Interview with Sofia Jansson of Mokkasin
What do you consider yourself?
I used to say that I’m a creator and a photographer mainly. I’m not sure if creator is a commonly used word in English, but I am a person who does a lot of creative projects. My focus is often on prop/set design and DIY. And my job as a photographer, which I am almost exclusively doing these days, includes building the scene for the photos and hand making all of the props. Absolutely not a business person, that is the last I would call myself.
Who helped you “become” who you are?
I would say that my four kids have made me into the person I am. Their free way of seeing the world and their never ending fantasies have influenced me so much. In their minds they’re not so anxious about their worlds, it’s true and imperfect which, for me, is a very perfect way of being.
Do you feel like you’ve arrived at what you set out to do?
Yes I think so. Nowadays I do so many different things. No two days are alike, and I love it that way. It’s very easy for me to say YES even if I didn’t know if I could manage the project load. Maybe it is for this reason that I love my job so much, it is never boring and makes me stretch and develop every minute to meet the needs of each project.
What more would you like to “become”?
I would like to work more with set design. If I could do it all again I would probably go receive my education in art directing, that’s a dream of mine. Nowadays I work on projects within this spectrum, but I dream about the big traditional theaters and doing set design and art direction. It would also be very fun to be really good at building things, like a carpenter. Or a glass artist! Ohh there are so many things I would love to learn.
Where did you study, and what did you study?
I haven’t studied more than high school, and after high school I studied to be a hairdresser. I worked in this field for 10 years and loved every day. But, one day I decided to quit, and I have never looked back. I think, if you do something creative you must have some fire inside you, you must love your work. If you don’t, as it was for me that day, it’s better to find another path.
How did you get started doing what you do?
Actually, everything began when I started to run a little shop. I built all the marketing with my own pictures. The same day I started the shop I also started a blog, and THAT is where everything started. The blog transformed from a business blog that connected to the shop, to a lifestyle blog featuring almost exclusively my own pictures. People found me that way and the blog continued to live as a sort of portfolio. In that way, beside running the shop I got more and more assignments with focus at photography, styling and DIY. One lead to the other.
When did you discover your love for your work?
I think I have the blog to thank for that, I love the format. I love to tell stories with words and pictures. The blog has let me create my own universe that only my way of seeing things exists.
Were you scared when you first started looking for jobs? How did you overcome this?
This sounds like some kind of humble brag, but I’m so lucky that the question of “will I have work?” crossed my mind but was never an issue, I have not had to ask or go looking for work. However, I’m not a nervous person in general and I say “yes” without thinking if I can really manage the job people are asking for. After I have said yes, I sometimes can doubt myself. But I’m lucky to have a husband that always gives me encouragement time and time again.
What’s your goal with your work?
To always do jobs that follow my gut feeling and heart. And to always have the work have as much of my personal touch on touch in it as possible, not to follow some others. To constantly be true to myself even in the work I do.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am proud of many things! That Numero 74 chose me as their photographer many years ago and that I still get to work with them, they are always passionate their work and their way of seeing the world. This has helped me to develop myself and my vision.
I am always proud when people ask for props/set design and use them in theater and books. These occasions make everything seem so real. That someone would choose the things you have made by your own hands to achieve their dreams.
And, of course, I’m proud of the book Hidden Places. I’m so proud that that book is exactly as I want it to be. I wished to create a kind of book that hadn’t been done before. Something new and more than just a DIY-guide. During the whole process I wanted the book not to be anxious and stacked in norms and structures. I wanted the photographs to have big spaces and to let the text take space and be grounded in the amazing fantasies of my children. I wanted the illustrations and format to be skewed in a good way. When viewing the book you shouldn’t have the feeling that everything is perfect, things are not always but rather creative and full of fantasy and life. Every time someone gives me feedback about the book I’m so very proud and it makes me really happy!
What is it like working with your family?
So many projects during the year have involved my family. My husband and my four kids. I really love this and for me it is a huge gift, that everything is like a family affair. My kids have helped me relax and let go of control in a very good way. Before, when I was younger, I was a person that wanted control of everything and everyone. When they were born, 4 kids in 4 years I couldn’t live up to this perfect surface anymore and I think that was my rescue. My husband always saves me, both in life but also with jobs and projects. When I am lost he always has a good idea. He is hugely creative and I trust him one hundred percent. I think many people perceive us as quite a messy family with a thousand projects that go on. And, maybe our house is a little bit different but I think it is only in a good way.
How did your childhood influence what you have become?
I played a lot and fantasy was always intense, close and felt very real. I remember when I and one of my sisters ventured into imaginary lands years after our friends had stopped. We built our own worlds and a with games we loved we could continue for weeks, nobody was allowed to clean it away. Every summer we stayed at my parents little cottage in the woods, there was no electricity and the TV was from a car battery which meant that we just had TV for a short moment in the morning. We played from sunrise to sunset during those endless summers, our stick horses took us around in the woods. We had our own fun fair, where the old stroller doubled as the roller-coaster.
Did you feel pressured in any way to pursue a certain career path?
Not at all, my mom and dad have always encouraged me and my two sisters to go our own way and told us that the future is ours, exactly equal as it is for everyone else.
What’s your work space like?
We live in a big house built in 1913, the whole house is my work space. It’s my photo studio and it’s a space that makes it possible (for everyone) to be creative all over the house. Every part of the house, from cellar to attic, is filled with things and ongoing projects.
What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?
I think it comes from when I was little – to always believe in myself. Always go with your gut feeling and to follow your heart. And as I have grown up my husband has always supported me in this. It is so important to have someone by your side, that believes in you. I think one should “collect” people that follow their own paths in life, people that are beyond over thinking and that are not afraid to be themself.
What artists/designers/creatives do you look up to?
Both historical and present, my list holds so many but it’s always women and especially those that have always followed their own path and weren’t afraid to be different. One historical figure that inspires me a lot is Karin Larsson, the wife of Carl Larsson, who is Sweden’s most famous artist. Her way of looking at life and things is very inspiring, things don’t have to be so finicky “the hand should be seen” was one of her saying – that means that you should see that the craft is made by hand. She designed a lot of her own furniture that the carpenter thought was so ugly so he delivered in the night. Another inspiration is the illustrator of the book Hidden Places, her name is Maja Sten and I love her way of painting and her way of seeing artistry and creativity. She always makes everything by hand instead of using a digital program and you can really feel the life in her art. My Feldt – she’s a writer (and running a café, and a ecologic apple farming, and a TV personality ) soon releasing her second cooking book. I love her way of being herself , she is one of the most transparent people I know.
How has social media influenced your work?
I think I can thank my blog for almost everything, and of course also Instagram in the latest years. I have used it like a portfolio and in that way it has been so important. And of course also the people who have I have crossed paths with on social media.
Who is your work intended for?
I hope I can inspire people and give them another way to look at the world. Everything doesn’t have to be so perfect and correct. I hope people feel that and also are inspired to be creative. I think people have so much to win in being creative in different ways, everyone should be creative in the way that suits them. I think the future will require us people to be more creative, dare to think outside the box in so many ways. To use the creative part of the brain more often. Nowadays, when so many things are served in front of you is it so easy to forget that you have so much creativity inside yourself.
What’s inspiring you lately?
Actually, Swedish glass. We have had a long tradition of glassmaking, with lots of glassworkers in a particular part of Sweden. Unfortunately, this is a craft that is disappearing, more and more every year. That is really sad, so I am reading everything that comes around. I am also planning to visit one of the glassworkers that still practices the craft.
You can find Sofia:
Website of Sofia
Photos of Sofia by Kristen Krickelin