Sofia Figliè is an illustrator born and raised in Carrara. She started drawing at an early age and, when she was only 6, she won a painting contest. She attended a course of artistic studies in her hometown, and then Sofia moved to Florence for attending the course of graphic art at the Academy; in these Florence’s years she began to approach the world of illustration, especially thanks to the influence of her teacher Maurizio Olivotto. Afterwards, she enrolled in a two-year course of illustration at the ISIA (Istituto Superiore Industrie Artistiche) of Urbino and in 2017 she obtained her degree by making an animated video clip. She currently lives in Carrara, working as a freelance illustrator.
What mainly influences your art and your expressive language? During the course at the ISIA, I learned to give a meaning to every “sign”. I strongly believe that intentions must always be justified because you are working for others and not for yourself. This concept has totally changed me and my vision, allowing the beginning of my artistic path. At the beginning I confess that I copied a lot (like every artist in the formative stage!). I mainly copied all the contemporary artists that I liked the most, for example Laura Carlin and Scarabattolo. Then I slowly understood that it was necessary to have an understanding of how they influence me to confirm my style. I therefore realized how much the studies about history of art done during high school had influenced me and were continually reproposed resulting in an expressionist trait.
We are curious to know how your works come to life…. Tell us something about it! In the case of a commission, first of all I do a lot of research on the subject and I pin a few key words that will help me to elaborate the concept (as well as observing how other illustrators have approached the same subject). After writing down some ideas and the way I want to develop them, I start to make some quick sketches and 2 or 3 different compositions. Once I have chosen the one I think is the most effective I start to compose the image. When the sketch is ready, I print it and move on to drafting the color. This is my favorite and relaxing part, it comes naturally to me, in fact it is the one that I complete in the shortest time. If I take too long, I’ll probably ruin everything.
The tools I use are mainly watercolor and ecoline because I like the not so sharp effect and a bit out of control even if I always postproduce with photoshop to fix the excesses and clean up everything. I like to create strong color contrasts: to do this I use the black color that gives depth and strength to the illustration, I usually use it at the end, as the icing on the cake, and is the moment when I feel more satisfaction. I absolutely do not seek harmony or beauty in my drawing, but I try to be as spontaneous and immediate as possible, in fact it rarely happens that the second or third time I draw the same subject is better than the first one.
Your style is strongly recognizable, it has a very personal trait. Is it difficult to find your own creative identity? German expressionism and its frequent use of a multitude of colours influenced me a lot. Colors help me to express a concept, as well as in the “crowds” that I often have to illustrate. “io Donna” recently asked me to express feelings such as “generosity” and “envy” with my illustrations: here the color played a fundamental role. It is difficult to express a concept when you represent a mass of people, so the colors helped me to make it more dynamic and easy to understand, because yes, it’s not enough to be able to draw well, but it’s important that people understand what you’re doing. It has to be a universal language.
Color palette: do you have your own defined one or does it vary as needed? At the beginning, the palette was not at all something I was overly concerned with. The only rule I gave myself was to include black, grey and a couple of complementary colors, but I didn’t really follow this rule and I relied more on instinct. In the last two years, however, I’ve begun to study the palettes by making tests on a sheet of paper, associating primary colors with complementary and tertiary colors until I came up with a satisfactory result. I have to say that taking inspiration from other illustrators has helped me a lot.
Which subjects do you prefer for your works? I prefer drawing everyday life’s moments, things that have made me happy like large tables of people, banquets with family and friends, moments of friendliness in general. We can say I love to illustrate everything that inspires me: a book, a movie, a photo that I find … with a touch of magic and surrealism.
In addition to this, I confess that I am a fan of psychology, especially of concepts such as emotion, taboo: it is a challenge for me to represent them.