Drawing inspiration from Illustration graduate Sophie Melissa
17 February 2022
Creating content for Vogue, Liberty London, Penguin, Harper Collins, Hardie Grant, WIRED and BA is all in a day’s work for Illustration graduate Sophie Melissa. Here, she reveals how she sharpened her skills at Falmouth.
What made you want to travel to Cornwall for your studies?
I chose Falmouth because the Illustration alumni were really inspiring. The course has such a strong reputation in the illustration world and I loved the fact that it was so hands-on.
I also loved the idea of studying five minutes from the beach. Falmouth more than lived up to my expectations and quickly became my home. New friends soon felt like family.
How did the Illustration course help develop your skills?
I used my first year to experiment and to soak up everything we were learning. We covered all areas of the industry and what to expect afterwards.
In my third year, it was as if a switch flipped and I felt confident in my style. I spent a day in the print-making studio and scanned all the textures I’d made to convert them into Photoshop brushes; I still use many of them today. Workwise, this was a major turning point.
Illustration is a competitive industry, but after my degree I felt fully prepared. At Falmouth you’re surrounded by people who share your passion and the course tutors are so experienced in the industry.
Do you have any stand out memories from your time at Falmouth?
A third-year trip to New York was a real highlight. It gave me so much confidence and even more determination to get work as
an illustrator ‘out in the wild’. With help from tutors, we organised visits to top agencies, publishers and newspapers. It was surreal to sit with the art director of The New Yorker, at the top of the One World Trade Centre, and hear such positive comments about the work I’d made at my desk in Cornwall.
We exhibited our best work at New Designers in London, in the summer of graduation, where I was awarded the Society of Artists Agents (SAA) Associate Prize for New Talent in Illustration. This included six months with a top illustration agency. I chose to work with New Division, now named Meiklejohn, and within weeks landed my first editorial commission. They chose to keep working with me and I haven’t looked back since.
What's the best part of your job?
As a big book lover, my favourite work is cover illustration. There’s nothing more exciting than representing someone’s story and seeing your work in a bookstore. My covers include Voices of the Windrush Generation, No Such Thing as Perfect and the cookbook Hangover Helper, which featured a full-page illustration for every recipe.
Illustration is a competitive industry, but after my degree I felt fully prepared. At Falmouth you’re surrounded by people who share your passion and the course tutors are so experienced in the industry. I took full advantage of their feedback. In fact, I wouldn’t have my career without them.