Interview Sophie Bold Event & Exhibition Designer

It’s another day and another interviewee; It’s such an eye opener for me to continue this series of interviewees on Design Juices. I love every minute of the time people are willing to work with me, I learn so much just from listening to another creative mind. Last week it was Marcelo Milteer and also my own interview on the Cruecast. This week we are introducing you to a ‘Youth Volunteer of the Year 2011’ no less!

It’s a pleasure to introduce Sophie Bold to Design Juices readers and fans alike, she has been a wonderful person to talk to on twitter over the past few weeks and months. I can across Sophie’s work by chance I remember through another site, and quickly we have had a wonderful time talking to one another about design and the working situation in the UK for graduating students. I hope you warm to Sophie and her work as much as I have done.

Hi Sophie, It’s a great pleasure to interview you for our Design Juices readers. Can you first introduce yourself, and describe to us how you’re involved in the big wide world of design.

Hi Jared, thanks for asking me! Well as you’ve said my name is Sophie and I am based in Liverpool. I’m an event and exhibition designer, but love all aspects of 3d design from model making, CAD and prop making to the organizing and running of events and exhibitions. I volunteer as an event and exhibition coordinator for Halewood Arts Association (@halewoodarts) and also as 3D Design Volunteer for National Museums Liverpool. I was actually lucky enough to receive Youth Volunteer of the Year 2011 for my local borough in February for the work I have done in both of these roles. I mainly work freelance and volunteer but wouldn’t change it for the world.

What was your role through education, did you have a positive experience in your university and college teaching?

I loved every minute of college and University. I have always known I wanted a career in design and couldn’t wait to get to college to focus on this completely. My uncle is very creative and introduced me to a lot of creative things from a young age, when I was ten he arranged for me and my sister to visit the TV Set for Diggit and when I found that someone had been paid to design the set, it was from then I knew this was what I wanted to do. It’s down to him that I chose this career. In college I studied a BTEC National Diploma in 3D Design. This was a great starting point for me and it was here I was allowed to experiment within a number of design areas, such as product design, interior design and theatre design. For final major project I recreated Van Gogh’s Starry Night as a 3d installation and loved every second.

I then went on to study Theatre, Performance and Event Design at Birmingham City University and came away with a first in June. University has to be one of the best experiences I have ever had. I loved the course as we got to gain experience within a wide range of design areas and then specialise in whatever we chose when we got to third year. The course was very hands on and included working with real companies on live projects. We were asked to create tattoo sculptures for Download Festival and got a free staff ticket for it, something you can’t complain about as a second year student.

Throughout the course I discovered it was Theatre and Event design I was most passionate about. At the beginning of 3rd year the course gained a new tutor, Lara Furniss and when I saw her work within the Museum and Exhibition industry I felt really inspired and chose to focus on this for my final major project. For my final major project, I chose to design and create an exhibition that showed the journey an emigrant would take when they made the decision to leave Liverpool for Australia in the 19th Century. ( It was a great opportunity to show another side of Liverpool’s history and inform people there is a lot more to Liverpool than football and The Beatles. It made me feel very proud to tell the story of the emigrants who went through so much to make a better life for themselves.

I see that you are from Liverpool; would you describe the Liverpool design scene to be creative and a thriving community?

Liverpool is a great city to be living in at the moment. There is so much going on and luckily I have found a way to be a part of this. One of the main things I have found is that everyone within the creative community is very approachable and if you need help with something it’s very easy to get the advice and support you need. One of my favourite places in Liverpool at the moment is the Contemporary Urban Centre. There is always something interesting going on there and is a real hub of creativity (if that makes sense!) I have just finished working on a project there and it was a great excuse to spend more time there. If you are in Liverpool you should definitely give it a visit. I love it there.

I love that in Liverpool everyone seems to know everyone somehow and it’s a great city to network in and meet other people similar to you. It’s a great city for collaborating.

What have been your experiences in working as an 3D Design Volunteer for the National Museum in Liverpool? & how did you attain this role?

I have been volunteering within the design department of National Museums Liverpool since January. I was originally supposed to be there for 2 weeks, but each month have been asked to stay on longer, which can only be a good thing. For my final major project at University, NML allowed me to use the plans for the Merseyside maritime museum for my exhibition. When I completed my degree I got in touch with designer Simon Brooks to show him my work. Luckily they liked it and offered me a placement and like I have said I’ve been there since January. I have loved every minute of it. I have been able to work on a few projects, the main being living Apart by Ian Berry. A photography exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum. It was so surreal designing a real exhibition in the space I had used for my final major project. I worked alongside the other designers to design the layout of the exhibition and it was great learning the design process and working alongside the other departments. Meeting Ian Berry at the private view was great too and he complimented me on the layout and overall design which was amazing. The exhibition is open until November and has some amazing images of South Africa. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area (and that’s not me being biased!)

What role does social media play in your personal daily life and as a way to network and connect with other creative’s in a business and working sense?

I have been using twitter since October of last year and love it. I would recommend anyone in the creative industry use it as it is an amazing way to meet people similar to you and find ways of collaborating. I have gained a lot of work from twitter and find everyone on there so helpful and always on hand for advice. I have gained what can only be described as mentors from twitter and it’s great to know they take a genuine interest in my work and me. I am working on an event at the moment and as we have no budget everyone on twitter have been so helpful with trying to source props and offer advice to us. I’m a little addicted to twitter, but if it’s helping me to promote myself, meet new people and find work; surely it’s a good thing to be addicted to. (I’m kidding myself aren’t I?)

