Manuela Soto Sosa is a Swiss-Uruguayan artist known for her work with tattoos and illustration, which she uses to empower women's body positivity. In 2018, she designed the cover art Billie Eilish's "When the party's over" single and last year she opened her tattoo studio SOFTFLEX in Downtown Los Angeles.
On November 1st, Sosa is debuting her first collaboration with Savage x Fenty which will feature a range of styles incorporating her artistic style into each and every piece made. PAPER caught up with the artist to see how the Tattooed Tricot Collection came about and what it was like to work with Rihanna's lingerie label.
Tell us a bit about how this collaboration started. Did you ever expect to work with Rihanna?
When I received that first email asking to collaborate, I almost passed out! I was in tears. Literally a dream come true!
Rihanna is such a role model for me because I always felt she lets her intuition guide her without taking people's opinions into account and that's why she always wins! Her creative explorations, her business mindset...she's the most powerful woman of our generation and I'm so incredibly grateful to be working with her [brand].
What was the collaborative process like with Savage X Fenty?
The whole Savage X Fenty team is incredible and gave me total freedom to explore different ideas. The first deck I presented had 11 different concepts and but chosen concept was my OG Soto girls.
Your aesthetic is so uniquely you— a glamorous, glitzy, yet gritty baddie who takes no shit. How important to you is it to keep that brand image within collaborations? Does it influence what artists and labels you agree to work with?
It's incredibly important to me that the message doesn't get lost. Throughout my years as a tattoo artist, I have been using the Soto girls to create self-portraits as a way to visualize inner power and have a reminder of who we are/want to be when times get hard. Drawing them personally helped me heal trauma related to abuse and body dysmorphia. I am glad I've been able to empower my tattoo clients and give them a chance to redefine who they are inside and wear it proudly on their skin. I keep the same mindset when designing clothes or choosing my collaborators. I'm looking to perpetuate this feeling of self-confidence and powerful femme energy, the perfect balance of softness and aggression.
If you could wear one of the pieces you contributed to with your art every day, which would you wear and why?
Do you know how incredibly difficult it is to find a comfortable bra?! This one is so comfy and equally as sexy. I love a see-through bra.
What makes the perfect sleepwear, bra, or lingerie to you?
I like comfortable and breathable underwear; I honestly spend most days in cotton granny panties and sweats! When I gotta show off I like a black see-through mesh set or baby color lace lingerie.
So much of your artwork and clothing revolves around one particular character and aesthetic—did you try to keep this image In your mind while designing and conceptualizing the collaboration?
One of my most popular illustrations is this giant mega babe sucking on a lollipop sitting on a tiny cityscape. Savage X Fenty loved her attitude so the one we used for the collection is highly inspired by her.
Moving into a different medium, lingerie specifically, did you find yourself adapting your creative process since it's so radically different from what you design at Soto Worldwide?
It was actually a happy medium between designing streetwear for Soto Worldwide and my work as a tattoo artist, I had to use technical knowledge from both sides and merge it together. Creating tattoo compositions that accentuate and embellish the right curves on the body and then all the technical aspects of designing to print on fabric, grading and pattern making; it was an incredible experience. I've learned so much working with Savage X Fenty.
So much of your art style is visible through your Instagram, and obviously, your incredible tattoos at SOFTFLEX. You cover so many mediums, from streetwear, to 3D illustration, to tats. What's the next project you'd love to take on?
I'm so incredibly blessed to have so many new projects already in the making! I am currently working on my first animated show "Tender Force" with Pizzaslime, produced by AMC Studios, such an exciting challenge. I'll also be showing my first large scale sculpture with Jeffrey Deitch Gallery for Miami Art Basel this December which will give an entire new dimension to my work. Overall, I'm really excited to see this Savage X Fenty collaboration come out and see what the future brings,
Photos courtesy of Savage x Fenty
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