Studio Escargot’s range of plush dolls seem to come alive with every detail and tiny article of clothing. The characters are both lovable and fashionable. Sophia Smeekens, the creative behind Studio Escargot, gives us a little glimpse into her creative process and lets us in on what life as an artist on Instagram is like.
Where are you located? Has this always been home for you?
I am located in a suburb near Amsterdam (The Netherlands). I was born and raised in Amsterdam in a very green and child friendly area just outside the center.
What inspires you to create these plush characters? Tell us Pierrot’s story.
I have always had a wild imagination and love for old fabrics, trimmings and haberdashery. Vintage pictures and movies, haute couture, editorials and art inspire me. The pierrot was created after I saw a collage someone had made and put on Instagram. We ended up trading the collage for the first pierrot doll and ballerina I ever made!!!
How does your little one inspire you to create? Is she helpful or active in your creative process?
My little one helps me by being herself! Wandering around the studio…pulling out little treasures like pieces of wool, yarn and other fabric. I am inspired by listening to her tell herself all kinds of stories and watching her play with her dolls and toys. Every now and then, she wants to help by stuffing the dolls. I let her, but it’s not really helping as I end up doing it all over again of course.
What color palettes are you drawn to?
I love color palettes that are a little “off”. I like when you look at something and see that something is not completely right, but you can’t exactly put your finger on it. Pale colors and pastels are my favorites.
How did you transition into the children’s market?
I have always loved making dolls, dollhouses and clothes. All of my life, fairy tales and children’s rooms have been an inspiration to me. I started out making some quilts and cushions. Then one night, I thought of making my daughter a rag doll. And that was the first of many…
Tell us about life on Instagram.
I am really trying to use my feed as a mood board and journal at the same time. I love to document and treasure moments in life. I found fellow artists and have had some great collaborations. I get inspired by a lot of other stylists, photographers, doll makers and artists. I also find that through social media the world gets so much smaller, so that you find out that ideas that you thought were, unique were already shared and done by others. It makes me work harder on new projects. I am very critical of the things I make and put out there.
How do you push through a creative block or the feeling of being overwhelmed by what is already out there? What advice would you give fellow creatives when they experience this feeling?
It mostly comes natural, I have a block and then nothing gets done. Then I start browsing trough my art books and archives of inspirational images (paper or Pinterest). Ideas begin to pop up in my mind and I start collecting images and sketching. Then, I start to actually create from my idea/sketch. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have a lot of unfinished projects lingering around the studio. I would advise my fellow artists to stay true and close to themselves.