Interview: Sonia Stegemann’s Vibrant & Dreamy Digital Portraits

This interview was originally published in July 2019 as part of a series of interviews with artists and creators! These interviews will be slowly brought back and updated to my new blog for you to read. If you’re an artist or creator and you’re interested in participating, please contact me.

Sonia Stegemann is a 21-year-old artist based in Lübeck, Germany. It’s pretty easy to spot her work all over the internet at this point as her style is so unique. Her anime-inspired portraits are colorful, soft and creatively reflect the best of people’s individuality.

She is a fellow Sagittarius who is interested in all things art, animation, dolls and cats related. An artist she admires is Jacquelin Deleon.

The portrait on my website’s homepage was done by Sonia and I was so impressed by how much care and thought she put into the process. Of course, it’s also really freaking cute. Her line-work is pressive and while her art always has a bubbly, softness to it, there’s something very sharp and refined about it.

She runs an equally colorful YouTube Channel, so if you’re interested in learning about and improving your artistic techniques, you should check it out and subscribe.

If you want to see more of her work and purchase some prints or stickers, she runs an Etsy shop. My personal favorite of her works is her “Protea” illustration (which I have framed on my wall!!).

When did you first begin creating art?

I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember but started taking art more seriously about two or three years ago when I started my Instagram account! Drawing every day and sharing it online has really helped me improve and stay consistent!

By what and whom are you inspired by? 

Ever since I was little I felt very inspired by animated movies and games like the Studio Ghibli films and Final Fantasy. The first artist I was obsessed with was Arina Tanemura, a mangaka from Japan. I’ve collected all her mangas and art books and am still following everything she does! Right now I’ve been watching a lot of doll repainting videos actually and am feeling super inspired by this art form!

In a few short sentences or bullet points, outline your average thought process when creating a piece from start to finish. 
  • initial idea / browsing for reference material (this is one of my favorite things!)
  • rough sketch, with this I try to stay as loose as possible to keep it dynamic!
  • drawing in the lines, coloring and shading. Linework is my favorite part of an illustration I think. I don’t know why but I love it. I also really like to experiment with new shading techniques.
  • adding effects like grain and color adjustments to capture the feeling of the drawing as good as possible
Were you ever discouraged from pursuing your artistic endeavors?

Yes, a lot of times, actually, and every now and again that feeling comes back. I think it’s in the nature of an artist to feel unsatisfied and wanting to improve, but that just means that your taste in art is improving and then is the most important time to keep going!

Imposter syndrome is something I struggle with a lot but I’m too passionate about art and feel too blessed by my community to ever stop creating!

What is your favorite part of your creative process? Least favorite? 

I love coming up with ideas for projects, collecting reference material and sketching everything out! I also love seeing finished projects and holding them in my hands like a finished zine or stickers. Leading up to the end of a project there can be moments where it’s getting repetitive or boring and you are kinda losing passion which can be tough but it’s worth it!

How do you know when the piece you’re working on is finished? 

I have pretty much the same process for all my drawings and follow the same steps so it’s mostly adding effects in the end where I need to find the right point to stop which can be hard! 

You’re extremely busy with portrait commissions for people, and the work you create for them reflects their individuality beautifully. What is the best part of doing portraits? 

Aw haha yes I do a lot of them! I love getting input for the drawing like their favorite flower or pictures of a pet they want me to add! And it’s the most amazing feeling to hear that someone likes the drawing you’ve made and talking to and getting to know people all over the world! I’ve met so many incredible and interesting people through commissions!

What is one piece of art that recently moved you? (No medium restriction here — drawing/illustration, painting, film, games, writing, etc.) 

I get very easily moved my good music. Sad 90’s songs are my weakness! Something that has made me cry was the movie Rocketman. Elton John has always been one of my most favorite musicians and the way Taron Egerton portrayed him and his life really moved me!

Esmeralda” by Sonia Stegemann
How do you think one grows as an artist? 

Growing means learning and exploring new things! Drawing every day and trying to find things to improve will make you grow. Getting new impulses like changing mediums can also make you broaden your skill set! Being able to combine skills from different creative fields can be very beneficial like when I started studying graphic design I was able to use that knowledge to improve my content which made me grow I think.

As an artist, what does “success” look like for you? 

I feel successful when I look back and see improvement in my own art! That’s something very important to me which is why I like to redraw old art and see what I do differently! Something else that makes me feel successful is stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new like when I started doing YouTube videos or got into animation! That can be very scary but overcoming that initial fear will make you stronger and able to tackle new things!

Your style is unique and easily recognizable. Do you have any advice for artists who are trying to develop their own style? 

Thank you! Style is actually something I was very worried about when I first got started on Instagram. What helped my was to find an initial way I was going to draw taking parts and things I liked from the artists I admire like the way someone draws an eyebrow or hands. From there on I kept learning about anatomy and just by drawing every day my style just developed over time! That’s something I heard a lot of artists say and never believed but it’s true!

Do you ever find yourself stuck and struggling to finish a piece? Can you offer advice to artists who get stuck or face a lack of motivation? 

Yes that happens sometimes! It helps to look at references if you are stuck at a hand or something like that or start over changing the pose slightly and redoing the lines. If I don’t feel motivated I take a short break browsing through Pinterest, watching a movie that inspires me, or looking at an art book I love! It also helps to go outside and do something to change perspective, depending on how much time I have available! If you feel burned out it’s okay to take breaks and come back later!

What is a piece you are especially proud of? 

I’m super happy with how my Mermay Zine has turned out and am excited to receive the printed copies! In one piece, which is also on the cover, I’ve used a different perspective and I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with that lately!

Any new projects or events you’ll be at that we should look out for? 

This is still in the works but I’m currently working on my own Patreon page which I’m super excited about! I feel like that would be such a great way to interact on a more personal level and maybe do live streams in the future which would be super cool! Something that’s kinda far in the future but I’m still looking forward to is Inktober this year! I can’t wait to do some cute witchy drawings!

Sonia recently finished her Mermay Zine project, and is currently rebuilding her childhood doll house.

Check out and support Sonia’s work on Etsy, Patreon, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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