‘Artist Spotlight’ Of Week: Stephanie Hongo (a.k.a. Sugarfox)

Howdy Nation! In today’s post, we are going to be featuring our ‘Artist Spotlight’ of the week: Stephanie Hongo, also known as Sugarfox. Stephanie is best known for building animals using recycled plastic and various other discarded items or junk. In this interview, we will be learning all about Stephanie’s process of creating a ‘trash’ octopus sculpture and all of the materials she used to create it!

Today, I would like to introduce you all to Stephanie Hongo!

She is a 35-year-old artist who lives and works in the state of Connecticut, under the artist name, Sugarfox. Stephanie specializes in building life-size animals from discarded plastics and other junk pieces she is able to find. She got her start in “trash art” just four years ago, when she didn’t have extra money for art supplies.

Lucky for us, octopuses happen to be her favorite creature to make!

Many of Stephanie’s pieces range from 18 inches long to 8 feet long and are all constructed from all sorts of discarded or recycled materials, most of which are plastic.

What draws you in or fascinates you the most about octopuses? When did this start for you? 

“I adore the octopus’s intelligence. They are all so unique when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. I remember being blown away watching one change both it’s color and skin texture in an instant as a kid.

That probably solidified my love for cephalopods!”

OctoNation members love knowing how long your work takes you to complete… Can you describe the process?

“The time a piece takes to build greatly depends on it’s size. I’ve completed a piece within a day-or-so, but then I’ve also taken a couple weeks to finish another.

I begin by making a rough layout and then I’ll hunt for appropriately shaped junk to fulfill my focus.

Fun Fact: I have a large heap of trash I’ve accumulated over the years that I sift through. I do wish there was more organization to it, but it’s a tough thing to streamline!

Every piece is different and so in the junk available to make it. The process of making involves a lot of trial and error plus tons of troubleshooting.”

Was this modeled after a specific octopus species? Did you use any references?

“I ALWAYS use references. I’ll generally search the internet for a photo that has a nice composition and go from there. The species isn’t as important to me as much as the actual pose in the photo.”

What materials were used? 

“What materials AREN’T used might be an easier question 😉

These pieces are made up of a variety of junk, mostly plastics! Think:

  • Wire
  • Plastic six pack caps
  • Ping pong balls
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Action figures
  • Vinyl tubing
  • Puzzle pieces
  • Pipe insulation
  • PVC pipes

Just to name a handful of components!

I used a drill and some screws to hold it all together.”

Who (or what) are your biggest influences?

“Bordalo ii is an amazing junk artist that inspired my leap into doing this myself. His work is beautiful!

There are dozens of other artists that motivate and inspire me too, but second to him, I’d honestly have to say nature. I wouldn’t know what to make without my animal subjects. They really are my favorite things to create.”

When do you feel the most creative?

“I wish I had a solid answer for this but unfortunately you never can tell when it will hit you. I think that’s one of the biggest walls for creatives… If they ever figure out how to bottle inspiration, it would be impossible to keep in stock!”

How do you know when a piece is finished? 

“I’m usually done building it when my eye can drift around the piece without anything standing out or looking “wrong.”

It’s officially finished when it gets its name.”

What’s the best place for people to discover your work?

“You can always find me on Instagram!”

Do you have an artist statement?

“If you’re passionate about something, find a way to do it.”

🐙 Octopus Fun Fact

“I have a twin sister who is also an artist!”

Thank You For Joining Us For Artist Spotlight!

First, we want to give a big thank you to Stephanie Hongo (Sugarfox) for allowing us to showcase this beautiful art piece on OctoNation. To continue supporting Sugarfox and her ‘trash’ sculptors, make sure to follow them on Instagram @sugarfox_art. If you have any interest in commission a piece from them, message her on Instagram!

Enjoyed learning all about this art piece? Make sure to check out our new series: Artist Spotlight, where we interview and showcase different artist and their work inspired by octopuses!

If you want to educate yourself some more about all sorts of different cephalopods, take a look at our encyclopedia. Or, what we call it, our Octopedia!

Connect with other octopus lovers via the OctoNation Facebook group, OctopusFanClub.com! Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with the conservation, education, and ongoing research of cephalopods.

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