sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

#SuperProfesh is all about highlighting the vibrant personal style of entrepreneurial women from every field and background, showing the world that a work uniform never has to be basic.

Sophie C’est la Vie is a creative force of nature. An acclaimed tattooer, artist, and the genius behind impeccably curated vintage store Goldfoot Brooklyn, Sophie is as well-known for her free-spirited style as she is for her astonishingly beautiful tattoos and arresting fine art.

We visited her in her gorgeous Brooklyn apartment to talk about her career in tattooing, her style, and finding inspiration in the everyday.

Art direction: Heeral Chhibber
Photography: Janine Ngai
Hair and makeup: Glamsquad
Words: Alle Connell

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“My origin story as a tattoo artist is pretty simple. You know how there are careers that you don’t even realize are careers? That’s how tattooing was for me. I’ve always been an artist, I’ve always been very creative, and I had gotten a few tattoos, but I had never really looked at tattooing as a career. And then one day, I got this thought in my head, where I went, 'Wait, this is a job! Tattooers aren’t doing this for fun — it’s their career!' And I had this moment where I thought, Maybe I can do that.”

“I got very, very curious about tattooing, but I didn't know anybody in the industry except for this one person. I sent him a MySpace message, and he never replied! But I saw him in person a few months later, and I showed him that I was really serious about learning to tattoo. He invited me to come by the shop, where I did a few drawings and we talked a bit, and then he was like, ‘Yeah, I can teach you to tattoo.’ He became my mentor.”

“Tattooing happened very simply, and in a way that it doesn’t usually happen. I feel very thankful for that because it can be very difficult to get into tattooing. It makes me feel that the universe wanted it this way.”

 

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“There are a lot of stereotypes about tattooers; how we look, how we dress. I would describe my style as bohemian downtown chic. I really love a lot of flowy, eccentric, bohemian style pieces, but I’m also drawn to edgier pieces as well. I don’t really have just one aesthetic; I float between different things I like. So it’s not necessarily one single style that I embody, and sometimes they merge.”

“One of the things that speaks to me in a garment is movement. Also the detailing. I’m a sucker for embroidery, embellishments, very bold and unique colors. I love to put pieces together that might not necessarily go together, like a super-flowy dress paired with sneakers — I like the juxtaposition between those things. I want to feel free in whatever I’m wearing. I don’t want to feel restricted.”

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“In my line of work, I can wear whatever I want if I choose to. So I take advantage of that. Between tattooing, my art, and my store, I work every day, and I don’t want to have a separate wardrobe of clothes for work. So I do still want to dress fun and feel free and comfortable.”

“As a tattooer, when I go to work, I still like my clothes to be expressive. But I am a little bit careful with the colors that I wear — I try not to wear too much white or a lot of light colors because there’s a lot of splatter. And that’s fine! It shows that this is what I do!”

“Tattooing has been a male-dominated industry for a long time, but I don’t think that affects the way I dress at work. The times are changing — nowadays there are SO many talented female tattooers, and I’m grateful to the female tattooers who came before me and paved the way."

Sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“I’m lucky because I work with so many amazing female tattooers, but there’s still a way for women in tattooing to go. You’ll have those conversations where someone will say, ‘Oh, they’re such an amazing FEMALE tattooer.’ Why can’t she just be an amazing tattooer? Why does it have to be that division? It’s something that happens a lot on tattoo talk, and it can be disrespectful. A lot of people want to give women credit, but also knock them down a notch — “Oh, but she’s a FEMALE.” No, she’s just amazing. She’s an amazing person, she’s an amazing artist.”

“And of course, we do need to give female tattooers recognition. Of course. But we have to also continue to break down that line of division in tattooing. Let’s move past that. Let’s make it equal already.”

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“I think all of my personal expressions have links to my art. A lot of the things that inspire my style inspire my art, and vice-versa. I have a store called Goldfoot Brooklyn; it’s a curated collection of vintage and worldly goods, and I stock it with all the things I like."

