The Q&A: Sophie Cangelosi

By Peggy Roalf   Monday June 26, 2017

Q: Originally from Dallas, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in Portland, Maine?

A: I was actually born in Portland, Maine, but went through most of my growing pains in the suburbs of Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. I currently reside back in lovely Portland. I have to say, after living eight hours away from the nearest beach growing up, I really appreciate being a stone’s throw from the ocean. It’s the best therapy for me to sit on the Eastern Promenade here and look out at the ocean when my head is a little foggy. Portland is the perfect size city for me at this moment in my life; there’s often plenty going on in town while still being small enough to be very walkable and low-key.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper versus on the computer?

A: I do keep a sketchbook, but I’m not very loyal to it. Being the forgetful person I am, I often find myself without it when I’m out and about. I end up sketching on whatever I have available in front of me. I’d say my time between sketching by hand and working on the computer is split right down the middle. My projects vary so much. I usually sketch with pencil since that feels more natural to me. Then I move to the computer to clean up the image and finalize it.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: My drawing tablet, hands down. It’s so versatile! I can accomplish so many different kinds of tasks and projects with it.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: There’s a moment when I find myself hesitating to make any more marks. I’ve definitely learned the hard way that I should follow that instinct.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: Being the self-absorbed child we often are, I really really enjoyed When Sophie Gets Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. I was a blond, blue eyed, sassy child who often fought with her sister and loved spending time by the ocean or in the woods, so I related very much to that book. I’d often pull this book out and show it to my parents to express angst when they would send me to my room for time-out. Not to mention, I really adored the vibrant and expressive illustrations.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: I thoroughly enjoyed Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It’s an important reminder that feminism is a continuous process of growth rather than a purity contest.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: While I most often use digital media for client work, I will always have a love affair with brush and ink. We play well together. Ink is simple and versatile. I often bounce between graphic and painterly styles, and ink can both accommodate and challenge that… or even be everything in between.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: I spend a lot of time in my head, maybe too much time. A lot of things I make come from transient images floating through. Also, I moved back to Maine because it is so visually inspiring. I get a lot of ideas from walking around Portland and observing the historic architecture and the eclectic people.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: I suppose it was Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. The book first, and then the movie—both are excellent. I think the formation of my love for ink came from reading that and Black Hole by Charles Burns. The formation of that molded my stylistic preferences and my illustrative approach.

Q: Who was the [Thunderbolt] teacher or mentor or visiting artist who most influenced you early in your training or career?

A: I had the wonderful privilege of accessing a graphic design & illustration class with Denise Harman, in high school. This was where I got the most room to explore my interests as a teenager. I had access to a photo studio, where I got to explore digital tablets and adobe programs for the first time. I learned about graphic design, type, and lettering.  All I had been exposed to throughout my previous years in grade school were classes where I was given a large canvas and painted with oils and acrylics, or I was given a pencil and instructed to make a still life composition. I enjoyed those things and they make up some important parts of my creative foundation, but it wasn’t quite what I envisioned in my future. It was in Denise’s class where I learned more about the world of communication arts and was able to build a solid vision of how I could take my passion and turn it into my profession.

A number of friends who are now creative professionals discovered their love for their practice in her class as well, and were given the same support system to follow their passions if they didn’t already have that road map established. I am so lucky to have had someone in my early education who was such a strong advocate for creative professionals, on top of being such an inspirational individual. I know a lot of kids feel anxious and unsure about their future, and Denise has a way of alleviating some of that fear and turning it into determination.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Easy! Nacho Supremo from Spiral Diner in Fort Worth, Texas.

Sophie Cangelosi is an illustrator and fine artist based in Portland, Maine. While her focuses lie in graphic illustration, hand lettering, and mural installation, Sophie remains enthusiastic to experiment with new mediums to convey messages. When Sophie isn't working, she can be found spending time by the ocean, gulping down caffeine, and not referring herself in the third person.  
Instagram: @sophiecangelosi
Solo Exhibition: Windowsat Pinecone + Chickadee in Portland, Maine. Opening reception July 7th 5-8 PM. Show continues through July 31st.



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