Artist interview: Sofia Englund
'Science and Space' was our theme for the Make it in Design live brief this year, and we had some stunning entries from their students. Sofia Englund's designs particularly stood out - we loved how she took a microscopic pattern and turned it into a creative and original surface design for our cushions. In her interview, she tells us more about her process and how pattern design is the next challenge in a very varied career!
How long have you been an artist? I’ve always been a creative person. Growing up, I was always drawing, writing stories, making picture books, etc. At university, I studied film production in Australia, where I wrote and directed a short film that won a few awards. I also have a screenwriting diploma on top of that.
I’ve had a few different jobs since then: TV scheduler in London, Divemaster in Borneo, and health care worker in Sweden, until I started my own business as a freelance translator and copywriter. I stumbled across a pattern design course just over a year ago and that was it – I knew I had found my creative dream job! I went on to do Make it in Design module 1-3 and several other courses. To me, designing is the ultimate creative outlet.
Which artists have inspired you? So many! I’m inspired by a mix of old and contemporary artists, designers and illustrators, but to name a few: Lisa Congdon, Mary Blair, Stig Lindberg, Josef Frank, Olle Eksell, Leah Duncan, Flora Waycott, Elizabeth Olwen, Carson Ellis, Jon Klassen, Lauren Lowen and Sabina Radeva – and many, many more that I see on Instagram and Pinterest every day.
How did you take the step to start selling your art? I’ve just started taking those steps, and the first one was doing the live brief for Wraptious!
How did you start promoting yourself? By creating my Instagram account and start sharing my work there. The creative community on Instagram is incredibly generous and supportive; it’s a great place to connect with people and get feedback on your work.
What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome as an artist? The biggest challenge so far was probably in the beginning, when I had all these ideas and they never came out the way I had visualised. That can be quite frustrating, and it can be difficult to stay confident – especially with all the gorgeous work out there – but you just need to carry on and push through it. Luckily there’s always Youtube and Skillshare to help you along :)
What's the best piece of advice you could give to emerging artists, from your experience? Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to find your style. They often say it can take 3-5 years to really find your style, so all you can do is practice. Learn to critique your own work though, I think that’s really important for your creative development. Also, what do you want to see in the world? What would you be making if no one was watching? If there was no Instagram and no financial pressure? I think the answers to those questions can help guide you. But most importantly: make sure you’re having fun and enjoy the process!
How did you find the live brief process? How did you decide on a design? I had a lot of fun with it! The ‘space or science’ theme was a bit tricky at first, but then it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out an idea I’d had for a while: a macro look at nature. The world is absolutely stunning through a macro lens, and I have a whole Pinterest board with extreme closeups from the natural world.
I drew some stylized microbes by hand and then imported them to Illustrator to clean them up and create the designs. I only used one of my drawings in the end and repeated that in various shapes and forms. I wanted one design to be a macro shot of several motifs (‘Microbe Mania’), and the other one to be an extreme closeup of one motif (‘Microbe Macro’). I was trying to design something that would stand out as a small thumbnail on the website, but that I could also see myself using on my sofa.
In an ideal world, what would you be doing? This – designing and illustrating all day long!
What three things could you not live without? My laptop, Wacom tablet and the internet (so important for work and online courses!)