Sophie on where it started:
My passion for art and conservation has always been ingrained in me; I guess you could say that it’s innate. My journey to become an artist, however, wasn’t as straight forward. As a young adult, I worked in the film and television industries. I was still trying to find my place in the world and working on film sets was fun and interesting, but irregular and unreliable. When I reached my mid-twenties, I decided to go and get a ‘proper’ job, so I trained to become a primary school teacher.
I strongly believe that we all have our own individual passions, interests, and skills for a reason – you just need to discover what yours are and go for it. I had painted and drawn animals since I was a child, but being a full-time, professional ‘artist’ seemed out of the realm of possibility for me. Luckily, my close friends encouraged me to give it a go (and luckily, I listened). Alongside teaching, I started to put my work out there and before I knew it, I was a full-time artist. Since then, I have founded the online art gallery and store,
Art Basket, and donate 10% of my profits to wildlife and conservation charities.
I don’t regret the strange, indirect path that I took to becoming an artist, as I learnt so much along the way. My experience working on film sets fuelled my passion for creativity and I still love to get involved with schools to encourage future generations to make a difference.
Sophie on inspiration:
When I first started out as an artist, I would paint wildlife because I liked wildlife; I painted whichever animal caught my attention at the time. The more involved I got with the conservation side of wildlife art, however, the more I started to realise how dire the situation is on our planet. Now, I paint to raise awareness of not only the beauty of wildlife, but the fragility and vulnerability of it too. I draw inspiration from the causes that are close to my heart and the animals that need saving.
Sophie on challenges:
I think everybody faces challenges in their career at some stage. Being an artist can be hard work, competitive and financially volatile in the beginning, but I try not to focus on the ‘disasters’ that crop up sometimes and instead celebrate the little successes every day. I have been very fortunate in my career so far and have connected with so many incredible and inspiring people with a similar vision.
Sophie on social media:
I’m not ashamed to say that social media has played a huge role in my career as an artist. It’s such a powerful marketing and networking tool, yet it’s completely free and anybody can use it. My artwork sits in countries all over the world – it’s a reach that I simply wouldn’t have been able to get without Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… It’s also been extremely helpful for me to still stay connected with art dealers and buyers whilst social gatherings like gallery exhibitions have been prohibited.
Sophie on aspirations:
I’m definitely a fan of dreaming big; coming up with the most outlandish goal and trying to make that manifest in some way. Ultimately though, as long as I continue to grow as an artist, learn new skills, meet new people and make a difference, I will be happy.
Sophie’s advice for aspiring artists:
Keep creating art. Always. Even if it’s not selling, or you’re working 3 jobs on the side. Even if other people tell you they ‘don’t get it’, or your work is rejected by art competitions and galleries. It’s easy to view being an artist as ‘pie in the sky’ or unattainable and it’s certainly not an easy career path, but if it was easy, then everybody would be doing it!
When I first started out, I painted and painted and sold very little. I had so many original paintings and limited-edition prints mounting up in my house that I barely had any room for furniture. But I didn’t stop; I continued to paint, practise, and share my art with the world, whilst working as a full-time teacher. Slowly, people started to see my artwork as an investment, rather than buying it as a ‘favour’, and the paintings started selling. I sold every single one of my paintings and haven’t had an unsold piece of artwork in my house since. So keep creating art!