So, What Does it Mean to be the Best Art Student of the Year?

Sophie Engelschiøn Best Art Student and her AI-generated project

“Learning can also be about trying and failing many times”. Inspirations, secrets and tips from Sophie Engelschiøn, who created a visionary AI-generated project

Sophie Engelschiøn Best Art Student and her AI-generated project


By Giulia Piceni. Cover image: Aria Winters, Reflections on Existence, 2023, AI-generated image

Never heard of Sofie Engelschiøn? Then you’d better continue scrolling this article because an unexpected contemporary art lesson is starting now!
Sofie, a Norwegian multimedia artist named Best Art Student of the Year 2022-2023 at Istituto Marangoni Firenze, created Aria Winters, a fictional artist who challenges creativity through her online presence. Aria was conceived with the support of various AI-generated resources.
How can a contemporary artist best represent identity and creativity with AI? We talked about this with Sofie, covering AI’s impact on the art world, passing through some considerations about social media in the life of an artist and mentioning the importance of nature in Sofie Engelschiøn’s work. Get ready to be inspired.

How much of you is represented in the character of Aria Winters, your AI-generated fictional artist? 

Aria Winters is my idea, but the output is only AI, including the texts, images, fonts, and colours. It was important for me to keep my style and opinions out of it because I wanted Aria to have a life and an identity of her own. 

Aria Winters, WHISPERS OF SERENITY, 2023, AI-generated image.

Have you ever considered bringing Artificial Intelligence into your artistic practice? 
Definitely. I am very interested in AI and try to use it as much as possible in the early stages of creation. Mostly, I use it to generate mock-ups for my own art to put on my website, plan content for social media and help me generate well-formulated texts because I find it challenging to do on my own. I am also working on developing full artwork with AI, but I have not felt comfortable putting my name on it for now. 
You’ve been awarded Best Art Student of the Year. What have been the key moments during this academic experience, and what are your plans for the future as a student and an artist?  
I am honoured to be the Art Student of the Year. During the last three years, I have met many beautiful, creative people and learned so much professionally and about myself.

A key moment that changed my entire practice was learning that I am a visual learner and how to use that to my advantage. I have had teachers give me tips and ideas about drawing my notes instead of just writing and that learning can also be about trying and failing many times, not just reading up on what others have done. This feedback has been an ‘aha experience’ that completely changed my life and artistic practice.

You used AI technology to generate contacts and social media profiles to give the impression that Aria Winters, a fictional artist, was a real person. Considering both Aria and your experience, what do you think is the role of social media in an artist’s career?

Great question. I think social media is way more important than anyone would like to admit. 
Opportunities like open calls, work positions and collaborations are now posted on Instagram rather than LinkedIn. Social media has become a big part of how people connect in the creative fields. 

Aria Winters, DREAMSCAPES AND REALITIES, 2023, AI-generated images.

The AI-generated artworks credited to Aria Winters displayed a significant shift in style each month, showcasing the rapid advancements in AI prompt processing. Do you think these radical changes in artistic style have positively impacted the perception of Aria Winters?

I was surprised by how quickly Aria changed. I questioned whether an AI artist could understand the concept of development, but it has been proven that it does.
However, I think it goes a bit too fast. I prefer to see a “red thread” in an artist’s work, a clear narrative and consistent style; for now, Aria’s early works are nothing like the new ones. But again, Aria has developed into her own unique artist, so it all depends on individual taste.

Sofie Engelschiøn, Enjoy the silence, 2023, Spatial experience

The artworks from both Aria and yours show a strong presence of nature. How’s your relationship with it? 

I was introduced to the great outdoors at a very young age when my parents took me on a mountain trip just two weeks after I was born. After spending so many years in the wilderness in Norway on holidays and in my spare time, I have encountered many natural wonders that have held significant meaning for me. Some natural phenomenon only happens at specific moments, making it all the more rewarding to capture them on camera.

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