Who’s That Girl: Sofia Cope and Kirsten Salazar

Who’s That Girl: Sofia Cope and Kirsten Salazar

A discussion on style and substance with Manila's female muses: Sofia Cope & Kirsten Salazar



In my early years as a creative—back when long-form content flourished and one did not see social media as a sustainable means of livelihood—I met Sofia Cope. With a drastic change in the digital ecosystem through the years, we’ve both adapted (I think) through consistent pursuit of substance. After all, it’s easy to create noise on the World Wide Web; the challenge for each creative is to produce something worthwhile.


She has created noteworthy collages and design projects for She Talks Asia and Mano Amiga Philippines. Her international clients include lifestyle brands Mmerci Encore (Singapore), Karolin Van Loon (Belgium), Melanie Georgacopolous (London) and Alex Wolf (New York).


Kirsten Salazar, on the other hand, is a young visual artist taking up Bachelor of Multimedia Arts (who in many ways reminds me of myself). With an almost film-like, ethereal feel to her photographs, her self-portraits are most striking. Her biggest inspiration? Films by Wong Kar-Wai, of course. A one-man team is no joke, yet it’s the best way to learn the ropes of the industry. Her unique take on creativity and self-assured zeal to learn are just a few reasons to watch out for this newcomer.


We reached out to these female muses and discussed their shared love for thrifting and eagerness to create valuable content.


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Sofia Cope

Who's That Girl: Sofia Cope and Kirsten Salazar


Wonder: As a 15-year-old, I discovered you on Multiply; this whole exchange is actually so surreal for me! How do you think the digital landscape changed throughout the years—most especially when it comes to content creation?

I know! It’s honestly nice when I get to keep in touch with my earliest online friends. The digital space has changed SO MUCH, in that it really is now becoming our main reality/context. Whether we’re aware of it or not, everything we do today is influenced by the presence of social media. Back then, the word “content creation” didn’t even exist, and we were just posting for the joy of it. Today, to be a content creator is a career. That’s how much has changed. Content is the new commodity. But then it also raises the question: What kind of content has value?


Everything we do today is influenced by the presence of social media


W: Quoting from your (Instagram) bio, how do you “use art and design to love better?”

It was a challenge for myself. I’ve been designing for brands all my life but I never really used my skill in nurturing personal relationships. I was inspired by Aaron Draplin’s story when he spoke at Graphika Manila. He has a nephew that he loves so much and somehow, he used graphic design as a way to bond with himif not a tool to raise him. For instance, he designed shirts for his nephew’s baseball game, a joint effort between them. The story received an overwhelming response from his readers that they asked to purchase the shirt to help support his nephew’s team. It was just one of the many ways he celebrated him.


In my work, I try to do this by making things more special and more personalized. It could be a bracelet for my mom with illustrations of her grandchildren turned into gold charms. It could be a shirt design that would help raise more funds for a friend with leukemia. In my recent project, I helped my sister make a deck for her boyfriend on his birthday. The decks contained illustrations of his favorite things. She asked him to draw from the deck [and] whatever he gets was her gift to him. It was definitely a different take on gift-giving, and I received so many inquiries after posting that project. I believe it’s one thing to do good for people and another thing when you also make the whole experience look and feel good.


W: Through the years, I’ve grown up with your brand Viva La Manika. Anything new you’re working on?

Yes! I still do Viva La Manika. It’s something I do seasonally now. So there’s that and also the series of mini-modules I will launch soon! I love helping creatives thrive in this age, and I would usually do long courses on branding and digital marketing/storytelling. Starting this month though, I plan to break down the topics into monthly modules. This way, it’s hopefully going to be more digestible and easier for them to apply. Exciting stuff!



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W: I know you just wrapped up The Intuitive Creative, a workshop-retreat, can you tell us about it?