“I’m inspired by so many things. Nature, animalia, astrology, the cosmos — these things are all present in my art, and in my tattooing."

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janina Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

"Through fashion, I discovered that I loved vintage clothing, and vintage is where I started exploring my love of patterns and unique color combinations. I do a lot of traveling, so I find a lot of inspiration in other cultures and places I’ve been. I love handcrafted pieces — textiles people make, and the color combinations within them. I love Japanese origami paper. A lot of vintage and antique art is inspiring to me, but I also try to find inspiration in everyday life.”

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Photographer: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“Tattooing is really a combination of things that I love: There’s the creative aspect, where you come up with your concepts and develop your style, but it’s also very technical. You could be the most amazing artist and not be able to technically do the act of tattooing. Tattooing is something you can’t rush. There’s no shortcut. You just have to do it more and more. That’s the only way to get better — you have to put the time in.”

“I dress for myself. It’s not for others. So if I feel good about my look, I feel confident. That’s what I care about. If I’m feeling a little down or stressed out, I’ll get dressed-up. Fashion makes me feel good. It’s a pick-me-up for me.”

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

"This dress is vintage, and it's so much of what I like in my personal style. I love the colors on this dress — the bright turquoise and pink on a neutral base. The silhouette is sexy in a way that's also comfortable. It's loose and flowy, with a structured top. It has a nice hang."

"If I’m having a blah day, I would put on a dress. I would definitely put lipstick on — I love NARS Heatwave, it's my go-to. Once I put the lips on, it's over! I wouldn't wear heels, because I need to be comfortable. But I’d definitely go for a more feminine, soft look if I’m feeling down."

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“I got my style from my mom. A lot of my best jewelry is from my mom. This ring, I love, because it’s the ring she used to wear when I was a kid. So when I look at my hands, I’m reminded of what her hands looked like when I was a kid.”

“One of the most important things about bringing your style into work is to be comfortable. No matter what career you have, your style should be an expression of you, not what you think you should look like for people."

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

"No matter what you do, you’re going to be more confident when you’re happy in your own skin and when it’s authentic. When you’re young, and you’re starting out in any industry, you might compare yourself to people who have been there longer than you. You may feel intimidated, or that you haven’t had the time to put yourself together the way that they have. But that will come with time. Be honest and true to yourself and your style. That’s the way you’ll be able to express yourself the best.”

“When you start growing into yourself and your style, this does get easier. You slough off a lot of the expectations people have for you — but also that you have for yourself.”

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“In tattooing, fashion is not that important. At the end of the day, what’s speaking to people is your art. People will seek you out because of your work, but my style speaks to more than that."

"There are still some negative ideas about what tattooers look like — so when people meet me, I feel they’re more inclined to think, 'Oh, she’s like me! She likes to wear dresses! She’s not scary!' I think my style comes off as welcoming and inviting, and it puts people at ease.”

sophie c'est la vie tattoo
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“Tattoos in the workplace are definitely becoming more mainstream. But there are some very conservative fields that just won’t be into very visible tattoos. If you’re someone who is just starting out in your career, I’d say to wait on getting very visible tattoos that can't be covered — the hands, the neck, the face. Regardless if it’s right or not, those tattoos might affect your job prospects. I think people should be careful. Don’t close doors you haven’t walked through yet.”

“Tattoos can be personal in a way that a lot of other art forms are not. There are people who come in and have very meaningful pieces, and I always feel thankful that someone would want me to create a piece that’s so special to them. Tattooing people is an honor. It is amazing to make such a permanent mark on someone’s life.”

sophie c'est la vie
photo: Janine Ngai. Retouching: Heeral Chhibber

“You can tattoo someone, and you may never see that tattoo or that person again. But they’ll carry your art with them wherever they go. That’s really amazing.”


To see more of Sophie's art and purchase prints of her work, please check out her website.
Sophie tattoos at Saved Tattoos in Brooklyn. To inquire about tattoo appointments, please contact her through her site.
Her vintage store is Goldfoot Brooklyn.
Follow her on Instagram at @sophiecestlavie.