Artist Sommer’s Things Missed series reminds us of all the great Richmond things we’ve had to take a break from since social distancing began.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, we’ve had to settle in and get cozy… almost too cozy. With our outdoor options cut off from us, it’s easy to become trapped in a state of inactivity. It’s like we’re all stuck in quicksand, slowly… ever so slowly… sinking. That is, unless you have found a productive outlet for those feelings. Luckily, local artist Sommer has, and she’s sharing it with all of us via Instagram.
Sommer, who until the COVID-19 outbreak worked as a bartender in Richmond, has found a new outlet in creating art for her Instagram account, @diewithyourhoopson. Her account features a variety of art styles, ranging from portraits to homemade clothing and jewelry. Recently, she’s gained a lot of traction from her series “Things Missed,” which depicts popular local spots around Richmond.
Sommer rediscovered her love for art earlier this year. Before then, the last time she drew anything was over ten years ago in middle school.
“I didn’t come from a family that had [an artistic] background or interest and lacked the support for it. So I just fell out of it,” said Sommer.
However, that changed after a friend suggested that she pick the habit back up.
“[My friend] was like, ‘What’s stopping you from…starting again?’” said Sommer. “So in February I got an iPad and an Apple Pencil and just jumped back into it.”
It wasn’t long after that that the quarantine arrived, and Sommer found herself with time on her hands. That’s when she began doing a series of illustrations she calls “Things Missed,” in which she recreates various notable spots around Richmond.
Sommer started “Things Missed” as a way to remember and support her favorite spots during the COVID-19 epidemic.
“It was a thing to make myself feel good, but I also want to remind people that there is another side of this,” said Sommer. “We have to continue to support those businesses that are still open… if we want them to still be there when we get out of this.”
So far, she’s drawn popular spots like Cobra Cabana, Lamplighter Cafe, and Helen’s, as well as the view from everyone’s favorite hangout spot on the banks of the James River, an important personal landmark for Sommer. She currently has several other entries planned for the series.
This hasn’t just been a creative outlet for Sommer; a sudden influx of paid commissions have helped bear the financial burdens the CONVID-19 crisis presents.
“The first few weeks of [the quarantine], it’s definitely been OK… I was really surprised with how much I was able to make,” said Sommer.
Sommer’s commissions are fairly low-cost, mainly selling for $5-10. However, she received so many commissions that she had to create a second instagram account just to manage them all. Sommer says it helped during a time when she was out of a job and still had to pay for herself and her pets.
“I wasn’t even worried about myself [when I got laid off] ‘cause canned and frozen veggies are cheap. Rice is cheap,” said Sommer. “I was worried about how much money I was going to immediately drop on my dogs [for food and medication].”
A lot of that commission money originally came from Sommer’s friends, and people she knew in her day-to-day life. However, as the account has gained popularity, many of them have been from complete strangers. Sommer compared the situation to the way workers in the service industry consistently tip and support each other. Despite that, Sommer realizes her commissions won’t last forever, as people spend longer periods of time out of work.
“We’re all pretty much in the same boat,” said Sommer.
Sommer has more illustrations planned in the Things Missed series, and continues to take commissions. Follow her art and get in touch with her @diewithyourhoopson on Instagram.
Top Image: Lamplighter by Sommer, via Instagram/@diewithyourhoopson