Artist Interview – Sophie Gilmore

Sophie Gilmore is a published illustrator who’s delicate work is packed with narrative and life. Both animals and figures are rendered with affection and personality. Her watercolour style is distinctive and celebrates the medium which is one of the many reasons we love her work!

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1) How do you motivate yourself?  

SG: Lists. Lists everywhere, for everything. They’re both calming and motivating. The best times are when I’m in the middle of something big and can pick up where I left off the day before. Then the lists can be joyfully ignored. If I’m having a terrible dark day, then they begin gently, like ‘eat breakfast’. Tick. Conquered that mountain.

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2)  How do you structure your time?

SG: I’ve become quite good at getting myself to the studio, Mon-Fri. My cycle across London blows away the cobwebs and makes me feel a little better about being hunched over a desk all day. I really enjoy using quiet Sunday evenings as a sort of head start on the week, jotting down little ideas for illustrations. Trying to think of things while faced with a blank sheet of paper and a clock ticking nearby is murder.

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3) What do you listen to when you work?

SG: Music used to be my go-to, but I’d get distracted thinking about who to play next, and these fractured spells of work are really no good. I was late to the audiobook party, but after a lot of trial and error I’ve found my ideal thing- some sort of epic sci-fi. Dune, Ender’s Game, Ready Player One, etc. It needs to be many hours long, and so gripping that at no point does my mind have the chance to start wandering. (Suggestions always welcome)

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4) Who are three artists that inspire you?

SG: Leonora Carrington and her bonkers life, art and novels. Maurice Sendak of course. No one is like him, with his heart and his books full of mischief, and love. And Tove Jansson. The Moomins were never part of my childhood but I managed to see some of her originals for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland last winter. The line work is out-of-this-world, especially up close. I devoured each one, nose pressed up against the glass. Also, The Summer Book.

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5) What’s the best piece(s) of advice you have been given?

SG: Don’t try to be what is currently ‘in’ in your field.

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6) Describe an object or tool related to your work that you love.

SG: Copic fine liner with refillable ink cartridge and replaceable 0.03 nib. Those girls are precise but I get through nibs like oxygen.

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7) An anonymous patron has donated $100K for you to build your dream studio, what would it look like and where would it be?

SG: It would be small but bright, a mess of wood and windows, on the edge of a deep river with a jetty for jumping off. Spiders would keep a respectful distance. There’d be desk space for others to come and work there too, because it’s a solitary existence. Plenty of good paper, and tubes of Sennelier paint, rather than my little half-pans. Also, a sackful of nibs (see above).

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Find Sophie’s work on Instagram @sophieillustrates

And online here

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