The Intuitive Creative workshop aimed to help artists listen to their inner knowing when it comes to creating content. I noticed that with the abundance of options to edit, filter and re-do our work, artists can get caught up in trying to perfect what they producefor the sake of acquiring validation more than doing it for self-expression. For a time, I was guilty of this, too, and it’s important not to get stuck in this algorithm-serving phase. Through exercises, we encouraged our participants to simply create from a sincere and calm place and to trust their inner knowing. Kind of like what I said a while back: creating simply for the pure happiness of it. Many of them left the workshop feeling refreshed, more excited and more confident to explore their creativity through. Most of them were still finding their way as a creative, and I realized how important it is that there are safe spaces to talk about that.



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W: I know you do a lot of thrifting; at some point, you even sold vintage clothing online. Where are your go-to ukays?

Yes, about 80% of my clothes are thrifted. I buy them from the thrift shops along Alabang-Zapote and Starmall Alabang. I’m quite lucky that I live in Las Piñas where [there's always] a nearby ukay.


W: Any favorite finds you'd like to share? 

This blush pink cheongsam, this wrap dress, this 70’s inspired printed dress and this kawaii ensemble!



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W: What’s next for Sofia Cope?

Hopefully, more experiential content and value for my readers. I want to keep exploring and exceeding the limits of our current platforms and the topics that matter to this generation.


Get acquainted with her work over at The Mad Muse. Follow Sofia Cope and Viva La Manika on Instagram.


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Kirsten Salazar 

Who's That Girl: Sofia Cope and Kirsten Salazar


Wonder: How’s (art) school treating you?

My school has been treating me great. We create art (obviously) and do sorts of non-related art stuff. I'm a part of the film cluster of our Multimedia Arts and Creatives organization. 


W: You recently created an Instagram account for your photography work. What does “Luntianism” mean for you?

I did create a separate account for my work to lessen confusion and to have a neat Instagram feed for my personal account. “Luntianism” first acted as a title for my works since green is my favorite color and I always use green tones and take portraits around greenscape. Moreover, it [helped me] focus on environmental issues.


I prefer it because it has no rules, anything can be your subject. You communicate with your audience, generate and capture emotion (or none at all) —Kirsten on fine arts photography


W: I love your self-portraits! You seem to be comfortable having yourself as the subject of your work, was this always the case?

The truth is, it [makes] me uncomfortable whenever other people take photos of me (unless I really want to.) I'm a really nervy person and posing for other people is such a frustration. It's one of the reasons why I always converse first with my models, ask them about life—about what they do [and their] favorites—before taking photos of them.


To be honest with you, I prefer fine arts photography than portrait photography. I prefer it because it has no rules, anything can be your subject. You communicate with your audience, generate and capture emotion (or none at all). Most especially, you create art. Portraiture is my exercise for the broader field of photography.



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W: I know you're vocal when it comes to advocating sustainable fashion; how did this begin? What steps are you taking to achieve this type of lifestyle?

It first started after visiting my batchmates' art exhibit promoting sustainable fashion. I decided to be part of the movement after days of research and a moment of realization. As an artist, a fashion enthusiast and an (environmental) advocate, what significance can I makeand how will I make it?


Turning it as your lifestyle is pretty hard, you get to wear the same sets of clothes every time! So I've decided to incorporate my art with fashion; I paint designs and images on thrifted clothes and wear them again and again.



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A post shared by Kirsten Salazar (@kirszar) on


W: Aside from finishing college, what's next for Kirsten Salazar?

As of the moment, I'm accepting commissions for digital sketches, graphic design and watercolor paintings. I also work as a freelance event photographer and stylist while attending college. After graduating, I'll focus more on my two dream jobs: to be part of a film production team and to be a creative director in the fashion industry.


Stay updated with Kirsten on her personal account and see more of her work on Luntianism.



From one of Manila's OG content creators to a spirited rookie in the industry, these visual artists have much to say and it's all up to you to pay attention.



Art Alexandra Lara


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