Tea for tattoo with Sophie Jonas Hill
Magnificent award-winning illustrator Sophie Jonas-Hill created the beautiful artwork for Issue 7 of the Fawcett Times. Her distinctive hand drawings are mostly created using pen, ink and watercolour. She conjures beautiful worlds with a twist of dark humour and mayhem.
From metal work and making jewellery, to pattern cutting in the wedding industry, Sophie knows life has a trick of getting in the artist’s way. She was working in a school careers department to fit with family life when she wisely took her own advice and ran for the hills. An MA in Illustration at Falmouth University followed and she graduated with Distinction in 2021. Shortly afterwards, Sophie won the Brand Licensing Europe License This! competition and struck a deal with Trade Mark Products and HMV, the iconic pop culture store. Launched under Sophie’s apparel design label The House of Inky Moon, her brilliant Dead Time Stories range is available in their stores now! Just the ticket for Hallowe’en and rather splendid for teen Christmas gifts!
Sophie also creates art work for events such as Tomorrow’s Ghosts, a Goth music festival in Whitby and is a book illustrator. She can also be also booked for editorial pieces and personal commissions. Splendid!
Fellow ‘analogue souls in a digital world’, Sophie and Captain Fawcett’s Cate met for a a lovely cup of tea. Let’s talk about…
My favourite is Yorkshire Tea, the Biscuit Brew. It’s slightly sweet and I love it so much I buy it in bulk. I get through 8 boxes a month!
…Tea for Tattoo
I love the humorous juxtaposition of two great British traditions - tea and tattoos! I made a tea service for my best friend’s fiftieth. She cries with laughter at Eddie Izzard’s ‘Cake or Death?’ routine, so our friends crowdfunded a cup or a saucer until we had a whole cake or death tea service.
I was nearly on the first series of Bake Off. I got to the last audition with 3 men and 37 women! Mary Berry was very impressed with my coconut and lemon sponge. I also injected a chocolate cupcake with absinthe and that went down well. I used to sell alcoholic cupcakes at a fetish club, all injected with different spirits.
I actually got tattooed on TV! About 14 years ago I got winged hearts on my legs for a show called London Ink. My husband’s just starting getting one of my tall narrative strips on his back. It’s going to be about 2 year’s worth of work. My illustrations are very lined based, so lend themselves to tattooing.
After my MA I entered the BLE License This! competition, around licensing a creative idea. I couldn’t believe it when I got through to the final. I had to do a live presentation, so I took my best friend and did a sort of stand up routine. And I won! I was genuinely astonished. And through the prize I met a guy from Trade Mark Products who works with HMV. As a teenager I used to hang out in HMV all the time, so it’s really mind blowing to see my Dead Time Stories in their stores. And a massive confidence boost as they’re so selective about who they work with. I’ve just been signed to a branding agency so the future’s looking really exciting.
My dad was an architect who drew plans on very hard, crisp tracing paper. I used to draw with colour pencils on his old plans and loved the slightly translucent look. Fast forward to 2018 and my MA. I started layering tracing paper and applying free, expressive colour using alcohol ink pens. Then I’d put another sheet on top and work on that layer in detail. With 3 or 4 layers, the background gets fainter. Then I’d shine a light though the paper, play with it and see where it was going to go. I really enjoy this tactile surface and the amazing sense of depth with the glowing luminescent effect. I love that misty, foggy quality. My favourite weather is autumn days when the sun shines through the mist. It’s the kind of weather where the dimensions soften and you imagine you might be able to just walk into different world. I love that feeling.
I always did the Chap Magazine Chap Olympics with my husband. He won gold several times, dressed as a Victorian strong man! So I love Captain Fawcett’s vintage style. The whole brand has a fantastic tongue in cheek quality. I met Richie at the Spring Fair trade show. He told me about Captain Fawcett’s Marvellous Museum and the wall of moustache guard cups. It’s a brilliantly obscure thing to have a collection of! And also it’s amazing to think about a society with that level of etiquette and attention to detail where such things were considered necessary. Really fascinating. I invented the Walrus character with big whiskers based on that era of protecting your moustache while drinking tea, a tribute to the Captain Fawcett’s world.
In lockdown I was part of an oral history project organised by the Arts Council. People’s personal histories expressed as drawings.. Residents of Medway in Kent talked about their childhood memories and then we illustrated them. I worked with this lovely lady called Betty who talked about the late 30s into the war. She reminisced about all the mums organising a savings club to fund a day trip to Margate for wartime families.
Being a writer as well as an artist I love narrative, but I’m making up a fairy story with no plot. I put the drawings out there and the idea is people then make up their own narrative. Some people use them as prompts to write their own stories, then I might incorporate their ideas in the next illustration. It’s a lovely free form thing, going back and forth.
I do book illustration. I’ve created drawings for a biblical book, which isn’t really my area but the stories are brilliant. And I’m working on one about parrots. I tend to get the story and then illustrate it, but sometimes the author has an idea of strong images springing from their text. Book illustrations is a balance. You don’t want to show everything, you need to leave space for the reader’s imagination and you can swamp that if you try to define too much. So I really like marginalia, little moments like thoughts, just popping up within the text.
…Strangely Quiet Children
I’m developing children’s book characters based on medieval creatures in an odd book without words from the 1600s. I have nothing against noise and fart jokes but I write stories for that strangely quiet child whose probably excessively neat and has a book in their bag and a briefcase. And their room is very tidy with a dolls’ house.
I’ve created fantastically strange wedding portraits for people. And artworks recording individual lives and memories. I love capturing oral history as drawings. I’m always happy to discuss new projects!
Sounds cool? If you want to commission your own beautifully bespoke piece from the magical mind of Sophie Jonas-Hill, here’s how to find her! www.sophiejonashill.com