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Interview with illustrator Sophie Gilmore

  • 3 min read

Today we talk all things illustration, watercolours and creativity with Sophie Gilmore and we hope you’ll be as inspired as we are!

Illustrator of our brand new Perfectly Picked Notely as well as our launch collection pieces, Girl with a Tiger and Red Delicious. What a delightfully talented lady, Miss Sophie Gilmore is…

How did you get started as an illustrator?

I’ve had my heart set on illustration since I was a little ratbag but loathed art in high school so never did well. I felt a bit lost once we were turfed out into the world. After a couple of years off the beaten track I returned to Edinburgh, worked on a portfolio and applied to Edinburgh College of Art, where I did a BA (Hons) in Illustration. And here we are.

What do you love about it?

Simply, it’s pretty great that I get to spend my days drawing which is one of my very favourite activities. Also getting to collaborate with magnificent people and their magnificent projects.

Sophie Gilmore painting in her creative garden studio

What kinds of illustration projects do you usually take on?

Anything that makes me excited, I suppose. In the past I’ve taken on one or two offers of work without thinking it through, but you could see in the body of work that my heart wasn’t in it. I really tried though.

What are your favourite tools of the trade?

To use myself: plain old watercolour and pen.

To appreciate and admire in other artists: etching and aquatint, serigraphy, weaving.

Tell us about your workspace…

I work from home, which is a houseboat in London, so in the wintertime my workspace is of the dark and dingy curled-up-in-front-of-the-fire variety, as you might expect. But spring-autumn I’m outside on the mooring under a cherry tree (handy for snacks) face in the honeysuckle (handy for suckling honey) and surrounded by buzzing things and neighbours’ cats. Either trying not to sweat onto someone’s commission (yesterday) or swathed in blankets shouting more tea! at my partner in crime (today).

Sophie Gilmore watercolour illustrator studio

Tell us about your very new Notely design ‘Perfectly Picked’…

I kind of rate destinations by the array of fresh local fruit I can devour all day every day and Brisbane seriously delivered. So when Notely, being Brisbane-based, asked me for another design I went straight for the fruit memories. We don’t have it too bad in London- a grocer nearby sells tamarillos and feijoas, staples of my childhood, but they’re never ripe and just taunt me year-round.

What was the inspiration behind your piece ‘Girl with a Tiger’ for the Notely Artist’s Collection?

Honestly, if I see an animal or insect, I want it to be my friend. So I suppose I’m living vicariously through my illustrations.

You’ve also done a course in bookbinding – what do you enjoy about working with paper?

Bookbinding is a precise art, I really enjoy the structure of it. But while there are aspects of bookbinding that have to be near perfect, the beauty is that you can go crazy with the other stuff. It’s also incredibly satisfying having a thing at the end of the day, a thing you can turn over in your hands and leaf through. I guess there’s also that, for me, it’s nowhere near as personal as illustration, so while I feel a bit shy to show people my illustrations, when I make a decent book I can shove it in people’s faces and say LOOK AT THIS THING I MADE.

Sophie Gilmore designs for Notely Artist Collection

If we peeked over your shoulder on an average day, what would we find you sketching in your Notely?

You would see mocked-up pages of books, spreads full of animal drawings where I’ve flirted with new styles then discarded them all and just gone with my same old, and a whole lot of lists. I have a Notely in every bag, every pocket, tucked in to every book. There’s never one far from me. Like rats.

See Sophie’s Artist Collection in the shop →