Graduates 2020: Sophie Walker: Illustration

When looking at my portfolio, it’s a very mixed bag. I tend to pride myself on my versatility over a variety of mediums.  

My older projects focus on the use of traditional raw materials such as painting, and oil pastel drawings and my newer works take on a photographic approach. My final year of my degree was the year where I really pushed my boundaries in my practice. The thought of anything technical and software-based certainly frightened me when choosing a media for projects. Now at the end of my degree, I view photography as my primary source of visually communicating. However, I understand now that each project is different, and I have adopted a mindset which enables me to be open to making specific design decisions based on different briefs. 

Album Cover for Eyesdown

I continue to be influenced by my love for art history in my work. Whether it be the masters of the Italian Renaissance or the Abstract Expressionist movement in the mid 20th century, I always find myself reaching for the art history books to seek inspiration. I credit my passion for nature and world cultures for also having a prominent influence on my work. In January 2020, I wrote my dissertation on Minimalism in Design and explored how our lives could be better with having less. I’ve previously drawn parallels with this investigation in my studio practice by exploring Japanese Zen art and spontaneous mark-making.

Feature Project:  Inside, Looking Out –

“On Monday 23rd March 2020, the UK, along with the rest of the world was ordered by the government to stay indoors as a response to limit the spread of COVID -19 (Coronavirus). Such control over society hadn’t been seen since the war years. Home by home closed its doors to the outside world with the only exceptions of escaping for grocery shopping and daily exercise. We could no longer socialise with family or friends outside of our households and groups of more than 2 in public were banned. Supermarkets implemented a 2-meter rule to keep staff and shoppers away from each other. In one day, our lives were changed. Intimacy and closeness became a crime. This led to people being forced to be alone with their thoughts. I wanted to make a memento to remember this dramatic moment in our history. I wanted to discover what was going through people’s minds each day. I focused on windows. Windows became our vice to look out, onto an empty world. A world that had become a shell of itself. A window has always been our point to ponder, to collect and gather thoughts of the day. Now, the poignancy of our window-gaze is stronger than ever.” 

This is the first interactive project in my portfolio and the first community-based and crowd-sourced project that I have led. I took to social media and used it as a tool to request people from all over the world to send me images of their windows and any accompanying quotes to narrate their thoughts during the pandemic. The responses are certainly mixed, some quite emotionally tied to the current affairs and some demonstrating a mentality that is preserved throughout the crisis, perhaps focusing on the simple things such as keeping the garden tidy. I enjoy the contrast between both perspectives and feel it provides a sense of layered depth to the project while achieving a ‘home-made’ essence to the submissions. Some images are low quality, some even have thumb marks in the frame – it all adds to the humble authenticity. Overall, I collected over 100 submissions from all around the world, some stretching as far as Australia, Bermuda and Thailand. I decided to collate all the images on a platform that could be accessible by all, such as the internet and social media. It gives the people that participated a sense of belonging and achievement to see their windows being featured as part of a community-based project. This project works effectively as it demonstrates how creative ideas can be pushed into and be interpreted by every corner of the world. 


How have you found your course/time at Brighton?

I have found my time here at Brighton studying BA illustration very pivotal in my development as a creative. Looking back at my mindset when I first began the course in September 2017, I felt afraid to jump into anything too technical or complex. I wanted all of my work to look aesthetically pleasing and was afraid of imperfection, as it knocked my confidence to carry on and finish a project. I am grateful to my former-self for having these flaws as a creative and for my current-self for overcoming and continuously working on them. University was a driving force behind this positive shift. 


What are your plans after Graduation?

In September 2020, I will begin my teacher training year by studying for a PGCE in Secondary Art & Design at University of Brighton. This career path also allows me to build my personal practice along-side my professional development as a teacher.


Visit Sophie’s website

Follow Sophie on Instagram

Inside looking out on Instagram

Press coverage of Sophie’s project

Find out more about BA(Hons) Illustration

See more of Sophie’s work in the Graduate Show 2020

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