London-born, Brighton illustration-educated Sophie Alda may only be a couple of years out of art college, but her distinctively heavy-browed illustrated figues have seen her receive commissions from as far afield as China, Iran, Portland and, yes, Birmingham.
Alda, the most recent signing to the No Way creative agency, creates vignettes starring endearingly distorted figures set against rigorously detailed buildings and scenery.
When Design Week meets Alda, she explains how architecture frequently informs her work, as shown in the rigid lines of the infrastructure in her images, such as the sharply delineated buildings in Heavy – a marked contract to the surreal characters of the foreground.
Working almost exclusively in gouache, she describes her idiosyncratic colour palette as ‘unsettling holiday colour’ – muted reds, blues and yellows – creating the feel of a faded photograph or postcard.
‘I’m interested in religion and traditions – interesting things come from the way people come together as a community’, she says. ‘Particularly the creation myth.’
Back in August, Alda found herself pairing up with painter Matthew Swan who got in touch through her website. Despite her initial concerns of the potential for awkwardness, having only met online, they immediately hit it off and soon got busy collaborating on a the brilliantly titled Boondocks show in Swan’s Superclub gallery in Edinburgh.
Now, the two are working together on another brilliantly titled show, Retrospectastic, which is opening in York College next week. Like Boondocks, the exhibition will present work from the Clusterbomb collective, a group of tutors and alumni from Edinburgh College of Art, and promises to ‘explode conservative image making in favour of the aesthetics of Maximalism.’
Swan and Alda will be working together to create work that combines their ‘frenetic styles to create weird non-narratives’, according to Alda.
Retrospectastic runs from 5 November – 1 December in the first floor exhibition area of York College, Sim Balk Lane, York YO23