We had the good fortune of connecting with Somsara Rielly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Somsara, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
This “work/life balance” business was such a popular topic of discussion a few years ago. There were so many articles – especially geared towards women – telling us how to achieve it. In the past, I tried as much as possible to keep my work and personal life separate – to have a delineation between “studio time” and “home time.” I would tell myself, “Don’t talk about clients, don’t talk about work over dinner, don’t think about work when you are relaxing with your husband or playing with your kid.” As a creative, it’s so hard to determine where “work” ends and “life” begins. There’s so much overlap how are they separate? It’s not as if one turns off their creative brain at 6pm and switches to “now life begins!” Creating IS my life, it’s where my unconscious brain goes whether I want it to or not, so trying to keep them separate was a fool’s errand. Once you start a family, this whole idea became even more impossible. It almost felt like some other entity was putting extra pressure on working moms to achieve this idea of “separation and balance.” Parenting and creating are really messy – of course they are going to run into each other! So, after failing at trying to keep them apart, I decided to try instead what felt much more natural and in line with my desire to be more holistically present – integrating them. This allowed me to view things like playtime with my son as inspiration and research time – some of my favorite pieces have come from play talk. Take your child to the printer with you, let them learn how a printing press works. Include them in the work–we love to make collages together. Talking about our days and creative projects over family dinner allows everyone to understand what we all dealt with that day. We share a “rose and thorn” of what worked well and what was hard that day, which helps us integrate what we’ve learned, transition into the evening, and have compassion for the work and school day we just had. Of course, I’ve had to learn to say to say “no” to some projects that could put undue strain on my family or health. I’ve also found it is possible to talk with your clients and ask them to be understanding when a pressing “life” situation comes up. It’s heartening to me how often clients will say “oh of course, take care of that we’ll talk tomorrow!” or “I understand, I have a small kid too!” Just being human and talking about your “life” with your “work” people can really make a difference. Finally, self-care (meditation, yoga, good coffee!), play time, and vacations are REALLY important – you have to put on your own oxygen mask first before you can help anyone else. For me, Work/Life Balance is a misnomer, but positive integration of work and life is possible!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Los Angeles native: an Artist, Creative Director & all-around seeker, my given name means “the eternal cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth” in Sanskrit (People always ask!) I started my career in Graphic Design, and after working in both LA and NYC studios, began to shift my emphasis to fine art, illustration, and animation. It has not always been an easy, clear, or linear path, but I have come to accept that the winding road is part of the process. Everything I have done before influences what I am doing now, even if the “title” of it shifts. The creativity and curiosity are the keys. In my work, I pull from personal narrative as well as a lifelong collection of vintage paper and ephemera, and ask the viewer to linger on and re-contextualize the familiar. My collage and mixed-media work weaves in layers of interpretation and plays with the seemingly random connections between things. I am propelled by a daily meditation practice, a curious mind, and a passion project called ARTxMAGIC which teaches the process of SoulCollage®. I have a deep desire to find magic in the everyday, while exploring the profound inner world that exists in each of us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve grown up in LA and have lived here most of my life so this is a pretty daunting question because I love so much of it, so I’m just going to focus on places lately where I get inspired, and things I like to ingest. Places I get inspired: Griffith Park & The Observatory, Huntington Library & Gardens, Monorovia Canyon Falls, Norton Simon Museum, LACMA, Hauser & Wirth, Rose Bowl Flea Market, PCC Flea Market, Bauer Pottery, Gold Bug, Spellbound Sky, Individual Medley, Folia Collective, Broome St. and General Store. Places for Coffee, Pastry & Cocktails: 3rd Street Farmers Market (Shoutout to Bobs Donuts), Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Seed Bakery, Proof Bakery, Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar, Little Flower Bakery, Café de Leche, Donut Friend, Jones Coffee, Jameson Brown Coffee Roasters, Fair Oaks Pharmacy, Goldline Bar, HomeState, Musso & Franks (best martini you’ll ever have), Melrose Umbrella Company, and El Coyote (Scratch margs, forever and ever).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I was fortunate enough to have Larry Vigon as my first creative director as a young designer. Larry was kind enough to take me under his wing at such an influential time in my creative growth, and teach me so many things you don’t learn in school. His unique approach to design from a fine art point of view is what influenced me the most. He encouraged me to start focusing on my own artwork to further explore the synchronicity between art and design, and find new ways to encourage interplay between the two. It was a very unconventional and uncompromising approach to “problem solving as an art form” that clearly changed my perspective and practice in ways I still use today. Larry was a catalyst for both my design and fine art career, and I am eternally grateful for that. larryvigon.com @larryvigon