‘I feel like the spectre of the tortured artist best describes my career start,’ laughs Sophie Beer, who originally studied law and literature at university, believing that creative careers didn’t exist. Disengaged, the budding artist was a chronic doodler in the margins of her lecture pads. After graduating, Sophie put her doodling to good use as a side hustle – she started an Etsy shop selling ‘terrible Game of Thrones knock-off prints’. They sold like hot pigeon pies (traditional Westeros fare) and left Sophie thinking there was something in this doodling business after all!
Sophie learned how to use Photoshop – her sole illustrating tool – and built up her skills and portfolio while working a day job in marketing and communications. In 2016 she left this role to pursue illustration full time. She’s now represented by The Jacky Winter Group and The Bright Agency and has a diverse and impressive body of client work behind her.
Working from her home on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Sophie’s colourful, captivating work is influenced by mid-century illustrations. ‘I love the sillier, lighter sides of art,’ she says. ‘Embrace what makes you happy. Life is too short for your art to be boring.’ Sophie leaned on these sentiments for comfort in early 2017, when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour on her hearing nerve. The tumour was removed soon after and has significantly impacted Sophie’s hearing. ‘I’m still dealing with the emotional after-effects: I’m an avid music lover and to have a tumour decimate my hearing evoked a grief beyond words… After a brush with mortality, I decided life was too precarious and fleeting to waste time with things I didn’t enjoy, so I threw myself into my dream of making children’s books!’
Since then, Sophie feels very lucky to have aligned herself with Hardie Grant Egmont (HGE). ‘They have some wonderful ideas about how to progress the Australian children books market, so I’m super chuffed to be working with such a luminous publisher.’ When HGE approached Sophie with the idea of doing a bright, fun picture book about inclusivity and rainbow families, she jumped at the chance. ‘With Love Makes A Family, we’ve specifically tried to make the focus of the illustrations on the acts of everyday love that parents and carers give to their kids. The fact that the love and hugs are coming from two Dads, two Mums, or Grandparents is incidental to the love itself!’
Follow Sophie Beer’s illustration on her website Sophie-beer.com.