We continue with our In The Beginning interview series, where we talk to Chelsea students about their experience of the early days on their course.
Next up is Sophia Vrahimi, who is currently in her first year on Chelsea’s BA Fine Art course. Sophia gives us a really broad view of her path towards studying at Chelsea and shows how she is highly engaged with projects in and outside of UAL.
What was your educational background before Chelsea?
I completed my A-levels at Davenant Foundation School in Essex, where I studied Fine Art, History and Psychology. Although they sound a little disconnected as subjects I found that both my history and psychology helped me to build on my artwork conceptually.
Studying history and psychology opened up a whole new world for me within my art, as I was able to use information I had learnt to make new, crazy and exciting artwork, for example about women’s history over the last 100 years in Psychopathology.
Alongside school, I also had the privilege to work with the artist Lauren Baker for the past three years on various projects such as making clay antlers for Harrods, a mural in Hackney Downs studios, a Vitamin Water exhibition, making resin tiger heads for Save The Tiger campaign, crystalizing a grand piano with half a million Swarovski crystals, creating neon sculptures and helping set up other events.
For the last year I have also been working each week with photographer Sophie Dunne as her personal assistant. I assist with her photography jobs such as events like Francis Segelman’s live sculpt and also weddings. Sophie has also taught me how to work in a studio environment by experimenting with different sets and communicating with clients.
Did it influence your choice of course and what you want to do?
Before I started sixth form at Davenant, I was unclear on what route I wanted to take in future. Despite this, once I started my fine art course it gave me a whole new enthusiasm for art that I had never experienced before.
I would 100% put this down to my A-level Art teachers who taught me to discover art in ways I hadn’t before. Also, being in such artistic environments with Sophie Dunne and Lauren Baker I just wanted to continue to indulge the artistic energy around me.
What are your main areas of interests?
My main areas of interest within art? That’s a tough question. I think it I don’t have specific ones. My interests are constantly changing and evolving due to the experiences I have and new things I have learned.
I never know what I am going to do next or what material I am going to use. I quite like the uncertainty of the way I work, as it doesn’t limit me to just go a bit crazy with my ideas, the crazier the better.
One interest that I do find is consistent is that I love to have reasons for my work, for every single detail. I find it satisfying when I work that way. I guess I can be criticized for not allowing interpretation to happen but I just can’t help it. I am a little controlling with my way of thinking especially with my art. Is that bad?
How have you found commuting?
I still live at home in Essex with my family. I find the commute OK. It only takes me 45 minutes. I enjoy living at home and living a double life, one in Chelsea and one back in Essex with my family and my job.
Obviously the commute can get tiring especially in times of rush hour however it is one tiny price to pay to come to Chelsea, so I don’t mind.
What was the reason you chose Chelsea?
My main reason for coming to Chelsea is because out of all the UAL colleges Chelsea made me feel the most comfortable, whilst still making me feel challenged. As well as this, Chelsea’s 3D workshops won me over within a flash! The variety that this university offers is incredible.
Chelsea has a magical aura that you can’t really explain in words. It has captured me under its spell and I feel privileged to be a part of the Chelsea Community.
How did you find the portfolio and interview experience?
I found it nerve wracking, but only because I’m a nervous person! The tutors and coordinators all made me feel so welcome and comfortable which was amazing. All the questions they asked in my interview were relevant and didn’t throw me off at all. I think once I was in the interview the nerves went out the window and my art was all I was concerned about. I guess you’ve just got to remember the main focus and that is just to know your work inside out.
Anything you’ve done in your first term that has really stood out at Chelsea?
I joined a zine ‘club’ called VERVE, which is super exciting as we will be having a couple of sales of the book collective VERVE at Chelsea! Keep an eye out for what is to come!
How have you found student life?
Funny enough I haven’t found it much different to my life before. I like to be busy and to always be doing something whether that be working at Chelsea, working in the photography studio or being with my family. I try to get involved in as many activities as possible.
Do you have any advice for students?
Yes, follow your heart, as cliché as it sounds. If you love it study it, you will only excel in life if you love the route you are in.
Nonetheless on an equally serious note, the best advice I have received since I have started is to make sure you sort out your time management. If you have a hectic life like me where university, work and family are pulling you all in different directions then I think it’s time you purchase a diary and write timed to do lists. It really does help! Time is everything! Use it wisely.
Check out Sophia’s art on her Instagram @SOPHVIAAA
Read more about BA Fine Art