Soni Graves is a long-time Scoutie turned wholesale maker! She does a little bit of everything, including carving beautiful stamps for print-making and super cute bandanas. Aside from her collection inside Scout, you can shop Soni's masterpieces on her Etsy shop. Read on for our Q&A!
Scout: Tell us your story. How did you become interested in art/printmaking/screen printing? When did you begin selling your work?
SG: Long story short, I went through a life-altering divorce, had to move back home to start over and find myself for the first time. That’s when I picked up art supplies in an attempt to do something else besides feel sorry for myself. Clay to make jewelry was the first thing. And things just CLICKED. I love making things, all things, everything and anything. Mostly I make things for myself, things I find gorgeous so I can customize my life. The business side is very much second even to this day. It takes a lot to be a business and I’m still finding the right time to really declare myself one. The thing is I cannot stick to one thing. I find a new interest, delve into it, practice and practice, make bomb stuff I’m happy with and then move on. A Soni-of-all-trades if you will.
Stamp-carving and printing was born from the want to customize my clothes. Clothing making and dying with printing is in the work right now. I love combining skills and being able to turn my illustrations into functional art just makes sense for someone like me who’s obsessed with fashion, up-cycling, etc. I began selling my bandanas at Scout because enough people replied they were interested in buying when I shared what I made for myself on IG. I saw an opportunity to gain some confidence in my saleswoman abilities and reached out to Scout who I know is a big supporter of local artist.
Scout: We know
you're a long-time Scoutie! What do you love most about the shop (besides seeing your work on shelves ;))?
SG: I will always support Scout. I started going there as a teenager purely because I loved the vintage finds and affordable prices. Over time they've evolved into (or I just noticed eventually) more than just cool finds. They have an ethical mission to decrease fast fashion and the detrimental effects it's having on our home and planet. They stand up for equality, human rights, female empowerment, and root for their local neighbors. I see them as a corner stone for what’s cool about Omaha and want to see more shops be like Scout. Kelly has always had confidence in my work before I do and for that I’m always humbled and thankful. Plus have you ever been to their $1 sale?? I look forward to digging for treasures every Sunday!
Tell us more about your creative process. Do you have a studio space? What's your work flow like?
SG: I’ve never thought about describing my creative process. Let’s see. First I get an idea, that idea snow balls into another as I add more Soni-esque elements and deeper meaning (I love adding secret messages into my work as it amplifies my manifestations). Then I day dream and obsess over this new thing way too much until I get my hands on the right materials. Usually this means learning something new, but sometimes I know exactly where I’m headed. The first piece is almost a bit off- not quite right; this part I can do better next time, this part is genius, etc. After taking notes I practice until I feel satisfied and after that I (usually) move on to a whole new idea.
I started working on my art on a night stand in my mom's room and have slowly progressed to a real desk, two desks, then a van, and now I’m (truly so lucky) to have a real studio. A room in my home is dedicated to my art and I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. Even with this whole room I’m running out of room for all my supplies but I love having just the right thing for this new project on hand. Almost any medium you can think of, I’ve got a lil bit in here. It’s a creative dream for my fast paced maker-ship.
A typical creative day for me looks like me in my studio, usually in my undies or something similar where I comfy and deff shouldn’t be answering the door. A glass of water, and my hoop. I’ll beep-bop between projects ALL DAY and take hooping breaks when a banger comes on. The amazing part is I’m so in the zone on these precious days that 10 hours will go by and it feels like 2. Sometimes I even forget to eat which is like crazy, food is EVERYTHING and one of my greatest joys, so I can really tell when something is hitting my soul if I’ve gone all day happily starving and dehydrated.
Scout: What inspires you?
Inspiration? Inspiration spills out of my very pores. Honestly I’ve got too much of it. I’m constantly in awe of being alive and being here in this body at this time on this planet with this culture. There are details to notice endlessly. Mostly I turn to nature, the greatest artist. I often lean into psychology, spiritual practices and mortality as my messages and combine that with things I find beautiful; colors, lace, details, shiny things, sexy things. I could really use about three more bodies to manifest all the wants and visions my mind has. I assume most creative people feel similarly.
My true inspiration under it all is JOY. It is so easy to live a joyless life but after hitting my own personal rock bottom I choose to climb toward happiness. Art and creation is my best tool toward this goal. It gives me confidence, giddiness, a feeling of accomplishment and it’s how I build relationship with my personal god. Whoever created me, gave me abilities to tap into that allow me the privilege to create a life I admire and find beauty in. I cherish it and it’s the only thing I really want to do with this body: love and create.