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Sophie Filomena

Illustrator and Designer

Does social media influence any of your ideas?

It gives me an idea of what people just based on what I personally post so some designs will get more attention than others so it kind of subconsciously sways me in that direction to make more stuff like that. 

To make a living out of it you’ve got to appeal to the masses sometimes and it gives you an idea of what to put in the shops but in terms of my own stuff I just make what I want to make and if people like it that’s a bonus!

What would you say your most useful tool is?

Probably my graphics tablet, that’s got me pretty far I guess.  My Mum gave it to me for Christmas. It was really difficult to use at first and then it just clicked and I make most of my art with my illustrations with that. I used to be very traditional and fine art and now I’ve gone the other way and I’ve been too digital and I think that’s where the earrings came in. I’m always just developing my style. My Fimo clay is also now one of my best tools as of the last couple of months!

Are you linked with other creatives in the South West and beyond? If so, who and where?

So I worked with Fashion Photographer Andy Hoang. He’s an amazing photographer based in Bristol. He shot this fashion shoot at the Portishead Lido. It’s an outdoor swimming pool and the walls are really colourful; it’s 80s style Memphis design. He shot a bunch of models there and got me to illustrate the on top of the pictures he took.

I also did an earring collaboration with a girl who works downstairs (in the Island, Nelson Street, Bristol), Daisy J Wood, and she’s like the fine art version of me who just paints loads of like abstract splodges but it’s really good!

Have you got any tips/advice for dealing with clients and staying organised?

Yeah, just be professional but don’t be like a stiff robot. Most clients are really nice. When you’re approached by a client I like to get to know them and their brand so just make it your mission to really understand what they are so you can produce work that is really personal to them and it makes them feel like you understand them so in the future they’ll probably want to come back to you so you can have more work out of them if you just put the effort in he first place.

How do clients find you/contact you?

Other illustrators suggest me if they don’t have the time to do it other times it’s just through social media. Social media’s really helped me I’ve got a lot of work through that. The best way to do that to get noticed is to have an agent and then they’ll give you work through that. 

What kinds of problems or challenges do you come across whilst you”re creating?

Well for example, with this brief I’m working on for Women’s Health, the ideas behind that were really abstract. You had to represent infertility and syndromes like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and I’m sort of faced with ‘how the hell do I draw that without being too gory and graphic?!’ You’ve got to just think how you can represent things without being offensive and make it look nice as well. The initial ideas I struggle with a bit because in my work I’m very immediate so I like to just go for it and start drawing and see what happens. It’s probably not the best way to work because the clients they’re like “oh i just need a few changes” and then there’s this giant list and you almost have to start all over again whereas if I’d just made a few sketches in the first place and explored more ideas it might have been better…

How do you keep your work contemporary and fresh?

Is it though?! (yeah!) Oh right, well, I don’t really actively think about that. I think everybody gets subconsciously influenced from our surroundings anyway. I think my work is quite contemporary at the minute because everybody’s into this tropical 80s vibe thats been going for a while and I’m into that anyway. So it may fall out of fashion like next year, I’ll be absolutely screwed! 

What’s your main source of inspiration?

I just grew up with a lot of 80s music and post-apocalyptic films although it doesn’t look post-apocalyptic. Those sort of films are usually set in Japan and China Town and that sort of thing so I like to fuse those two elements together with the bright colours. The Memphis movement is definitely an inspiration. Just bright patterns and colours. It’s just getting it from my brain onto the page. 

Have you got any plans for the future?

There might be a big project in the new year, I’ll hopefully get PR with a brand called Redbull! But we’ll see what happens! But yeah I’m actually in the process of trying to get a portfolio together to send off for an agent just ‘cause I want more work now, more illustrative work.

By Katie Howard, Chloe Ham and Chloe Marshall


A freelance Illustrator and Designer who is based in Bristol. She has worked on various commissions including: Fashion Collabs, Editorial, Branding, Package Design, EP Album Covers, Murals and Editorials.