THE FINE PRINT: There isn’t much about you out there, so please fill us in.
COCO STAR SIMS: My name is Coco Star Sims. I am from, Melbourne, Australia and I’m part Malay, part English. I have an unhealthy obsession for hot chocolate, Wayne’s World and the Beastie Boys. I spill everything; most of my stuff is covered in paint and coffee stains. I have a big brother named Obi (my parents were big Star Wars fans) who is a bartender, computer programmer, and model. My Dad Jason is a graphic designer, drummer, and retired skateboarder, and my Mum was a meditation teacher. I have always been into learning new skills, since I was little I would get really into new things and spend every waking moment getting around it until I got the hang of it, and then I would get bored and move onto something else. These new-found skills include engraving, teaching my pet bird to poop on command, playing the accordion, giving people cornrows, and making soft toys. I remember one day when I was about 9 deciding I wanted to make a soft toy dugong, having never properly sewed before. My step mum at the time and my dad said not be disappointed if I couldn’t do it, so I went off and spent a whole day working my butt off making this soft toy dugong. I made the frick outta that dugong.
TFP: You are from Melbourne. I found Australia to be one of my favourite countries to find artists and designers. Is there something in the air for the creatives? How would you say it influences you?
CSS: Honestly I have never really felt influenced by Australia. I guess living in such a diverse country, where you are surrounded by so many cultures is pretty inspiring. I love exploring the city and all its nooks and crannies, but I don’t feel my art is related to my country, my art is influenced by anyone walking around in skin.
TFP: If you didn’t live there, where would you live and why?
CSS: Definitely Harajuku, Japan. I love Harajuku so so soo sooooooo freaking much. It is number one on my list of places to go. Everything there is so intense and vibrant, and I just want it all up in my face.
TFP: You make the ugly beautiful. Please describe to me your art.
CSS: In my work I try to expose the human form in a way that isn’t sexual. I aim to highlight the stuff that most people find uncomfortable. I delve into what most people avoid and challenge what makes them a subject of taboo. In my work I try to say “This is what’s up, no need for it to be a big thing”. I look at things from every angle possible, and try to work with every material I can get my hands on. I love sculpting with clay, drawing with markers, and using multimedia tools like photoshop. I believe that the concept of something being ugly is so medieval; and that every single tiny itty bitty thing has some beautiful quality to it, and you can either choose to ignore it and see something as a negative, or embrace it. It’s all about your mindset and that is what I want to get out there.
TFP: What’s in your toolbox?
CSS: I have a crazy amount of stuff. I am always collecting things that I think I could potentially turn into something. I just work with what I got, and I think that adds to the nature of my stuff. I use a lot of paint markers (Posca is my #1), Copic markers, acrylic and oil paints, ink and quills, wire, carving tools, a whole lot of paintbrushes and my best friend, Photoshop.
TFP: What has pushed you into becoming an artist? Any relevant life event?
CSS: As a child I did not have your average Mother figure, my Dad was a single father and my best friend. My Dad tried the best he could to give me everything a mother would of, but there were some things he simply could not understand or know how to explain. I learned a lot of what I thought a girl was meant to be like from the media. I was a huge tomboy and refused to wear clothes from the girls section until I was 12, I always rocked checked wristbands and had coloured stripes in my hair. I still remember when I was seven, the school called my Dad and got all cranky because I dyed my hair purple. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t take my top off when I got all sweaty but my brother could. I was imprinted with the idea that I wasn’t good enough. I thought I was ugly because I was short, I wasn’t blonde or blue eyed. I learnt so many things about how I should act and what I should do, and I felt inadequate because I didn’t want to take part in any of these things that I thought I was meant to.
The major turning point for me in realising the irrational nature of this, was when I was 14 years old and I got my period for the first time and had no idea what was happening. At first I thought I a pooped my pants, and I ran to the bathroom and it was this weird brown stuff and it started hurting and it got bloody and, not knowing it was a perfectly normal part of development I started jumping to all these crazy conclusions and decided that my bladder had exploded and I was dying. When it was discovered that I was in fact not dying and just experiencing my first period, I gained a new perspective. I thought it was so nuts that something every freaking female goes through is kept so under wraps, whilst all this superficial baloney was being shoved in our faces and forced upon us. My experience was a true reflection of society, and forced me to acknowledge the pressures, expectations and incoherent ideals it places upon women.
After this I began to open up about my femininity. I stopped caring if people thought the stuff I said was gross or wasn’t ‘lady-like’, my period leaking onto my undies, or having sweaty armpits, or eating messy was nothing to hide. I found that other people really appreciated it and some even thought it was ‘cool’ that I didn’t care too much. It was at this point that I slowly began creating more graphic works and began sharing them with others.
TFP: What’s your take on the human body?
CSS: I feel that it is important to recognise that everyone’s bodies are different, we all have lumps and bumps in different places, and they all rock.
TFP: Where are you hoping your artwork will take you?
CSS: I know this is probably pretty cliché of me; but for me art isn’t just my career path, it really is a part of who I am. I don’t go a single day without doing any form of art. When I get an idea I have to do it right then and there, sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and I need to do it. I just want to keep sharing what’s in my mind-hole with the world, to confront and hopefully change some perspectives. I have had lots of feedback from people about how my art has comforted them, and that is the kind stuff that keeps me motivated. I just want to keep developing as an artist and as a human, and discovering new things. I recently just finished putting together a book which I wrote and illustrated called ‘BOOBIES’ which is a children’s book about positive body image. I am working on trying to get it published and hoping that maybe that will open a few doors. I want to see the world and make art while doing it. That would be the dream.
Text by ESTELLE GERVAIS