Sophie Mazzaro

I believe there are two types of people - non creatives and creatives. I’m a true-blue example of the latter. And I have been that way for as long as I can remember. There is nothing I don’t paint on or that I won’t customize. My creativity never stops. 

A lot has happened since Sophie Mazzaro painted on the walls of her nursery in Berlin. She's become a world-renowned visual artist, designs custom sneakers for celebrities and recently got a lot of recognition for the Kobe Bryant tribute mural in Venice Beach. Sophie is a true go getter and shared with berlin-losangeles the qualities that brought her where she is today. And more so, what we can expect from her own streetwear label launching very soon.

You've started your career fairly young. When did you know you wanted to pursue painting for a living?

I started drawing when I was 5 years old. I drew and painted on everything, even my bedroom walls as a kid. I made custom clothes, I started learning how to build with wood. I sold my first custom painted sneakers at 16 years old and started to notice there’s an audience for what I create. Around age 24 I was selling my paintings and later on started murals and realized it’s not the dollar amount I’m after, but rather getting paid to do what I love in general is already a success.

Your style as an artist in three words: 

Vibrant. Detailed. Powerful.

When did you first come to Los Angeles and what makes you stay?

I moved to LA at 19 years old all by myself not knowing a single soul here. I came for school, and just found it hard to go back home after getting used to the sunshine and good weather. Like most people I know I didn’t feel at home right away, it took me a couple of years to truly feel like I belong here. The one constant that got me through everything were my friends - most of them I met within my first few weeks here and they are still my closest allies. LA gets this reputation for being a breeding ground for shallow people, but it also can make it easier to make new connections. My friends are from everywhere in the world, especially Europe, and keep me grounded and connected to my home values.

What has been your favorite & most meaningful project to work on in Berlin and LA?

It’s difficult to pick a favorite piece because truly I have so many memories about everything I’ve painted, but one of my most meaningful ones was a Kobe Bryant Tribute mural I painted at the famous pier in Venice. In the beginning it was simply painted for my friend who was close to the Bryant family, but it kept drawing in huge crowds that watched me paint it and ended up on the news. Normally I paint with my headphones on, but at some point, I turned around and there were over a hundred people behind me watching me paint. They came up to me and shared their personal stories about how Kobe inspired them or affected their lives. It was just incredible. They put down flowers, candles and letters and it really gave them a location to grieve and express themselves. At night when the crowd was gone, a deaf-mute girl came up to the mural and communicated with my mural in sign language. It brought the rest of us to tears. That truly spoke volumes about the power of artwork. And I felt honored to be included in my hometown in Venice to be a part of Los Angeles history.

The pandemic has thrown some curve balls at all of us - how has the corona virus changed your life and work? 

My life started changing two weeks before the pandemic broke out- because I was involved in a car accident, sitting in the passenger seat when a speeding driver T Boned my side of the vehicle. I suffered a brain aneurysm, a concussion and damage to my spine. By the time we all went into lockdown I had already been in the emergency room and then tied to my bed for weeks. I couldn’t really move or lift my arms and especially not paint. Who could have known at that time that some of my injuries were going to be permanent. Then the pandemic started, and I was losing jobs left and right. Most of them were live paintings at events and gigantic projects that I had been working towards for months. It killed my spirit for a while and I really had to take a hard break from everything and focus on my health. 

Again, I started something for my friends that turned into a blooming business, because I was sewing masks for them at the point where you had two + weeks waiting time for anything you ordered online. So, I got out my sewing machine and started making them. Everyone shared it on their social media and all the sudden I had more orders than I could keep up with. I worked around 15 hours a day from production to shipping and invoicing and did everything by myself. That really gave me a lot of hope and joy in times where mural jobs were nonexistent and with my injuries sewing and sitting at my desk was the only thing I was able to do.  

What are three qualities that brought you where you are right now?

I’m tenacious. I never never never ever give up. I’ve come damn close a million times, but in the end, I keep going or try something new. If you really want something you have to go after it with everything you got. My mom gave me the absolute best words of wisdom about the right amount of stubbornness: Wer will, der kriegt. It translates roughly to “those who want it, get it” 

My creativity. I believe there are two types of people - non creatives and creatives. I’m a true-blue example of the latter. And I have been that way for as long as I can remember. I’m the only artist in my family, everyone else is in tech. But I was always supported with so much love and understanding for my career choices that it was just fun for me to create and make everything myself. Boring furniture? I painted on it or upcycled it. I didn’t want to wear clothes that everyone else had, so I sewed and painted my own. The house needs new drywall? I’ll just learn to do it myself. There is nothing I don’t paint on or that I won’t customize. My creativity never stops. 

My attention to detail. I truly can’t hide my German genetics here because I am a perfectionist and need everything on point. From picking out the perfect paints and materials to the finished piece - I always give 120% for my clients. Sometimes my friends will need to tell me that a project is done, otherwise I would just keep working on it for two more weeks and make minor changes that no one besides me would even notice.

We can't wait for your own streetwear label to launch. What's the vision behind Mazzaro? What can we expect?

Just like the graffiti world, streetwear is just another field where women are mostly excluded. I grew up a total tomboy around boys, and still am that way. Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit into the LA glamour world of plastic surgery, high heels and hair extensions. That’s kinda how this idea was born. I thought there must be other girls out there who dress somewhat in the middle of all that- kinda down to earth, practical, skaters and who are sneakerheads. Shoe brands often don’t even make certain shoes in women’s sizes and some brands straight up don’t include women’s clothing. I want to change that. The Mazzaro brand will be mostly black and white, hoodies, Tees and of course - lots of colorful sneakers.

Creator fatigue or burnout is likely something you have felt or at least heard about from other artists. Can you share where you find inspiration and what keeps you motivated?

I absolutely burnout or need to gather inspiration all the time. Some ideas I get while I'm in the gym working out. Oddly, it’s a very calm space for me to think. I also keep a notepad by my bed so in case I dream of something weird or have a new idea, I can write it down. But most of my ideas and color inspirations come from traveling. 

I get completely absorbed into another culture and their artwork. I started a whole series based on Miami’s pastel colors, and just recently visited Mexico which gave me so many new ideas for paintings and color schemes. I’m an observer and really everywhere I go, I just take in and process :)

Sophie working on the graffiti mansion
Sophie working on the Kobe Bryant tribute mural in Venice Beach
Customized Nike Jordan 3's by Sophie
Sophie in her element

Sophie started painting when she was 6 years old. Whether it was the walls of her nursery, doodling on notebooks or getting kicked out of classes for drawing on her desk. She was born in Berlin, Germany, and moved to the US by herself at age 16 barely speaking English.

Since settling in Los Angeles she has become a world-renowned visual artist, custom sneakerhead, and muralist. Her client list and collaborations include Steve Aoki, Halle Berry, RedFoo, Dj Skee, The Bob Marley Estate, the Simpsons and Pizza Hut to name a few. Her creations were part of Miami Art Basel and LA's brand-new Sneaker exhibit Sneakertopia. In addition to her artistic creations, she graced the pages of Maxim magazine as a 2019 Maxim Cover Girl.

LA seems to be the right fit for Sophie’s talent and soul. She resides in Marina del Rey with her pet lizard and goes to bed when others get up. Sophie’s mom calls her a "Freigeist", which means free spirit in German and says about her lack of helping in the household that “Free spirits don't take out the trash.”

More about Sophie

Instagram @sophie.mazzaro

Sophie Mazzaro


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