The Meraki Bird by Illustrator, Sophie Deller

The Meraki bird says everything we wanted it to as it soars through the sky. We love that a new, super talented young artist, Sophie Deller created our logo for us!

Sophie Deller manages to transport you to a whole new world full of quirky characters and mysterious figures.  Stars wearing stilettos, dark shadows full of promise and in a world of vivid colours she brings you into her world full of questions and curiosities. 

Scrolling through her Instagram is like falling down a rabbit hole – you never quite know what you are going to find next, as you come across her characters @oddlyblob and her collaborations with @nicepearceramics amongst her many funny and quirky creations.

We hope you love her work as much as we do, her illustrations are super popular with the kids and the adults alike so we were really grateful when she agreed to speak with us so we could find out a bit more about her and the inspiration behind her work.

Interview with Sophie Deller

MERAKI: We love our logo, you did such a fab job – we just gave you an outline of what Meraki Art School is about and you came up with the concept, talk us through how you came up with the idea and why you went with the bird in flight?

SOPHIE: The definition of ‘Meraki’ was a big influence on the logo design. ‘To do something with soul, creativity or love, to put something of yourself into what you are doing’. Having followed Chloe’s beautiful ceramic creations I decided to put her work at the forefront of the design, the bird comes from Chloe’s work, the bird in flight seen as a metaphor for moving on to new beginnings. I wanted the design to be simple yet bold, attractive for both children and adults whom will come to enjoy the classes at Meraki.

MERAKI: I’d love to live inside your head for a day, where do you think your ideas come from?

SOPHIE: Good question, ideas/ insights are funny things. If I am being honest I get most of my ideas when I am just mucking around, experimenting, browsing the web, out in the fresh air. I’ve noticed that I get inspired by colour a lot. Sometimes just noticing a particular colour can spark an idea for a new drawing. I’ve learnt to never force things and just be gentle with myself.

MERAKI: Your work has developed over the last few years when I started following your work we were fascinated by the character Oddly Blob, tell us about him – how did he appear and how has he evolved over the years?

SOPHIE: Blob! I love that he comes up in conversation. So, ‘Blob’ evolved in my last year of university – my tutor set us a months worth of tight editorial deadlines. Basically, in short I needed a character or ‘a face’ to use repeatedly, something I could morph to suit the brief. Blob was made. I call him ‘he’ but in reality there is no gender, ‘he’ is just a face, an ever changing – topic suiting face. After the editorial month I couldn’t let him go, since then I have continued to draw the little face over and over again. When I met my boyfriend later that year he started to edit Blobs face on top of paintings, historic photos, celebrities. I thought it was brilliant so we teamed up and created ‘Oddlyblob’ (found on Instagram: @oddlyblob) where we work together to de-face old masters, athletes, motivational speakers, actors – people who have inspired and continue to inspire, sounds a bit harsh that we replace their face with Blobs but it places more emphasis on their words and allows you to step into their world a little more.

MERAKI: Pattern and colour feature a lot now – It always make me think of Henri Matisse’s later works what is the process of selecting a colour palette for each piece.

SOPHIE: Yes, funnily enough I used to work solely in black and white – I guess I never felt brave enough to match colours together. Pretty much 180’d that one. I usually start with one colour and then using photoshop just literally cycle through different colours until I find something that looks right (to me anyway). The colour wheel is great too, I try to use complimentary colours a lot because they just work so well.

MERAKI: All of your characters are distinctly yours, their tiny eyes show so much personality – do you have a particular favourite one that keeps popping up and can we expect anything new from it in the future?

SOPHIE: I mean, OG Blob has to be my favourite (just the black and white, miserable looking kinda Blob). I then went through a phase of drawing another version of blob but with arms and legs, mostly in silhouette form – that was fun too and gave me new options because of the arms and legs! For sure more characters in the future, no huge plans but I am sure they will continue to make an appearance…

MERAKI: We noticed you are always exploring new mediums, pencils, printmaking, digital art, painting and more recently punch needle – how important do you think it is to keep pushing yourself to learn new things and what is your favourite way to work?

SOPHIE: I used to punish myself for working in so many different mediums, like c’mon Sophie – stick to something! In recent years I’ve come to understand that it’s just the way I work and learn. I get ideas for things in different mediums and then just go ahead with them. Art is constantly evolving, before university I had never drawn anything digitally, now most of my work is digital. It’s just a bit of a funny one really… I don’t not want to try things If I have an idea. I also don’t think I’ve come across a medium that I don’t like which is a reason they stick. I don’t know, I guess I just enjoy lots of things and have ideas for lots of things so why not branch out. Now that I have more of a noticeable style, when I do chip and change medium I can maintain my original self, so that’s pretty nice.

MERAKI: For as long as we’ve known you have made and loved art – why is art so important to you?

SOPHIE: Art is just a bit different to other subjects, I’m not sure how to explain it. My brain is wired to think more laterally than others and I think most creatives will say the same. We don’t like rules or rights and wrongs so art allows you to escape that, it has room for play where other subject don’t. What people often assume is that artists are stuck in their own little world, but in reality art is all about problem solving and problem solving is a skill that you need in day to day life so it is actually very important and something that Is continually in training.

MERAKI: What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

SOPHIE: Chill out, it’ll be fine.

Questions from the children

CHILDREN: What gets you out of bed in the morning?

SOPHIE: Lots of things, In general I am a very motivated person – If I set myself a new project or task I like to get it done. I always have bits and pieces to be working on so there is always a reason to get up and start the day early!

CHILDREN: Top 3 favourite artists?

SOPHIE: I don’t think I can pick three, here are 6 out of the hat: Henri Matisse, Tara Booth, Tove Jansson, Sara Hagale and David Shrigley.

CHILDREN: Top 3 pieces of art equipment you couldn’t live without.

Another one where there is definitely more than 3 again but I would say – Laptop, Wacom and pen. I’ve just blown the whole lot on one piece of equipment. (other bits would be scissors, punch needle and material/paper) I’m not good at this whole top 3 thing It seems.

This is not the last you’ve heard of Sophie Deller!

Follow Sophie Deller on her creative journey on Instagram: @sophiedeller

Thank you for our wonderful logo Sophie, we can’t wait to see where your art takes you next!

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