I’m going to continue my artist appreciation series with an interview with the wonderful, whimsical, (and not a little bit weird) – Sophie Corrigan!
These days you’d be pushed to NOT spot Sophie’s work, it’s popping up all over the place. Sophie Corrigan illustrates, felts, paints, sketches, sculpts, and masters a whole load of crafty endeavours. You can buy her greeting cards on the high street in Paperchase, her designs online via Redbubble, Society 6, and Ooh Deer, to name but a few, and her crafty tentacles are reaching further and further still every day, with Hallmark and Tesco already under her belt.
Sophie is a real sweetie. I think we first met online via Redbubble (you can see her designs here), and since then we’ve chatted, collaborated, and inspired each other!
Sophie’s designs cover humour, the weird, the cute, and the personal, but she can tell you about that herself. 🙂 I’m so pleased to have several of her doodles on my own walls, including some tiny paintings she did of my needle felted creations (I was honoured!), and a large piece of me felting and surrounded by the odd little felted beings from Knittynudo. I believe she still has a couple of little Knittynudo bears and a pair of mischievous felted foxes to keep her company too!
Anyhoo – here are Sophie’s own words:
- Tell me about Sophie Corrigan Illustration, and the lovely quirky world you’re creating!
Hello!! I’m a full-time freelance illustrator, and my work is mainly based around the animal kingdom and nature – but I always try to add a sly hint of humour and quirkiness in everything I do! I try to make everything slightly weird, and also slightly cute – as those are my fave themes, and I naturally gravitate towards drawing like that anyway! I love to experiment with styles and medium, but pencil and digital editing is my main way of working.
- When did you first decide that you wanted to pursue art as a career?
I’ve always sort of known I didn’t want a ‘real’ job, but that was it. I loved animals but was too squeamish to be a vet, and loved writing poems but they were always a bit crap and weird, and I’ve always loved to draw so I just continued with that! I avoided thinking about jobs all through school and college, and just studied what I liked! So my subjects in college were art, European history, film studies and music. I had no idea what was going on. It was only in my last year of Uni that I realised you could actually be an illustrator – as an actual sort of job – so now I’m completely dedicated to it. Now that I’ve graduated, I still don’t really know what’s going on, but I’m enjoying myself, and always learning.
- Do you come from an arty family?
Not really, my parents aren’t arty at all! But my big brother and sister have always had similar interests to me so they influenced me a lot when I was young. My brother is a graphic designer now and my sister designs soft toys and is also joining me at Uni – to study for a Masters degree in Children’s Book Illustration! We’re study buddies now, and it’s great.
- Do you have many other crafty endeavours? Your needle felted critters are so sweet!
I love to craft things, and experiment with ways of creating unique characters! I love needle felting, as what you get at the end of a lot of time and patience is a one-off, solid, unique object (which is usually a creature in my case). They get a life of their own!! I also sort of learned to knit when I worked for Hallmark, but my memory is terrible and I’m not dextrous in the slightest… that’s why needle felting is great – you can’t actually make mistakes! I love working with clay and just having fun making stuff, but I don’t get a lot of time to work on crafts anymore, so I mainly get my creative kick from illustrating.
- Is there a particular illustration project you’re most proud of?
I’m really quite pleased with my ‘Anatomy’ series. Each one is so fun to work on, and they’re sort of like little projects in themselves, as I do lots of research into the animal before I ‘dissect’ them and label their bits! They take me a long time and a lot of effort, so I’m really pleased that people have responded to them and recognised all the work that’s gone into creating such silly little diagrams!
- How does it make you feel to know there are people all over the world wearing your designs on t-shirts, bags, and more?
It makes me feel overwhelmed, a bit uncomfortable, but extremely happy and quite proud. Each time I sell something it brings a huge smile to my face – it’s really a weird feeling. Someone out there actually gets what you’re doing, and appreciates it enough to pay you for it, and even wear it on their body or give it to their friend. That’s the coolest thing ever really, and the biggest compliment I could get!
- Do you have a favourite little critter who keeps reappearing in your work?
Well, he’s not really a critter, but different versions of Leo the Baker keeps popping up from time to time. He was the main character in a book project I did at Uni, called ‘Leo’s Lost Donut’. If I have a project with a human man in it, it’s instantly a version Leo (who is a ginger man with a bear) – he’s gained a life of his own, so I have to respect that and just include him where I can!! I’m still not sure where he came from, but there he is.
- You’ve featured your cockatiel (Tilly) in some of your drawings – are other drawings of yours inspired by living critters?
All of the axolotls in my work are of course inspired by my own axolotls – I just love to draw them, and I think when you have a pet, you get a special insight into what they’re like, so that gives you great reference to draw from. I’ve met a lot of animals (a visit to a pet shop is a day out for me) so sometimes my work is based on cute animals I’ve seen. I do watch a lot of nature shows though (Attenborough is my hero), and a huge chunk of my inspiration comes from documentaries, and just being on the look-out for things I could translate into an illustration.
- Are there any exciting new projects looming for you on the horizon that you can give us a sneak peek at?
Well, there’s quite a lot of sly things going on in the background, but I don’t want to say too much until things are set in stone – let’s just say I’ve got a busy few months ahead!! However, I can show you this – which is the cover to my first Masters project at Uni (I basically have the cover so far), and it’s called ‘I’m a Little Monkey’ (working title). I’ve written it myself, and just need to illustrate it now – but this is the first look that anyone’s seen anywhere!
- What advice would you give to an aspiring new illustrator, trying to find their way in the world?
I’d say, if you love creating, and have an idea of what you want to do, then do not give up on it. Just draw (or paint, sculpt, create – whatever!) exactly what you want to do, and do a lot of it! If you’re enjoying yourself and creating lots of work that you believe in, you will get noticed. It’s really hard but try not to be negative and just have fun with your work. Having an online presence (mainly through my website, Instagram, facebook, and an Etsy shop) has been invaluable to me, so I urge anyone who is serious about working creatively for a living to utilise the internet. Hope that helps a bit!
Thank you so much Sophie! I can’t wait to see what else comes of your MA and those super-secret-projects!