1. In your own words – who is Sophie Kirk and what is your ‘mission’ in this current season of your life?
My mission in this current season of life is learning to cultivate patience and peace exactly where I am and within the unfolding of everything. During the past year especially, I have realised the importance of practicing presence and detachment from a need to control many aspects in my life.
A few years ago, during my last year of university, the name “A form in bloom” came to me one day as I was creating a title for my final project. Over the coming years, this simple title became the catalyst for my outlook on life and the way I thought about everything. It articulates the fact that we are all here to change and evolve in every way from our current “form” or “self” as we move through life. I have always been a creative person and my artistic journey has morphed and changed throughout my life. Looking back, I realise how instrumental every step was to get me to where I am today. Right now I mainly title myself as a still life stylist and art director, but I am also starting to feel more drawn to photography. I completely accept that my interests and creative pursuits will probably shift again and I’m excited for whenever that happens. This beautiful process is all part of the journey and I always try to make a conscious choice to find peace in the unfolding instead of fear of the unknown
The Noemi Earrings
2. How did your passion for still life styling and direction begin?
I have always loved creating “a set up” as my parents would say, whether hand making little items and arranging them in a home for my toys to live in as a child, styling and photographing objects I had bought at a homeware store in my teen years, to my current love of still life styling. It all came full circle, and I find it fascinating to be able to piece everything together and see how things organically evolved.
My interest in still life styling and direction was also influenced by my years at university where I studied fashion styling in London. Although I did not feel called to pursue the fashion aspect after I graduated, the years in my degree shifted the way I viewed my creative process and styling as a whole.
3. From your still life styling and direction, to your photography – you have a stunningly distinct point-of-view. What was your process or path like refining and honing your craft to where it is today?
Firstly, your kind words mean so much to me, thank you! There isn’t really any way to say it except that it happened organically and was never forced. I am very attracted to anything that feels grounding, calming and embodies a sense of stillness. This is always translated through what I create and capture because it feels the most authentic to me. It’s funny, I can be so indecisive in many aspects of my life, but never when it comes to my aesthetic preference. I like to calm the noise in life, instead of add to it. I prefer muted tones as opposed to harsh colour, and I like to create a meditative feel in my work with subtle signs of flow and softness. I also love to create a sense of collaboration with nature by utilising natural light, organic objects and seasonal plant materials.
4. During this unconventional time, what does a day in your life look like?
As to be expected during this time, my days vary so much especially being freelance. On some days I have meetings online or in real life now that things are opening back up again, and other days I’m deep in planning for an upcoming shoot or sourcing props and materials. On my quieter days, I often spend time experimenting with still life arrangements for my own personal projects which in turn helps me stay inspired for future client projects as well.
I think it’s also important to note that since I’m at the start of my freelance career, there are some weeks that feel really quiet and it’s definitely challenging for me. There always seems to be an unspoken awkwardness around not being busy/having many jobs lined up all the time and it can be challenging to not feel the pressure, for many reasons. I know I’m not the only one to struggle with this even among others who have been in the industry for longer than I have, but I do feel that it would help so many others if this topic was discussed more openly. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I have everything perfectly worked out and that this path is easy, because it’s definitely far from it! I think we all know this by now, but social media really can create the illusion of a perfect life. Of course no one wants to share the uncomfortable reality of some things, especially around their career. I have also been reminded by so many people recently to cut myself some slack during this time, it has been an unbelievably difficult time for everyone and it’s ok to be struggling. I hope this can bring some comfort to anyone reading this who finds themselves in a similar situation.
5. How has the pandemic impacted your creative pursuits?
The pandemic has been both a time of deep inner reflection and immense discomfort. I’ve had more time than I ever have before to explore my creativity, but it has also been really challenging as someone who is just starting out as freelance. At the start of the pandemic, I unexpectedly moved back to England after living in Toronto for the year prior. After going through a lot of struggles in my personal life, I was starting fresh in many ways. The pandemic gave me the chance to focus more on what I really wanted out of my creative career for the first time since graduating University. During all the extra free time, I began to develop my love for still life styling in an entirely new way and also started LK Studio, a still life styling and photography creative studio, with my friend Thea Løvstad. A lot still continues to be affected by the pandemic and some months are hard, but I’m also grateful for the time and space for introspection.
6. Where are you finding inspiration at the moment?
I always have a surge of inspiration in the late spring/summer months when the days are long and the light is the most beautiful. There is something about the vibrant energy in the warmer months that provides endless inspiration. Recently I’ve also been very inspired by the plant life around me and tiny inconspicuous weeds. I love to pay attention to small details that are often overlooked. Honestly though, inspiration can strike me at any time and often happens when I’m not looking for it. I think that’s just part of having a creative mind, you never really know when something can spark an idea!
7. When you encounter a ‘creative block’, what or where do you turn to, to revive that spirit?
I always try to be present to the feeling and listen within but I won’t lie, it can be really challenging. Like any creative person, I sometimes spiral into the mindset of “will I ever have any good ideas or create anything beautiful again?”. In these times, I always take a step back and sit in silence with myself, listen to whatever comes up and remind myself that my creativity will find its way back to me when I am ready to receive it. I trust my creativity as an innate part of my being and a light that never fades, only becomes slightly dim when I feel disconnected from myself. If I’m under a deadline and creating for a client (or even just feel a pull to create but feel uninspired), an exercise I often do is to take a few random objects, fruit etc from around the house and intuitively build a still life arrangement with my chosen objects. Even if I don’t love what I have created, it often spurs me on and gives me other ideas.
8. What rituals or activities are keeping you grounded and clear-minded right now?
Connecting with nature. It may be a given but it’s my number one. It allows me to connect with something outside of myself which not only gives me perspective but also calms my nervous system and brings me into the present. I also often collect materials for my still life styling which is always a positive distraction and gets me excited to create and experiment.
Another grounding practice that has become crucial for my mental health is sitting in total stillness while listening to either classical music or ambient soundscapes.
If I’m really in need of re-grounding, I like to prepare my surroundings by focusing on three elements - sound, sight, scent. Calming sounds/music to help my mind unwind, a clean space that is pleasing to the eye with lots of earthy tones, and a soothing or uplifting scent (right now I’m so in love with using Lauren’s All Purpose Salve as a hand balm and then taking a moment to savour the beautiful scent)
The Aurelie Chain
9. Any books, podcasts, shows or films that have resonated with you lately?
It’s rare that I find films/shows that I truly love… so below are a few books and podcasts that have been resonating recently. I love anything that reconnects me to my body and my relationship with the earth.
Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World by Linda Hogan
Devotions by Mary Oliver
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (a very loved book that I re-read every year)
SoundFood by Nitsa Citrine
The Expanded podcast by To Be Magnetic
Live Awake by Sarah Blondin.
10. Name something upcoming that you're excited for
Right now, I am really excited to expand my work in photography. It’s something I have been truly passionate about since I was about 16 but haven’t actively pursued until recently due to a lot of limiting beliefs that I’m slowly unlearning. It really makes me happy to follow my heart and pay attention to where I’m intuitively being guided.