We had the good fortune of connecting with Sophie McTear and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sophie, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I’m constantly having to remind myself to slow down. That’s always been a theme in my life. It might be that I’m an Aries, or maybe because I’m the first born, but I have the tendency to think that I need to be doing everything, all at once, and be the best at it. But sometimes that’s just not realistic. So lately I’ve been focused on giving myself intentional breaks to focus on letting my brain and body rest and heal from the inevitability of working myself hard during the week. It turns out that working seven days a week every day is not sustainable! This is the first time I’ve ever been 100% a freelancer, with no other source of income, and I was sort of forced into it because of the pandemic. I am honestly so grateful though, because I think if I hadn’t been under these circumstances I would have been balancing multiple day jobs and freelance for a long time. It feels nice to be fully invested in my career, and to be my own boss. In the same way though that I’ve had to let my past employers tell me it’s okay to take a break, I’m having to tell myself that as well. When I give myself the time to rest and relax, I find that I am most capable of producing creative, fun, and important work. When I allow myself time to heal, I don’t further any wrist injuries I’ve already started because of drawing overload. And when I give myself free time, I’m able to explore other creative mediums like film, books, video games, and more that only help to fuel my illustration practice.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a digital illustrator and graphic designer. I love drawing people of all different backgrounds. I aim to have representation for all different types of people in my designs. I love working with other creatives. and am passionate about LGBTQ+ rights and activism, racial justice, music, and so much more. I’m non-binary and queer, so creating art for me is often an expression of my own personal beliefs, frustrations, vulnerability, and power. I’ve been working in some capacity as an artist since graduating high school (about 8 years now) but only since the pandemic have I been a full-time freelance illustrator and designer. Getting to this point wasn’t exactly linear, but I’m happy with where I am and with my continual forward trajectory. I think that what’s set my business apart is my genuine desire to connect with other queer people, to express myself honestly even in difficult situations, and the ability to tie everything together with a bit of humor. My style is bright and punchy, even when I’m talking about something sad or dark, I hope I can find some sort of silver lining.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ooh this is fun, especially since I haven’t been able to go out and do much of anything! Here are my dream spots to visit, in a hopefully near-future without COVID in the picture… Food: -Tania’s 33: Best vegan burritos in town. There are so many options and everything is wildly affordable. -Tallboy’s: They’re back, baby! Nothing beats their tots and a tallboy after a long day. -Zayna Mediterranean: I can’t explain how good the hummus is. And the little pickles. Dang. -TOSS Chicken and Ramen: My partner gets a chicken sandwich and I get the vegan ramen. Win win. -Eegee’s: If you’re from out of town you’ve probably never heard of Eegee’s and that’s a shame. Hopefully you visit in July (because that’s watermelon month… and 10/10 Sophie’s agree watermelon is the best month). Drinks: -Che’s Lounge: Best Michelada in town. Then some food truck goodness from Geronimo’s Revenge. -Owl’s Club: Moody, former funeral home turned broody, current cocktail bar. I miss it there. -Tap and Bottle: So many beer options. There’s a whole fridge dedicated to sours! Scenery/Nature: -Gates Pass: sunset views… *chefs kiss* -Mount Lemmon -Agua Caliente Park -Day trip options include: Bisbee, Nogales, Phoenix, and so much more Shopping: -Pop Cycle: An incredible selection of handmade goods curated by the coolest group of women in town. These people care about Tucson and care about the artists that live here. -The Ninth House: Need to check something off your witch list? Look no further. -Bookmans: Bookmans are an amazing Arizonan experience. I wish every state had Bookmans. -Antigone Books: Woman owned, and curated with real people in mind. Catch me in the LGBTQ+ section.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate and shout out Groundworks Tucson, a music and arts nonprofit that I help run as marketing director. My partner, Logan Greene, is the mastermind behind Groundworks and is truly an inspiration to me. I work from home every day, and sometimes can barely find the motivation to do that. Logan goes to Groundworks every day to keep working to make the venue, gallery, and education space something accessible for young people all over the city. Opening a nonprofit in March of 2020 couldn’t have been worse timing, but we’ve been able to weather the storm. As they say, “the show must go on.”