Cyber Feminist Molly Soda On How To Find Empowerment Online
Take even the most cursory of looks at Molly Soda’s website full of animated GIFs and selfies, and I guarantee you’ll emerge from the experience feeling like you know her. Like most Internet princesses, this is the key to Soda’s mass appeal. Her artwork invites you in, granting you an immediate intimacy that predates Instagram, but certainly helped shape the current landscape of collective girl power as espoused by Taylor Swift and her growing squad of likeminded females.
We sat down and talked to Soda about empowerment, the hidden value of selfies and how to merge your IRL and URL personas.
So where does Molly Soda come from?
Originally, Molly Soda started as a persona that would exist purely on the internet. As time passed the lines between online and IRL seemed to blur for me… people started referring to me as “molly soda” in my daily life and my need for digital sincerity (as opposed to just performing a character) became all encompassing. I don’t believe in making distinctions between IRL and URL anymore – both worlds are equally important to me.
How did you first get involved in the digital art scene?
I’ve always been online – from making websites about fairies in 6th grade to flirting with boys on AIM to updating my livejournal everyday in high school. I went to school for art, specifically photography, and sort of thought I needed to keep this separation of my online interactions and my work. I wasn’t happy working this way… starting my Tumblr in 2009 allowed me to merge the two.
For all of our readers who may be unfamiliar with your art, how would you describe your work in ten words or less?
webcam princess explores digital intimacy and cyber sincerity
What would you say is your biggest inspiration?
Other girls on the Internet. I am constantly inspired by the content they produce, whether or not they consider it art. I’m interested in the way that girls perform for their webcams and this idea of publicizing the things we do alone in our rooms.
Speaking of the things we do alone in our rooms, let’s talk about your most recent project “Should I Send This?” What inspired you to do it?
I had this collection of photographs and texts/notes in my phone that I was a little apprehensive about sharing. I thought maybe they were too forward, emotional, corny… a number of things. It felt strange to not want to share something online since I’ve always been a bit of an over-sharer or “internet exhibitionist” – I needed to purge those thoughts and images in order to move forward.
At this point, do you enjoy taking selfies anymore, or does it just feel like work now?
Of course I do! I’ve been photographing myself since I was a teen – it’s never felt like work to me. Selfies are power.
What would you say has been the hardest part about being a digital artist?
Monetizing your artwork. Everything I put online is free and accessible to everyone, which is why I make work like this in the first place. Access is incredibly important to me. But, when you’re not producing an art “object” it’s much harder to get people to want to buy your work.
What’s been your most meaningful project thus far?
I think a lot of my most “meaningful” work are things that aren’t fully developed projects – more like things I made and uploaded in the moment. For example, I went through a breakup in September 2013 and made a video of myself talking about it/my feelings the morning after the breakup. I was scared to put that video up because I was mildly embarrassed about it – but once I did I got an overwhelming amount of positive reactions of people thanking me or just reaching out in general looking to give or ask for support in their own breakups/romantic battles. That’s really special to me.
Who do you create your art for? Or like, what are you trying to say with it?
My art is for anyone who wants to participate – it’s all out there waiting to be consumed, either by people who already know who i am or people that just happen to stumble onto one of my youtube videos.
It’s for anyone who has ever felt too scared to share their feelings, desires, thoughts, etc. I make it public perhaps so other people don’t have to. It’s about wanting to feel connected even though you’re not sure who exactly you’re connecting to.
And last but not least, if you were an emoji, which one would you be?