I always loved drawing!
People who know me from school, remember that I always drew sketches in my books and my classmates’ books at their request. At home, the calendar or phone books were all filled with my sketches. Any blank piece of paper I could find I would use it to draw something!
I grew up in Tehran/Iran. My major in high school was math and physics. Then I studied French literature at university. So, I never pursued a career in arts until I moved to Vancouver and decided to study Interior Design. After graduating, I started working in the interior design field and worked with many people from different backgrounds and cultures. This helped me to expand my knowledge of people, structure, building, and discipline.
In fall 2018, I was going through difficult times and major life changes. That was when I found music and art as an escape from stress and a way to express myself. I found colors to be healing and I wanted them to be as vibrant as possible. I spent many nights in meditation and found that my subconscious is the best source for inspiration.
In less than 5 months, I was selected to participate in RAW Artists group exhibition and from there, my art career took off fast. I met more artists and had more and more exhibitions.
I am a self-taught artist and a synesthete artist. Meaning I have Synesthesia so when I listen to music, I see colors and scenes that I recreate in my paintings. Music is the first step for me to create anything new. When I am not doing art, I enjoy dancing, reading books and learning about psychology and symbolism.
How would you describe what you do? And how did you discover that this is your purpose?
Sepi: I do paintings because I enjoy it. It all happened naturally and gradually. Very much like everything else in life. I always liked drawing. What I do comes from music and meditation. I have synesthesia and enjoy listening to music. Every time I need inspiration, I play music and the scenes just happen in my mind’s eye.
I did not see painting as my purpose right from the beginning. One day I picked up colorful markers at the store and found that I really enjoy using vibrant colors. There was a thirst inside me that felt fulfilled with these colors and I just really enjoyed the process. I didn’t have enough confidence to share my first paintings and messaged my best friend who lives in Poland and asked her what she thinks about sharing my work on my Instagram. When she saw the pictures, she forced me to share them. From there I kept posting my work and found more and more fans and it naturally became my purpose to create a piece and make everyone excited.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Sepi: I use Gouache on paper. Gouache is water-based and is not very forgiving so I can’t make mistakes really! All my art is drawn first on paper and then I decide what colors to use and where to use them. I think the style is closer to Surrealism and has some art deco features. And my subject matter is almost always a character and their interaction with some event or another person. They are always in the middle of doing something that will change their destiny.
What is the message you are trying to give with your art?
Sepi: My goal is to take my viewers to the depths of our subconscious. To our archetypes. My characters all have their own symbols and personalities. Some of them are inspired by real people in my life and that is what makes us able to connect with them on a deep level even though they look like aliens. They are really us. My characters all have specific personalities and fashion. They are stylish and they usually have a guide with them. Some of them are childish and funny. Some are little tricksters. Some are in search of the truth.
I like using symbols as a language for viewers to use and interpret the meaning for themselves. Symbolism and mythology are a huge influence on my work as well. Psychology, archetypes, sexuality, and spirituality can all be found in my work.
What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have a specific routine or process?
Sepi: A typical day in the week is work. I indulge myself in my full-time job which involves talking to a lot of people day by day and giving interior design consultation. I do use my creativity during the day, but it is mostly limited to residential interior design and what my clients like for their homes. I always listen carefully to them and learn about who they are and what they want to achieve. Some people know what they want but the majority need direction and I have to ask them a lot of questions to understand their lifestyle and taste. Colors that they like, shapes that they like or hate. How many people in the family, their personalities, responsibilities, needs and concerns.
In the evening when I am at home, I listen to a lot of music and do a lot of meditation. Those 2 are the key to open the doors of my creativity. Specially meditating for 15-40 minutes per day. I almost always do art and painting until late at night. I’ve always been a night owl and enjoy nighttime.
You grew up in Tehran/Iran but moved to Vancouver. Does your family background influence your life and work as an artist and if yes, how?
Sepi: Yes it definitely does. There are certain elements that I use which are similar to traditional Persian miniature painting. Those type of paintings are usually telling a story as well and have small details and gold metallic paint in them.
