, creating artwork you're passionate about is so, so important. Connecting with your audience and making friends through artistry is great, having that support and mutual interest is also awesome. I'll also say try not to worry about having a consistent art style or theme, you might gain a bigger audience through that but I don't think it's worth not exploring your creativity or different mediums. Your art style will develop more and more through practice, and you'll be able to see that through any medium or theme. You want people to like you and your art, you shouldn't want followers just to have followers!
Question Four: If any, in your perspective, what are the drawbacks of not ever having been in the official schooling system?
Having friends in real life is difficult for me, and going to unschool/homeschool gatherings often doesn't feel organic, or friendships don't stick. A lot of people think that if you don't go to school then you won't be able to have a 'real job', or they just think you're plain stupid, which just… isn't true. I feel embarrassed sometimes that I might not know every single thing kids my age are taught in their school, but it doesn't bother me too often because I also know a lot of things that they don't even know, so it's kinda an even balance that I shouldn't worry about, haha.
Question Five: I imagine that social media has provided you the chance to connect with hundreds of likeminded creatives! Who are your current favourite online creators?
Definitely! I've met so many cool artists online through being a fan of certain musicians, but my favorites right now are some creators that I found on Instagram like @flesh.png, @milkymothteeth, @novchild.jpg, @withapencilinhand, @artizblue, @cherrykiwitwist, and @artofmaz. they're all huge inspirations to me, but there's so many artists that I love and try to support!
Question Six: After looking through your extraordinary collection of art, made in various mediums, I notice the many pieces of different music artists. What compells you to draw certain people?
Thank you! Drawing people like Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Jacob Bixenman, plus a few more wonderful creators is really comforting for me, and feels like a way to show my appreciation for them and what they've done for me. Getting new photos of my favorite people is always super exciting and drawing them is just encapsulating that excitement to cherish forever! And the feeling when someone I admire actually sees my artwork of them is really special. Though I enjoy making art of people I admire more than a lot of people can imagine, I do hope to start creating original artwork, or even characters someday!
Question Seven: Your Etsy shop is under the name ‘Soleil Nigro’, as is your social media. I hope you gain so much deserved success! To conclude on a lighter note, do you prefer drawing digitally or on paper?
Thank you so much, I really appreciate your support! hmm, I used to feel like putting emotion into my digital work was really difficult but after a lot of practice I've learned to love digital art a lot. Traditional drawing kinda feels like my roots though, it's always nice to make a graphite piece after creating tons of digital work. I love both for how different they are from each other, and I'm excited for future me to see my progress with both mediums.