I loved sitting down with Didi a few weeks ago to talk about her amazingly realistic shoe sculptures, social media inclinations and the direction she is headed.
Brooklyn artist Didi Rojas, a graduate of Pratt, works in ceramics but has also been known to create work in print, such as her “Hotdog Book.” As an employee of Group Partners for the last two years, she can often be found in the studio. Find her and her cute pup here or on her website.
Where are you from?
I was born in Columbia, and then my family moved to New Jersey when I was four. I also have a twin sister.
Do you remember Columbia or mostly New Jersey?
I would say that because my family moved when I was so young that it was such a big deal. When I was that young I feel like I remember a lot of my childhood or like a good bit. I know the food is amazing and I went back I think 2 years ago. It was nice, it’s always really humbling going back.
Did you always know you were into art or did it kind of grow on you?
So my dad used to do a lot of painting and drawing. He had this drawing table at home so it was basically his little section of the house that he would draw and do paintings on. He would sit my sister and I next to him and we’d copy what he was doing on our own paper. So that’s sort of where it started for me.
How did you get into ceramics?
I started working with ceramic when I started at Pratt. I went to Pratt for communications design and then I sort of got introduced to the ceramics studio. Once I started there I found a job there and I was like “oh my gosh, this is something I want to get into more.” So I started practicing and making my own work, then I started doing my illustrations in ceramic. I just fell in love with it because it’s such a great process.
Was it difficult at first?
I think it’s definitely difficult but it’s also great because I feel like every piece that I make is a bit of a challenge. I like that about it, that fact that it seems like I always want to have control over it but at the same time anything can really happen. It’s always like a learning experience which I like a lot.
Do you ever make art that you hate and even want to throw away?
I feel like when I first started I was really critical and especially at the wheel. With ceramics and throwing I feel like in the beginning I was really into it because it was like a whole new skill for me. But it was extremely hard to learn so I felt myself being really critical, then I would get to a point where I was just like “ah, I want to throw all of this out because now I learned how to do it better.” So the stuff I made before felt like “well I kind of don’t want to finish this to the end.”
Did you ever end up throwing anything away?
A lot of stuff. It feels good though in a way, it’s kind of relieving when you see something and you’re like “okay, I worked on this, it’s gotten better.” Then sort of being critical and saying “I’m sort of past this…” is kind of nice.
What’re your friends like, how would you describe your friendships?
I feel like I’m really good friends with my partner and my sister. I try to be social but I have a very hard time. I feel like I’m a homebody a lot of the time. It’s tough doing stuff after work so I feel like my friendships with people are great because, at least the people I’m really close with, we see each other and when we do we can pick back up from where we left off, which is really nice.
So you’re not the type to go out and get lunch with people?
I would go to lunch! I would do that a lot more often if I could.
Did you say that you work at a ceramics studio?
I work at Group Partner. I started 2 years ago and I met the guy who does it at a gallery show. So then I was like “hey, do you need any help?” And he was like “yeah, do you want to start working for me?” So it was kind of one of those moments where I was like “woah, that’s cool.” And I just started working there like that.
So how do you feel like social media? Do you feel inclined to use it all the time?
I actually feel like I do feel inclined to use it often, a little too often I think. I feel like there’s moments where I want to put my phone in the other room so that I’m not always going on it. It’s interesting because I feel like if it wasn’t for it I wouldn’t know how to put my work out there. I think it’s good because it’s helped me get my work out there and have more of an audience, which I like. It’s tough because I know there’s apps where you can find out how much you go on a social media site. And I’m like “I can’t do that to myself, it’ll be awful.
Do you ever feel insecure when you see other people looking like they’re doing so well on the internet?
Yeah, I think it definitely scary because it seems like there’s a lot of pressure around it. So you feel like you have to do something to get more followers or have it work for you in a way that it’s working for other people.
As a more homemade artists do you fear digitization of art?
I have a feeling that people always appreciate stuff that’s handmade. I think that either paintings or any other type of sculptural art, I think there’s always something beautiful about it. It’s still something that we revere a lot in museums so I don’t think I fear that, just yet.
Do you have any other hobbies?
Last weekend I baked two cherry pies because I really like baking. I’ve been missing in action because I recently got a dog. I would say that that’s what I’ve been doing. I adopted her and she’s 6 months old now.
How do you interpret the art world around you? Do you feel more connected or secluded?
I feel like it’s hard to not think of other artists or the community around you. It’s tough because it’s hard to feel like you’re a part of it, even if you’re a part of it. So you might not feel like people take you seriously until something crazy happens. So I don’t know, it’s hard to say, it almost feels like it’s not really meant for anyone.
Do you ever feel distanced by people because of personality or politics? Can you separate someone as a person from their art?
I feel like sometimes the art itself needs to be informed by who makes it. You can’t take the artist out of what they make. I think that since I’ve been doing the shoes some people can see it as a really interesting object. But to me there’s a lot of historical stuff, my whole experience comes out of it. In columbia I feel like there’s a lot of craft, so in my head it’s a part of what I’m making. So I wouldn’t want people to take my background out of my art.
How did you start making the shoes?
I want to start by saying , no I’m not a sneakerhead. It sort of started where I was noticing, when I was walking around New York, prominence of certain sneakers in different areas. Especially in SoHo I feel like a lot of 20 year olds wear Stan Smiths. So I was like “oh my gosh, I don’t understand but I see these everywhere.” That’s sort of what started me making shoes. I started with the Nike Air Force 1. That’s a shoe that I actually wear so it was just what was available to me at first. That’s why now I’m really interested in making designer shoes because I think they’re really beautiful.
What projects do you have coming up?
I have a few in mind. I have this idea of making shoes that’s fairly large, a little bit bigger than your life-size shoe. I want to do a performance where I have people sort of like model in them but they can’t move their feet so it’s just them trying to figure out what to do. I want to try and figure that out.
All Photos From Instagram/ Didi Rojas: @0h_Heck
Didi’s work can be found of Didirojas.com or on her instagram @0h_Heck