Persian and Mesopotamian mythology and some symbols that are sacred to Persians such as fire can be found in my work. I also love “One Thousand and One Nights” stories. They were always magical to me as a child and inspired my art as well.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
Sepi: I wanted to be a writer first and used to write books. Then I wanted to be a painter and it became true eventually!
You say art and music helped you through some difficult times recently. Can you tell us a bit more about that? And tell us a bit more about you being synesthesia artist. When have you discovered that you have that gift?
Sepi: Music came before the art. Music helps with brain development and it really helped me with depression episodes that I had. I was dealing with trauma and what a lot of people experience as spiritual awakening when they heal their trauma. It was the first time for me to understand the other side of our existence and consciousness. I was searching psychology books for answers and found Carl Jung to be specifically the most accurate in explaining what I was going through. When you are depressed or have anxiety, you really cannot control your thoughts. You can’t help yourself and people can’t understand you. It is really up to you to find a tool that calms you down. And that tool is inside you as a talent or a task that you probably do without paying much attention to it. You have to channel your emotions and energy through that task. In my case, I started listening to a lot of trance music to uplift my mood and find my strength and it really helped me. It felt like my brain was showing me a movie with colors and shapes floating in the space. I could spend hours just listening to music and look at the downtown Vancouver buildings from my sunroom. It was magical. And eventually, lead me to paint again.
I discovered my Synesthesia in 2015. Before that, I had no idea. One day I watched a TED Talks episode from David Eagleman, the neurologist, and what he explained was exactly how I saw the world. I love his work and research on the human brain. Then I did the online Synesthesia test twice to make sure that I have it and discovered that I have 97% color synesthesia and a bit of sound and space synesthesia. There are so many different kinds.
As a Synesthete artist, I’m always in search of good music from any genre. Sometimes I listen to trip-hop, jazz, solo piano, Indian tabla, etc. Anything that inspires me. Eastern or Japanese Drum solo and Indian Tabla are also my favorites, especially for meditation. These sounds help to expand my imagination which then leads to creating art.
What artists influenced you the most and why?
Sepi: Dali and Gustav Klimt. I like the dreamy feeling of their work. In the field of design, Jaime Hayon. I had the chance to see his collaboration at IDS 2017 in Vancouver and fell in love with his work right away.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Sepi: I receive memorable responses all the time from people that I know or meet at my art shows. Especially when someone can find themselves in a piece or relate to a character that’s a really good feeling. I feel proud and know that I have done the right thing. And the fact that I have fans from different age groups, backgrounds, and beliefs are very interesting to me as an artist.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Sepi: The best way I think these days is online and for me through Instagram. I’m always sharing my work and the process stories with my fans to inspire them to do art or some kind of creative work as well. All the social media platforms have become the place to find each other, just the same way that I was given the chance to have this interview with your team. We have to use this tool as best as we can to promote art and useful things for people.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Sepi: Unfortunately a couple of my favorite shows got canceled this year due to Covid-19. One was Vancouver’s independent artist market at the Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver which attracts a lot of local artists and art lovers.
The other one was a live painting at a Mindset music party. But having said that, the artist community is still alive, and we have collaborations with art and music through Virtual Rave series but this time online. I have been doing a few live paintings on zoom and people can find artists, DJs, and performers on these virtual rave series arranged by Mindset music.
I am not planning on having any workshops at this time just for safety reasons until things settle a little bit. If anything changes, I will announce it on my Instagram page.
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Sepi: That is definitely something that I hope to achieve. My art and spirituality are intertwined. The reason I chose vibrant colors was to bring excitement to the eyes of the viewers and give them something beyond the ordinary life and make them happy. I live in Vancouver which is very grey and rainy most days. I hope I can bring this colorful excitement to rainy days for people. I want people to look at my art and feel the fire in their hearts. Be excited and feel alive. Then think about the message that is behind the painting, ask themselves a lot of questions and eventually heal with a smile.
To find out more about Sepi and her art, please check: