Sophie Alda is an illustrator, painter, and prop-maker based in East London. She also makes comics, and she likes gouache (and also pencil of course).
Hi there! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I live in London and I make a living making stuff and painting stuff for other people and myself. I also like some typically good things like cycling and eating. I just bought a riso printer with my cool neighbour. I like painting slanty stories in nice colours.
Are you right or left-handed?
I am right handed.
You do a lot of painting as well as digital work… what are your favourite media to work in, and why?
I use a lot of gouache because it’s radiant and flat and chalky.
What appealed to you about working in pencil for your Tiny Pencil contribution?
I really enjoyed the directness of it! It also helped to break me out of my old ways, I’ll certainly be scribbling much more in future.
What’s your favourite pencil? Brand? Wood? Mechanical?
I like a mechanical pencil for detailing and a soft smudgy black one for scribbling.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process, from the initial image or idea to the finished piece?
I’ll generally map an idea out in pencil and then convert it to whatever medium is the most appropriate, I’ll paint it in if I have time or add colour digitally if not.
How do you conceptualize/construct a piece? Do you think of it as a story, snapshot, or abstraction?
I use a series of images presented to make a suggested narrative, I like the idea that there is no one interpretation of an image but as many as there are viewers. Story is important.
Your work is really imaginative and unusual… what are some of your influences and what kind of responses are you interested in provoking in people when they look at your work?
They change all the time depending on what I’m reading and doing and thinking. At the moment I’m into drawing chairs, and I’m always into drawing buildings. I’m really into ideas about honesty but that makes me sound like a complete dick. I want people to feel good.
What was the last film you saw in the cinema?
Frances Ha, which I actually saw twice
What are the books on your bedside table?
Agh there’s a toppling pile. On the top of the pile is a couple from Chris Ware’s Building Stories
What size do you tend to work at? Why this preference?
Normally A4 or smaller for boring practical scanning reasons, I like to work bigger if I can though.
Do you have a favourite subject matter? What’s the particular attraction?
Imperfect people getting on with it, good looking things and worlds.
You’re a prop-maker as well as an artist… what do you make props for and do you think your prop-making plays into your work as a visual artist?
I make props mostly for shop windows but also for TV and advertising and big things for exhibitions.
Can you tell us about a favourite piece of yours, or a favourite creative experience?
I like collaborating with my buddies Joe Wood and Matt Swan, both of whom do amazing work.
Do you have any early memories of drawing or, what’s your first memory of an image?
No but there are some great photos of me finger painting with my dad.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
What directions are you interested in exploring in the future?
More comics, more publishing of mine and other’s work with the new riso.
Coffee, nicotine, or booze?
Favourite city in the world?
London which is nice because I live in it
Favourite city to draw/sketch/illustrate/create in?
Mexico city has the best colours
What are you working on now? What can we look forward to from you next?
I just finished painting a massive blue ceiling covered in golden barrels and grapes. And I’m working on comics and prints.
Where can people get a hold of your work, or find out more about your previous projects?
Sophie’s work appears in Issue 2.0 of Tiny Pencil: Mammals, Monsters and Mars …available to buy here!
This interview was brought to you by The Tiny Pencil – fine purveyors of the pencil arts!