Designer Spotlight: Sophie Dufresne

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

My name is Sophie Dufresne, I am an illustrator and surface pattern designer operating under the name Sophiequi. Originally from Montreal, I live in Los Angeles and find a lot of inspiration in Southern California’s incredible vegetation.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

Up until a few years ago I didn’t even know it was a profession, but looking back I can see there were early signs of interest in it when decorating ceramic pots or sewing pillows and curtains. And I could get lost for hours in fabric stores looking at patterns. At that time I did very different things in my career since I studied engineering, but computers and programming brought me to design and eventually I discovered I could merge my experience in design and love of art by doing illustration. The introduction to surface pattern design happened with my first MATS class 3 years ago.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

I start each day by doing a few minutes of pilates with a Youtube video and then I eat my breakfast while watching late night comedy clips, because I find daily laughter is just as important as exercise. Then after a short walk and shower I spend most of the day in my office. Every week I make a todo list and try to balance business and creative tasks. Because the best time to reach art directors and potential clients is early in the week that’s when I research companies and email samples of my work. After that I can dedicate more time to working on assignments and creating new work. I’m still trying to work out a good schedule and strategy for social media but it usually happens whenever I have time, on a lunch break or late at night. When there’s a class going on I also spend time engaging with the facebook group, which is a great place to be inspired and exchange tips.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

To start working on goals sooner and make little steps now instead of waiting for the perfect time to get going. Ten years ago making art for a living was a distant dream and I can be proud of how far I’ve come since then, but I waited until I had all the elements in place to get serious and then expected everything to happen at once. Learning to be patient and progress steadily towards my goals has been a big lesson for me.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

It depends where I am in the process when it happens. If I get stuck in the middle of a project then usually taking a walk outside, or some other kind of break or activity will help me approach the design from a new angle when I come back to it. If I’m in an inspiration rut then looking at a lot of images from a variety of sources or reading books will help spark new connections and ideas. Sometimes also the block can come from having too much expectations of what the work should be. In that case I trick myself to get started by pretending I’ll just do a silly sketch for 2 minutes, that I won’t keep or show anyone, and often I’ll continue developing way beyond that 2 minutes and end up with something usable.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Photoshop, occasionally Illustrator, iPad Pro and Pencil, ink, gouache, and watercolor.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? 

For illustrations I usually start with a sketch. It can be very rough, as long as it’s enough to establish the idea. Then I’ll brainstorm colors digitally either in Photoshop or Procreate. 4 Sometimes I finish the whole drawing digitally but often I’ll paint elements by hand and scan them in to get natural textures. With patterns it’s a more organic process. I’ll start by painting directly a bunch of elements often without even a sketch or a set plan as to how they’ll come together. Then I’ll scan, clean up, adjust colors and design the pattern all in Photoshop. My favorite app to work with Photoshop on the iPad is Astropad. And although I don’t work in Illustrator as often as in Photoshop I do like to use it sometimes for patterns because the pattern tool and ability to change colors with one click are pretty fantastic.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

One is a boxed notes projects I did with Papyrus, which just came out in stores ( https:// www.papyrusonline.com/graphic-pineapple-boxed-thank-you-notes-set-of-14 ). It was so exciting to receive the samples this week! I had done the original sketch for this pineapple in my first MATS class but never used it then colored it over a year later in another class for a mini exercise. I never thought it would turn into a license project!

Another fun project I did was toddler t-shirt designs for a children boutique in my neighborhood. Originally it was just the mermaid design (https://entertainingelephants.com/ collections/tops/products/mermaid-tee-1) and then a year later we added a narwhal (https:// entertainingelephants.com/collections/tops/products/octopus-crop-tee) and an octopus design to the collection (https://entertainingelephants.com/collections/tops/products/octopus-lap-tee). The shirts were screen printed locally and it was a great experience to learn how to prepare files for the screens. The designs were done in Illustrator.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

In the stationary/publishing market there are many companies I would just love to work with: TeNeues, Chronicle Books, Paperchase, Red Cap Cards, and Studio Oh! to name a few. Illustrating for magazines like Flow, Real Simple, The Simple Things, and Frankie would be pretty great too. I would also enjoy designing home product like dishes or a bedding set, and things to wear like bags and shirts, and of course it would be a dream to do that with Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie. In the meantime, there is always the option to start with print on demand sites.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

I could say my iPad Pro, Pencil, and power supply, but that would be cheating because with that I could simulate any materials ;). So I choose gouache, brushes, and good quality paper.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Pinterest, Google images, books, walks around the neighborhood are all good source for reference materials. To come up with ideas sometimes I start by reading on a subject or browsing the web for some words and seeing where it takes me. Or I can start with a prompt and then add related elements as I go. Lately I’ve been experimenting with blindly making a few marks on paper and then making a drawing out of it by letting my pen do the thinking.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

The greatest designer to have lived is probably Nature itself! But jokes aside I have liked Marimekko’s designs since I was a kid, and love that she creates also clothing and accessories. In the same vein of colorful graphic style Alexander Girard is also pretty great, I love his wooden characters. 

WHEN I'M LONG GONE:

I hope people remember me as someone they liked being around and for pushing the boundaries in whatever I tried to do.

Where you can find me:

website: www.sophiequi.com

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sophiequi/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/likesophiequi/

twitter: https://twitter.com/sophiequi

pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sophiequi/