We collaborated on with rad illustrator Sophia Gach -Rasool on our Internationals Women’s Day theme
We got in touch with Sophia because we love the way her color-crammed, vibrant illustrations capture characters so often overlooked by the design world – whether they’re women of color or body shapes that are underrepresented in art.
Here we chat to Sophia about honing her art and juggling full time work with her side-hustle. You can find more of Sophia’s work on her website and check out her Instagram too!
Your work spans illustration, graphics, advertising and marketing materials…what’s your sweet spot?
“My preferred medium is digital illustration, especially doing work for brands. Illustration is such an expressive medium and I find that it allows my work to really come alive. I do all of my work on my Macbook Pro using a Wacom tablet, but I really want to try using an iPad and Apple pencil.”
What work are you most proud of?
“I’m extremely proud of the 10 foot infographic I designed and created for the Maryland Institute College of Art MFA curatorial program’s show, “Everyday, Everyday, Everyday, Everyday Freedoms” in conjunction with For Freedoms.
“Based on the research and idea of Bilphena Yahwon, the work, titled, “Why Do All the Black Girls Have an Attitude?” compares the disparity of suspension and expulsion rates between black and white girls not only in Baltimore City, but all across the US.
“I had a super tight turn-around time of 48 hours which included analyzing the research and conceptualizing the design. The final product exceeded my expectations!”
Have you ever had anyone copy your style?
“I have yet to come across anyone blatantly emulating my style, but I wonder if I’d be able to tell.
“I absolutely love inspiring other designers and illustrators, and as long as they aren’t copying my work, I encourage artists to draw inspiration wherever they find it, as long as the end result is unique to their style and process.”
When you’re given the brief for a new project, what is your process?
“Research. Research. Research. I always start by consuming as many sources of inspiration as I can. I scour Pinterest, design blogs, websites, and even books and magazines sometimes, until I feel I have a direction.
“I’d never copy work, but I sometimes find things like compositions, colors, styles, poses, and layouts that spark my creativity. Then, I’ll do a rough sketch, transfer to my computer, and start designing or illustrating. “
You’re balancing full time work with freelance – how do you manage your time and what gives you energy?
“I’m not going to lie, it’s definitely difficult to manage. My full time job is as a graphic designer, so sometimes when I come home the last thing I want to do is stare at my laptop for another four hours.
“My motivation comes from knowing where I’d like to take my career and working hard to get there. I have learned the best way to motivate myself is to take on projects that I want to work on and saying no when it just isn’t the right fit for me. I used to say yes to any project that I was offered, but I was miserable and I didn’t like the work I was creating.”
How does social media influence your work?
“Social media is a catalyst to reach new audiences and be exposed to brands and people that likely would not come across my work otherwise. It’s hard not to get caught up in our current consumption culture. Artists are feeling the pressure to constantly churn out new work, which I think can harm the quality of the work.”
"It's hard not to get caught up in our current consumption culture. Artists are feeling the pressure to constantly churn out new work, which I think can harm the quality of the work."
Your figurative work features a lot of women – are they characters drawn from real life or imagination?
“Most of my figures are based on real people, or rather many different people. If I’m trying to draw a person that is my own, I typically use many different reference images.”
You’re active in the women of color design community – are you seeing shifts in the underrepresentation in the design world?
“There has been an increase in women of color gaining prominence and notoriety in the design community, however, that does not change the culture of design as a whole. We need women of color in leadership positions and running design studios.”
Which women creatives inspire you?
“I have so many inspirations! Way too many to name but a few that come to mind are:”