SOFAHOOD FOR SHUTTERSTOCK'S 
THE CREATE FUND: DISABILITY ALL IN

SOFAxSNaP-DTV-tales_1-justinei_edited.jpg

#1

“SNaP Co’s ‘Deeper Than Visibility’ Report

Digital (2022)

#2

Canva Collection 'Coming of Age'

Digital (2022)

3_edited.jpg
8_edited.jpg

#3

Canva Collection 'Coming of Age'

Digital (2022)

#4

SOFAHOOD Original Illustration (Untitled)

Digital (2022)

4_edited.jpg

#2

Canva Collection 'Coming of Age'

Digital (2022)

3_edited.jpg
5_edited.jpg

#5

SOFAHOOD Original Illustration (Untitled)

Digital (2022)

#6

SOFAHOOD Original Illustration (Untitled)

Digital (2022)

6_edited.jpg
SOFAHOOD-MOR-headshot_edited.jpg

about the artist

Afro-Latinx and Atlanta-based visual artist,
SOFAHOOD, has been creating since the age of 4 and has since expanded her illustrations into murals around the city of Atlanta. She is a Georgia State University graduate with a degree in sociology and a certificate in queer studies. Her knowledge of oppressed identity blended with her desire to be an independent artist have allowed her to explore her communities in a unique way through public painting and digital illustration. As an artist with a laundry list of marginalized identities, SOFAHOOD creates to eternalize the complex feelings and ordinary moments of the silenced and the oppressed. This message bursts through in all forms of her expression: cathartic, political work; revived archives; pop culture illustrations; and inclusive murals. Through loud colors and even louder subject matters, SOFAHOOD creates a home for the very valid emotions and experiences of the unheard.

proposal

          As someone who has spent the majority of their life being othered, my work constantly comes from the framework of: who will this piece serve as a home for? Both in my work and in my life, I find it extremely necessary to create space for those with visible and “invisible” disabilities. As a sociology student, I learned that disabilities don’t always mean physical handicaps. In our society, often times “disability” means anything that others an individual and acts as a blockade towards social and economic success. In this way, queerness, Blackness, fatness, mental illness, and other forms of marginalization (along with physical handicaps) all “disable” individuals. As someone who is queer, Black, fat, and mentally ill, and as someone who creates work for people like me, my work has always and will always center those that society has silenced, othered, and disabled.

          Throughout my years of creating, I have always been interested in portraiture. As I’ve practiced over the years, portraiture has become my specialty. When illustrating or painting individuals, I focus on what makes the subject unique and what the subject wants to be seen as. For this reason, I like to choose reference photos that show the subject in all of their uniqueness and authenticity while also respecting the subject’s wishes to control their image. For example, when working with transgender clients, I ask if they would prefer me to illustrate them as more masculine or feminine, and with or without surgery scars (ex. top surgery chest scars, bottom surgery arm scars, and/or facial feminization surgery scars). When working with physically disabled clients, I ask if they would prefer me to illustrate them with or without their disability aide (ex. wheelchair, hearing aid, cane, glasses, etc.) In this way, I am using my art to help those who, like me, have been othered to celebrate themselves and take control over their self-image.

          Through stock art imagery, the opportunity for celebration of authenticity and bodily autonomy could become much more accessible. Stock imagery is often used to display or exemplify “the average person” doing common things. However, when we go to these images for reference (like I do for my original illustrations), we see the same types of people: thin, able-bodied, conventionally attractive individuals. When referencing these stock photos for my own work, I alter the individuals for my illustration so that both I and my community feel seen. I do this by making subjects fatter; giving subjects browner skin tones; illustrating subjects with alternative haircuts, piercings, and tattoos; adding gender-affirming surgery scars; and using other design elements to represent other identities. In this way, I’m making stock images what I want them to be, what they need to be: diverse, accurately representative, and inclusive.

          This summer, I had the opportunity to tangibly challenge the stock content industry by creating queer stock illustrations for a website building company. I created 26 stock illustrations, all surrounding the theme of coming into one’s queer identity. The public response to these stock illustrations was overwhelming and empowering. When I shared the illustrations on my social media, folks expressed how seen they felt. A friend who works in public health was able to use one of these illustrations to accurately represent and speak to their target audience. These reactions and this outreach are the reason why I took on the project and create the work that I do: to validate and share the emotions and experiences of the communities that society refuses to see.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION