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Monday, July 6, 2020

Artist who sparked the ‘glitter boobs’ festival craze launches her first ‘naked’ gallery

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When Sophie Tea adorned her chest with glitter, gemstones and jewels at Coachella in 2017, she sparked a ‘glitter boob’ festival trend that earned her thousands of followers on Instagram. 

The viral fame from that one decision catapulted the British artist’s paintings into the spotlight, earning her $1.7million in 2019 alone. 

And this week, the Sydney-based beauty, who sells her work for between $700 and $3,500, opened her first gallery in Manly Beach, New South Wales.

When Sophie Tea adorned her chest with glitter, gemstones and jewels at Coachella in 2017, she sparked a 'glitter boob' festival trend that earned her thousands of followers on Instagram

When Sophie Tea adorned her chest with glitter, gemstones and jewels at Coachella in 2017, she sparked a 'glitter boob' festival trend that earned her thousands of followers on Instagram

When Sophie Tea adorned her chest with glitter, gemstones and jewels at Coachella in 2017, she sparked a ‘glitter boob’ festival trend that earned her thousands of followers on Instagram 

'Over the summer of 2019 in the UK I got around 8,000 new followers and around a 20 per cent uplift in print sales and commission requests from people who had seen the old photo,' she told FEMAIL

'Over the summer of 2019 in the UK I got around 8,000 new followers and around a 20 per cent uplift in print sales and commission requests from people who had seen the old photo,' she told FEMAIL

‘Over the summer of 2019 in the UK I got around 8,000 new followers and around a 20 per cent uplift in print sales and commission requests from people who had seen the old photo,’ she told FEMAIL

On June 28 the Manchester-born beauty, who sells her work for between $700 and $3,500, opened her first pink-painted gallery in Manly Beach, Sydney (pictured)

On June 28 the Manchester-born beauty, who sells her work for between $700 and $3,500, opened her first pink-painted gallery in Manly Beach, Sydney (pictured)

On June 28 the Manchester-born beauty, who sells her work for between $700 and $3,500, opened her first pink-painted gallery in Manly Beach, Sydney (pictured)

The store will feature the 27-year-old’s ‘Send Nudes’ collection which launched in London last year, and is the result of thousands of women sending in naked images of themselves to the artist.

To commemorate the special showing – and the creation of her first brick-and-mortar store – Sophie chose 25 women to stand in the windows wearing nothing but paint last weekend. 

The naked window display was again the result of hundreds of Australian women sending Sophie nude photos of themselves – with the participants being chosen of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and backgrounds.

The naked window display was again the result of hundreds of Australian women sending Sophie nude photos of themselves - with the participants being chosen of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and backgrounds

The naked window display was again the result of hundreds of Australian women sending Sophie nude photos of themselves - with the participants being chosen of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and backgrounds

The naked window display was again the result of hundreds of Australian women sending Sophie nude photos of themselves – with the participants being chosen of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and backgrounds

‘When I called out for volunteers to come forward and take part I was humbled and overwhelmed by the response,’ Sophie said.

‘Lots of women reached out to me sharing their reasons for wanting to celebrate their bodies in this way. It’s inspiring to see these women unite in a brave and bold display of female nudity.’

Sophie used 25 tubs of paint to splash across the women’s bodies, before they stood in the front windows of her art store, bringing the beachside suburb to a stop. 

‘Send Nudes’ features ladies with eating disorders, mental health problems, those who have had mastectomies and surgeries as well as pregnant women.   

Sophie used 25 tubs of paint to splash across the women's bodies, before they stood in the front windows of her art store, bringing the beachside suburb to a stop

Sophie used 25 tubs of paint to splash across the women's bodies, before they stood in the front windows of her art store, bringing the beachside suburb to a stop

Sophie used 25 tubs of paint to splash across the women’s bodies, before they stood in the front windows of her art store, bringing the beachside suburb to a stop

Sophie, who now resides in Sydney, will be opening her Sophie Tea Art store to the public on July 2 (pictured when she first bought the space)

Sophie, who now resides in Sydney, will be opening her Sophie Tea Art store to the public on July 2 (pictured when she first bought the space)

Sophie, who now resides in Sydney, will be opening her Sophie Tea Art store to the public on July 2 (pictured when she first bought the space)

Sophie, who now resides in Sydney, will be opening her Sophie Tea Art store to the public on July 2.

It’s an incredible continuation of a career that grew from wearing a top made of sparkles to an iconic American music festival. 

She was approached at the time by the owner of body jewellery brand Gypsy Shrine, Jenna Meek, and asked if they could collaborate.   

‘While at Coachella we had the glitter boobs idea,’ Sophie told FEMAIL.

‘We just took off our tops and put loads of glitter on our boobs. It’s actually a bit embarrassing now but my followers on social media boomed after that.’

How does Sophie sell her art? 

If a customer would like to purchase an original work they are able to spread the payments equally across 12 months and they will receive the painting straight away.

‘I have been advised against this from so many sources because ultimately a customer could just not pay but I operate on a complete trust basis,’ Sophie said.

‘A client has trusted me, it’s a no-brainer for me to extend that good-will and offer this deal.’

She said that doing this also encourages more people to buy her work as it makes it more affordable.

It also creates strong relationships with her customers as she said 50 per cent of people who buy an artwork through a payment plan end up purchasing something else from her six months later. 

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The 'Glitter Boobs' picture went viral and drew the attention of celebrities, including Ellen Degeneres

The 'Glitter Boobs' picture went viral and drew the attention of celebrities, including Ellen Degeneres

Hundreds of women have continued the trend in the following years

Hundreds of women have continued the trend in the following years

The ‘Glitter Boobs’ picture went viral and drew the attention of celebrities, including Ellen Degeneres

The ‘Glitter Boobs’ picture went viral and drew the attention of celebrities, including Ellen Degeneres.

And she continues to reap the rewards. 

‘Over the summer of 2019 in the UK I got around 8,000 new followers and around a 20 per cent uplift in print sales and commission requests from people who had seen the old photo,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘It’s funny that “that” picture resurfaces every summer when people are looking for festival inspo. I’m grateful for it though as it does bring new attention to my Instagram account and helps new people discover my artwork.’

Operating as an independent artist - without the representation of a gallery - can be difficult but Sophie uses her loyal social media followers to keep building her profile in the offline world

Operating as an independent artist - without the representation of a gallery - can be difficult but Sophie uses her loyal social media followers to keep building her profile in the offline world

Operating as an independent artist – without the representation of a gallery – can be difficult but Sophie uses her loyal social media followers to keep building her profile in the offline world

Operating as an independent artist – without the representation of a gallery – can be difficult but Sophie uses her loyal social media followers to keep building her profile in the offline world. 

‘I pride myself on “taking people’s art virginities”. I have been the first art purchase for over 2,000 customers,’ she said.

‘Typically an artist would sell their work through a gallery and the industry standard commission that a gallery takes is fifty per cent.

‘The term “starving artist” rings true because galleries take the money from the artist.’

But while she might like to do things differently, it’s exactly that evocative charm the public adore her for – and with 104,000 followers and counting on Instagram – there is no telling opening night in the gallery will be a busy one.

You can find Sophie’s work on her website and the new shop at 29 Sydney Road, Manly. 

Australia

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