Artist and Illustrator Sonya Parra

Sonya Parra Illustration takes on the Design Juices spotlight today with a feature on her artistic and illustrative talents. A lover of fashion design and a painter of magnificent portraits, Sonya Parra paints and draws both by hand and digitally.

Based in Leicester but often working in London, her inspirations are avant garde photography, fashion, art, illustration, and concept art, digital art to name a few. Artists inspirational to me include; Caravaggio, Shawn Barber, Donato Giancola, Steven Stahlberg, Sophie Griotto, Connie Lim, Linda Bergkvist, and Ruoxing Zhang to name a few.

My style is often described as feminine, pretty, sexy or edgy depending on the piece with colour and lighting fascinating me the most. I try to create mood and love the human form. This year I’ve noticed my portraits are a little more smiley, maybe that’s reflective of my internal happiness. Coming from a theatrical background it brings itself out in my work, perhaps this is why I have a great love of dramatic lighting, story and scene.

I love to draw by hand as much as possible then to play about digitally till I get something I like, but the drawing always comes first. This is usually determined by a scene, a mood, or a look that I wish to create, then often I’ll discover a new technique and this opens up my work to be transformed further again, sometimes giving life to previously disregarded pieces. I never stop discovering and that’s what makes me buzz.

My favourite mediums for drawing are ink, charcoal, non waterproof fine liner, marker pens, Caran D’ache soluble pencils, layout paper and textured watercolour paper, my printer, scanner, Wacom and 3D workstation plus laptop and 32″ Dell monitor. Also when painting portrait commissions, Acrylic on canvas- size usually around 24″x 32″.

I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil. My first life changing and vivid artistic memory… the actual point when clearly I knew that I was born to create- was in infant school, discovering that we could make colours by mixing colours…. age 5, totally addicted!  I have been creating ever since.

I completed my First Diploma in Graphic Design, A’level Fine Art, and Foundation in Art and Design in a two year period at Leicester Southfields College. I then continued to Cleveland College of Art and Design, a two year HND in Design Crafts for the Entertainments Industries, specialising in Theatre Set design. From here I went onto Suffolk University, they allowed me to complete a one year degree  in Stop-frame Animation and Theatre set design. Finally I went onto do 2 professional level courses in 3D – using Maya software at Escape Studio’s, London, these courses were Maya Comprehensive- 3D animation, and Maya for Games.

Taking a year off to travel around Italy and worked as a street artist drawing portraits for a living around North East region of Italy, including Venice my birthplace. They said I was the first ever English girl to do street portraits in the Cities and towns. From here I’ve had a number of artistic roles as a freelancer, clients included; British Steel, The Sutton Hoo Society, Writer/ Director Luath Grant Ferguson, Littlejohn Architects, Laurence Paul Ceramics, as well as my community work for Leicester City Council to name a few. Most recently I have worked on illustrations for Samsung at the Olympic and Paralympic games, this was truly inspirational, especially the Paralympians.

For many years I’ve been totally addicted to discovery with my creativity… always wanting to exhaust all opportunities before settling down into one discipline. It was a big decision for me to me to stick with illustration and this year the decision has started to pay off, taking my work into a whole new direction. Looking forward I see myself continuing to gain contracts with brands and companies who like my style, and have my work published.

Illustration is fast pace. Fast turnaround of small projects that I have most, if not all, of the artistic control over. Working in my studio and work there most days. There I am the happiest I could ever be.

I never stop feeling grateful for all that I have had, and do have in my life. Each day is a blessing.

Follow more of Sonya Parra on her Website, Facebook and @SonyParraUK on twitter.