HCwBB Presents: Sophia Mary Mac

HCwBB Presents is a monthly feature that aims to provide us with more information about the women who inspire us and their work. Each long form piece will focus on one woman and her career within her chosen field. It will not only showcase the existing work of the individual, but also delve further into their methods, mediums, and motives.

This month, we’re in conversation with illustrator and artist, Sophia Mary Mac.

Sophia at ‘Australianarama’ (Image by Alana Potts via Analogue Gallery)

Emma Kate Lewis: Please can you tell me a bit about who you are what you do?

Sophia Mary Mac: I’m a commercial illustrator and artist. I actually spend half my time being a digital product designer (UX/UI), and the other half illustrating, but let’s just talk about the illustration today.

EKL: What motivates you as an artist?

SMM: So many things!

I think Queensland has a pretty fantastic design and arts scene, and I’m constantly inspired by the hard-working network around me.

I remember Grace Dewar, First Coat Queen, outlined once how important it is to add to the city you live in – so that has been a huge motivation for me.

I also find massive motivation and inspiration in travel; I’ve spent about a third of the last few years back and forth between Australia and places overseas. The constantly changing environments I find myself in are a huge inspiration, and the excitement of getting back home to work on new projects is something that really drives me.

Image via Sophia Mary Mac

 

EKL: What are the themes you explore in your work? Why are they important to you?

SMM: The bulk of the content I work with is location-based.

I try and only work on content that is native to the area that I am in.

I’m usually based in Australia, so most of my work is Australian, but I have spent a lot of time working on bodies of work in Iceland, Sweden, Scotland, Eastern Europe, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

My illustration studies the relationship between native fauna and flora (mainly flora) and the man-made elements that affect it, which are generally destructive forces.

Image by Sophia Mary Mac

 

EKL: Could you tell me about your artistic process and preferred mediums?

SMM: As I said earlier, my process is very dependant on the location that I am in – I usually begin with a lot of research on the land that I intend to visit or am on, and then begin to collect what I can for observational illustrations, which make up the preliminary stages of my artistic process. I have hundreds of tiny sketchbooks full of drawings of tiny twigs, fish hooks and leaves. I then start to build larger compositions based on those collections of drawings. My work is very detail-based and I only work in black and white – generally on large scale archive paper with technical drawing pens (pens of choice: Ironlak and Sukura pigma microns). I have also started doing large scale murals, which follow the same process as above, but with house paint 😉

Image via Sophia Mary Mac

 

EKL: Your exhibition in collaboration with Col McElwaine, ‘Australianarama‘, took place at Analogue Gallery earlier this month. What was it like collaborating, and what about ‘Australianarama’ was most significant to you?

SMM: Yes, it did! It was a hoot working with Col McElwaine. Although our illustration style and personalities are on opposite ends of the spectrum, we manage to get on like a house on fire. The collaboration process was really fun – I learnt a lot from him, and also learnt how much I really value working with another artist.

It’s great to work independently, but there is something truly purposeful in collaboration.

We both share a real affinity with ‘Australianarama’ – from the ideas of localism, the micro details of Australian behaviour, and the alien form of the native environment.

Sophia and Col at ‘Australianarama’ (Image by Alana Potts via Analogue Gallery)

 

EKL: You’re also running one of The Design Conference Brisbane 2017’s Breakouts this month – May must be manic for you! What can attendees expect from your breakout and what are you most looking forward to about The Design Conference?

SMM: Yes I am – I’m actually running two! On Thursday, I am running an illustrative detail class, using Ironlak technical pens, and on the Friday I will be teaching a digital illustration class using a Wacom tablet.

I’m hoping to tell the story of my content and process, and express the importance that I put on both as an illustrator and artist.

I am so pumped for this year’s conference. I love this time of the year where the design/art community really come together and support one another.

EKL: You’re a First Coat artist this year – congratulations! I remember watching you paint your first (incredible) mural at Toowoomba’s Kontraband Studios in December last year, and this one is also phenomenal. So, tell me, what was the experience like?

Sophia’s first mural for Kontraband Studios (Image via Sophia Mary Mac)

 

SMM: I’ve just gotten back from First Coat today and seriously, nobody has ever been as much of a ball of love and gratitude as I currently am. I think First Coat is an amazing initiative, and I really idolise Grace Dewar and Ian McCallum for all the work they put into it.

I had the opportunity to meet artists I have looked up to for so long.

I made coffee for Lauren Hom (New York) in my home, I shared noodles with Nadia Hernandez, I sat across from Beastman at dinner, I rap-squatted with Rabi (Cyrcle, LA), the list goes on… Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I spent the weekend heavily suppressing my inner fangirl. I also had a really great time painting my mural. I had a lot of physical help from friends, which made it a really fun and rewarding experience. I’m proud of the final product, which is not actually a feeling I have regularly, so I’m on a real high at the moment.

Sophia’s completed First Coat mural (Image via Tumblr)

 

EKL: If it’s even possible for you to begin thinking about with all that you’ve got going on at the moment, what’s next for you career-wise?

SMM: It’s pretty difficult to think outside of May at the moment, but I do still have some exciting things in the works. I’ve got collaborations that I’m really looking forward to (keep an eye on my social media for announcements), I’m starting an online store and selling prints, and I would like to explore my native theme internationally through mural making.

Sophia in her home (Image via Facebook)

Follow Sophia’s work on her website as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.


Answers by Sophia Mary Mac

Images as individually credited

Featured Image by Anna Apuli

Questions and Edits by Emma Kate Lewis

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