Off the Record Episode 2 : Sierra Hood

Welcome to Off the Record, a series meant to inform, inspire and highlight women of color creating their own lane in their respective industries. If you were looking for boss women, you found them

Today, meet visual artist Sierra Hood (aka Sisi Hood).

Check out Sisi's Etsy here!



HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

I started drawing when I was really young. My babysitter taught me how to draw but we would always do paper dolls, so it kind of influenced my love of fashion and art. So I would draw bodies (female bodies mostly) and clothing and it just kind of started from there and I couldn't stop.

My parents always harbored a very creative environment and my grandmother was an artist. When I started making more erotic art they were open to it. They always [said], "You can go to school for art and make whatever kind of art you want, but you should go to school".

I went to school for fashion design but my art was always there and I would take art classes on the side because it was fun. When I first started getting serious about art, most of my paintings were vagina related, a lot of masturbation, but that wasn't for the erotic sense that was for self-love. 

WHAT IS A TIME YOU FAILED? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?

One of my biggest fails was probably las year. I quit my job and I quit school and I was going full-fledged freelance artist. I got commission for a big job and it was exciting and I put way too much on the line with that job. I didn't follow my protocol that I usually do and I didn't collect the deposit that was necessary and then it fell through. 

Now because of that, I have a protocol that I follow. I make sure to get deposits [and] I have contracts. Follow your guns when you believe something's not right.   

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR ART AND HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH EACH CONCEPT?

All of my art is female empowered. It has to do with finding the strength within yourself, empowering yourself, loving yourself, but the idea will just pop into my head and I can't get it out until I paint it and it'll be a random image [that] develops over time. 

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?

I do have my favorite artists: Yayoi Kusama, Takashi (Pom) Murakami, Frida Kahlo. It's kind of cliche but [Frida's] a bada*** woman so of course she inspires me.

A lot of my friends are creators, so they tend to motivate me. We motivate each other.  

WHAT ASPECTS OF YOUR WORK GIVE YOU THE MOST JOY? WHY?

Obviously, finishing a painting is the best thing in the world because a lot of times I'll have an idea and then I will knock it out in 24 hours and just seeing the process in my own time is the best feeling ever. Another thing I like is when other people are offended by my art or are really shy toward it. I feel like that's what it should be doing. It should make you uncomfortable, it should make you disturbed--if that's the word. I like having those discussion with people. I'll [ask], "Why do you think this is inappropriate?","Why don't you like this?" We'll elaborate and usually they'll be on my side at the end.  

NAME A HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR ART CAREER SO FAR

The biggest highlight of my career has probably been my solo art show.

HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO PUT TOGETHER A SOLO ART SHOW? 

It started as a random idea, but then I realized I needed money because there was no way I could pay for all of it. My friend offered up his house to host the art show at and it was completely free. But, I realized I still needed more money, so I put together a Paint 'N Sip randomly. We put it together in two weeks and it sold out within one week. We did a GoFundMe and surprising raised my entire goal. I had a tech guy that was doing my flyers and we collaborated on an installation in the art show. My other homegirl did tattoos at my closing show.

[With the show], I wanted to obviously highlight myself and all my other friends that are doing things.     

Seeing it pan out was crazy. I didn't even think I could do it, but seeing people excited for it and realizing that I can do all the things if I put my mind to it, it was weird how perfectly it went. We had failures but every time something came up, we fixed it right away and I [realized] I don't have time to be sad. I don't have time to freak out, I just [have to] fix it.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WANTING TO PURSUE ART?

There's a lot of people that told me, "You can't make a career out of art", "You need to go to school",  "You can''t do this yourself", but deep down inside I've always known that art is what I want to do and one way or another, whether I'm in school or not in school, I'm going to get to where I'm going.  

Holding back or waiting on people to give you opportunities won't get you anywhere. You just have to apply yourself, just keep going and just put out content and don't let people tell yo otherwise.   

HOW DID YOUR HERITAGE INSPIRE YOUR ART SERIES?

I'm Japanese, Filipino, Swedish, Danish, [and] Norwegian, so I took m Japanese heritage and applied that to my female empowered art. I named this series of paintings "Sukeban" which translates to girl boss in Japanese. The Sukeban were girl gangs in Japan in the 60s and 70s and they were violent, but they were very loyal to each other, they were very strong and strong-minded, so I feel like it just embodied me at this point in my life and the path I'm on.

 

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