ICON recently printed a new series of t shirts for London-based illustrator Sophie Alda.

Using DTG printing onto plain white SOL’S shirts, we produced a limited edition run of tees featuring one of Sophie’s colourful compositions. We caught up with Sophie to hear how the design came together and find out more about her multidisciplinary practice.


Q. Tell us about your t shirt design.

A. It’s a silly study of time and light. 

Q. Why did you decide to become an illustrator?

A. My favourite things to do as a kid were reading and drawing, so it seemed like the best thing get into. I had a lot of sci-fi books and really liked the super slick covers on them. I used to email the illustrators to ask if they’d contribute to my school projects, but they’d rarely write back.

Q. Where do you look for inspiration?

A. The black hole of the Internet and all the books I’ve bought but never got around to reading.

Q. How do you go about making your images? 

A. Recently I’ve been making a lot of quick line drawings in charcoal and more structured coloured gouache paintings, layering them up digitally until something clicks and the image looks right. That’s how I came up with the design for my shirt. In contrast, my editorial pieces will be planned in sketch form first, which results in less of a ‘bingo!’ moment.


Sophie Alda Feature and Slowcoaches tour poster

Above: Promotional poster for Slowcoaches and Feature’s recent UK tour


Q. In addition to your illustration and print-based work, you also work with ceramics and other materials. What do you enjoy most about working in the third dimension?

A. Turning something as generic and useless as a bit of mud or wood into something functional. I went to my first pottery club in a dusty room at the city farm near me last winter and became immediately obsessed. I spend pretty much all my spare time covered in clay. I was running out of space to keep my pot piles, but I recently sold the lot to Timberland Boots for a window display, so now I’ve got an excuse to make even more.

Sophie Alda ceramics

Above: A selection of Sophie’s ceramic bowls


Q. Of all the projects you’ve worked on, which has been your favourite?

A. Ah, there have been so many! I recently got to turn a gallery into a jungle for a show curated by Belly Kids. That was cool. But it’s hard to pick faves.


Sophie Alda leaves and plants

Above: Something green from Sophie’s portfolio 


Q. What have you currently got in the pipeline?

A. I’m starting a new print project, which involves making products with fabrics designed by illustrators and emerging pattern designers, plus I’m just starting on a monograph. Also, today I made a 5 metre long snake! So that was awesome.

Q. What would be your dream project?

A. To buy a house with lots of extra room on a mountain (or a loch) that comes kitted out with lots equipment, a kiln and a print room and run it as a residency programme. That way I won’t get lonely. I’ve spending a lot of time looking at churches on the Scottish isles recently.