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Sophie Fois creates hyper-realistic animal art from Turville Studios in Oxfordshire. She tells us how building a loyal social media following and working among like-minded artists has rocketed her artistic career both in the UK and beyond.

Tell us a little about your work and your background

I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a First-Class Honours in Decorative Arts in 2015, following an art foundation at Oxford Brookes. Ever since, I have been a full-time artist in the beautiful village of Turville, specialising in creating animal art in both realistic and contemporary styles.

I am known predominantly for my pastel pencil realism for which I am commissioned both in the UK and Internationally. I feel fortunate that my art inspires others and also makes people smile! I am hugely grateful for my followers’ support. It reminds me how incredibly lucky I am able to do this for a living.

What made you decide to start your creative business

I always had the passion to have a creative career once I left my studies, so it was great that as part of my degree we were instructed to create a business plan consisting of a brand, social media and website.

I began taking on commissions alongside my studies, so after graduating I had the drive to expand what I had started, working as a sole trader artist. I began to publicise my work more to target myself both in the UK and Internationally.

Tell us about what it's like to work at Turville Studios

As a full-time artist, I am now fortunate enough to work from my own studio, one of six studios that my parents converted from a barn three years ago. This means I have like-minded people around me, which is so important as being an artist can be a very solitary profession.

It is not only my workspace but also my ever-evolving gallery. We allow visitors, as it is a great way to exhibit our personal work, and people come in to discuss current and future work. The studios have become an interesting destination for visitors alongside being highly inspiring for each of us artists.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration in animals, particularly those with interesting characteristics or expressive movements. Being brought up around horses all my life, they have become a large part of my portfolio. I enjoy experimenting with mediums and colour, as well as striving for realism in my pastel work.

Describe your typical working day

So I am certainly a morning person! Around 6.30am I hit the ground running, usually starting the day with some life admin and a daily ‘to do list’. After taking my dog out for his walk, my day consists of drawing, packaging, meeting clients or travelling to the framers. Each day is different, but I aim to do an average of 3-4 hours of drawing time a day. I usually finish around 4.30 and leave it until the evening to post any social media, which I do 2-3 times a week.

What has been the biggest highlight and biggest challenge to date?

My biggest highlight: being lucky enough to have such a positive and supportive following on my social media. Without them I would not have the reputation and demand in work, which has been such a driving force of my business.

My biggest challenge has been tackling the work/life balance and knowing how to navigate being my own boss. Putting my mental health first and sometimes stepping away from the studio has been a challenge in the past!

Best nugget of wisdom you can share with your fellow Creative Ducks?

Be yourself and remember things take time. It is easy to compare what other creatives are doing especially on social media and feel disheartened that success is hard to obtain. Being authentic and confident in your brand and creative intentions will help you connect with your audience and stand out.

Where can we find out more?

You can see more of my work on my website and regular updates on my social media.

Turville Studio Open days are on the first Sundays of the month:

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