I also regularly blog too, I have done this since final year of University. Its a great way to keep contacts, family and friends up to date with what I’m doing and it’s a nice to read over them and remember what I’ve been up to.

What work are you currently undertaking and do you have any upcoming exciting creative projects?

I’ve been really busy recently; I worked down in London last week at the Real Food Festival in Earls Court with the amazing Kate of Gower Cottage Brownies. Working within a large scale exhibition like this is a great way to meet new people within the exhibition industry and working with Kate is always brilliant. Plus getting to style the stand is always good. I’m a little obsessed with cooking and anything to do with it, so working the food festivals is great. I’m doing BBC Good Food Show live again in June with Tim Kinnaird from last year’s Masterchef and can’t wait!

The most exciting thing I have been working on is Darkness in Light – The official Light Night Liverpool after party. I am working with the AMAZING Jen Monks and Laura Pye (@pye05). Laura studied the same course as me and Jen is an amazing makeup artist, costume maker and general crafter. We were asked to turn The Mezzanine within the Contemporary Urban Centre in Liverpool into a Jekyll and Hyde style laboratory. It is so much fun working with Jen and Laura, especially exploring all of the hidden gems in Liverpool; we have discovered so many amazing antique warehouses, shops and lovely people who are willing to help out. Our lives revolve around brains, eyeballs and poison bottles at the minute but its brilliant fun, plus the venue is so good and being given free reign of it was pretty amazing.

What is your role at Halewood Arts Association, How much of your time does this take? How long have you been in this role?

I have been volunteering within Halewood Arts Association since June 2010. As soon as I left University I wanted to make sure that even if I couldn’t find paid work I was making the most of my time. I volunteer two full days a week, this includes a role as Event and Exhibition Coordinator. My role consists of applying for funding, planning exhibitions, events and any administration that comes up. I also volunteer on a Wednesday afternoon as a workshop assistant for HAA, teaching art to the Junior Artists Club. I have an amazing mentor here, Carole Trenaman. Carole is also a volunteer and she has been so supportive of me since June and taught me so much. What she has taught me has been amazing and really made the volunteering worth it.

How did it come about to recognized for the Youth Volunteer of the year 2011? Congratulations on this great achievement!

Carole nominated me for the award and I couldn’t believe it when I found out. Since June I have done 600+ voluntary hours and being recognised for this was wonderful. I love volunteering and think the skills you learn and the difference you can make whilst doing this make the lack of pay worth it.

Sophie Claims her prize as Volunteer of the Year 2011

Working for the download festival sounds like a great project to undertake, how was this project? What was the process of this project with the clients and putting the sculptures together?

Working for Download was hard work but brilliant. The opportunity came about through University, but as it was an unmarked project we had to complete the work in our own time, alongside our University work. I worked alongside Amy Cox (@amycox) on the Sculpture and all the hard work was definitely worth it. Live Nation ask our University course to create the sculptures each year and for our class we were asked to take a tattoo from the Download 2009 branding and make it 3d to adorn the campsite. It’s one of the pieces of work I’m most proud of and it was great to work alongside the very talented Amy Cox.

Tell us more about the Darkness in Light After Party. What was this all about?

Light Night is an event that took place all over the UK. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, a city takes part and various venues throughout that city are encouraged to hold events at night, allowing the public to see their city at night time. I have worked with Chris Carney, Creative Events Manager at CUC before and when he approached with the idea to hold a Jekyll and Hyde themed (Light Night was on Friday the 13th) after party for Light Night, it was impossible to say no. I needed some extra help with the styling as it was a lot to do alone and got Jen and Laura on board. Working with the girls and with the CUC has been brilliant, we had a very limited budget so had to come up with some very cheap, creative ways of doing things but it was great fun and we’re really looking forward to working together more in the future. The night itself was amazing, there were a lot of really talented performers, it was really busy and everyone seemed to love the event styling.

Do you Jen and Laura have future projects lined up? How would people get in touch with you all if they were interested to work with you all?

Since we worked so well together at Darkness in Light, it has lead to me, Laura and Jen to form our own design company, inspired by the Jekyll and Hyde event. We are now Strange Case Collective. Between the three of us we can do so much within design, from event styling and design, to prop, model making, make up, costume and computer aided design. If anyone is interested in working with us, they can follow us on twitter @strangecasec, look up our blog or drop us an email … We are currently in the process of planning what we’d like to do next so if anyone would like to collaborate they should definitely get in touch. You can also see a full album of images from the Darkness in Light party at our Flickr page

What things do you to switch off outside of work? Can a designer truly ever turn off their creative mind?

I find it really hard to switch off outside of work, especially as I always seem to be doing so much. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. I love that my life revolves around the work I do, I wouldn’t work within this industry if I didn’t love it so I’m fine with it taking over my life. To switch off though, I do the usual, go out with friends, watch trashy TV and actually I crochet quite a bit!

We must thank Sophie for her time talking about her life and work in design today; don’t forget to follow her on twitter @sophiescouse. You can also see her portfolio of work on Behance and check out her website.

To keep tabs of her Strange Case Collective you can find them on twitter @strangecasec and on their Stange Case Blogspot page.

Don’t forget to keep the conversation going in our comments section, we would love to hear any thoughts and opinions on our latest interviewee. Maybe you have ideas of possible future interviewees?