Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophy Tuttle.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Like most artists, I have loved drawing ever since I was a kid. I grew up splitting my time between playing outside in the woods and drawing plants and animals in my basement. After high school, I went to Rhode Island School of Design and majored in Illustration. This allowed me to work for 10 years drawing and painting for clients of all types. For a little while, I loved this work and enjoyed the diversity of the commissions. After a few years, though, I started to get burned out by the things I once loved about the job. I couldn’t count on a steady income and felt split between freelance work and finding a career where I could grow and do good.
In 2015, I decided to shift gears slightly and get some training in graphic design. I used this training to get a job at a non-profit where I thought I could work towards helping others instead of just creating advertising for capitalist enterprises. I enjoyed this job and worked at it for two years, but like most non-profits it was underfunded and ultimately a difficult place to work. I felt like although they had a good mission, it wasn’t one that I felt strongly about.
So, I shifted my practice once again. I enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Art MFA program at the University of Hartford, a radical approach to creating and sustaining regenerative culture through art. I am currently halfway through this program and it has really influenced how I approach not only art-making, but my interactions with the world around me. I feel excited to be able to use the skills that I have honed since I was a little kid drawing in my basement to create work that helps others process their present environment and reimagine the future of our world.
Please tell us about your art.
I make paintings, murals, and other public art that focuses on the beauty of the natural world and the different ways that humans impact it. I developed a deep empathy and connection as a kid to the plants, animals, and environment all around me and I see and feel a tremendous beauty that I want to preserve for future generations.
I hope my work will help others to reimagine their position in the web of life. The hierarchical view of nature that has pervaded scientific inquiry since the age of Aristotle has allowed humans to tell a story in which domination of the planet and all forms of life is the standard of achievement. I strive to retell that story so that we can be more egalitarian and regenerative in the decisions we make and the ideas we propagate. We face many challenges in the future due to the short-sighted decisions of the past, but I hope my work can inspire others to move forward in a more thoughtful, constructive, and hopeful way.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
I think it is different for every artist and it also differs across locations. Art is a very broad subject and we all have different intentions, specialties, and approaches. For instance, Boston is a very challenging place for public artists because the administrative red tape that blocks most projects from moving forward. But move just outside of the city, and you find places like Salem, Lynn, and Worcester ready to embrace artists and their ideas.
For me personally, I see being an artist as a great responsibility that comes with a real set of challenges. We have this magic power that people seem to really covet. Artists have the ability to create something out of nothing, or to conjure up the image of a loved one that can be revisited and remembered. I see us as contemporary cultural shamans. We can even use our abilities to heal, as art therapists and other culture workers do. We are challenged by society to tell the story of the fullness of time as almost no other profession is asked to do. So, for those of us concerned about the future, our greatest challenge right now is to help our communities stay resilient and vigilant against the things and ideas that threaten our ability to thrive in a regenerative culture.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work is always available for viewing and purchasing online at www.sophytuttle.com. Through my website, you can also email me for commissions. You can follow me on Instagram (@stillustration) and I have an Etsy store as well (www.etsy.com/shop/SophyTuttle).
I’ll be participating in a group show on July 25, 2018 at the RISD Illustration Gallery called Urban Wildlife: Learning to Coexist. The show will move to ArtProv Gallery in Providence in the fall.
I’ve painted murals in many locations in Massachusetts, including on Artist’s Row in Salem, on the YWCA in Worcester, along the Nashua River in Fitchburg, and in Fenway High School. I’ll also be live painting a wall at this year’s Beyond Walls in Lynn.
- Website: www.sophytuttle.com
- Instagram: @stillustration
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SophyTuttleArt/
Marion Stoddart mural image (long blue one with fish) by co-artist JS Allen.