The Papersmith Series - Sophy Hollington

The Papersmith Series - Sophy Hollington

Sophy Hollington first came into our awareness in 2016 when we heard her speaking at the Printed Pages Tour in Bristol. We've followed her work ever since and this Christmas we had the pleasure of inviting Sophy to create a design for our Christmas windows. We quizzed Sophy on work life, how she got to where she is today and her creative process.

Hi Sophy! Can you share with us a bit about the symbolism in the image you’ve created? What’s it all about?

[SOPHY] It’s a symbol of human creativity and what we’re capable of when we have the right tools at our disposal.  The design is loosely based on ‘The Hand of Sabazios’ which is a Greek/Roman Pagan talisman dedicated to the sky and horse God Sabazios.

How did your Autonomic Tarot project come about? Are you interested in tarot? What’s it about for you?

[SOPHY] I’d been messing around with tarot iconography for a few months when Nina from Rough Trade Books got in touch asking if I wanted to make a whole deck in collaboration with the writer David Keenan. I’m not passionate about spiritualism in the very traditional sense that often encompasses tarot, but I’m fascinated with the power of imagery to inspire real emotions and actions in people. When creating the deck, I felt deeply connected to the archetypes I was depicting and there was some kind of ancient, numinous visual language that I suddenly realised has always been there and that we all recognise but can’t necessarily articulate. 

Where do you work? Do you have a studio space in Brighton? Or a print studio you’re part of? Is there a quiet place you go for solitude or do you work best in more sociable places?

I share a studio space with a bunch of other creative types just around the corner from your Brighton store! I print all my work with a wooden spoon at my desk. Sometimes when I need zero distractions I’ll go home to work, but generally speaking I like absorbing the quietly industrious atmosphere we have here.

Do you have a work ritual? Are there particular sound, smell, temperature, comfort, light, visual requirements to getting to work?

[SOPHY] A tidy desk, a coffee, a sleeping dog (instead of one that’s ramming toys in to my legs) and a good room temperature all help.

Broadly, where does inspiration come from?

[SOPHY] From as broad a spectrum as possible. All times and all places.

How do you ease through creative block?

It helps to break the mental loop by going for a walk and clearing my head, or by pulling all of my books out of the shelf and flicking through them indiscriminately.

Can you talk us through your process of creation in five steps?


  • Sit and think/research
  • Sketch design on iPad
  • Print design out and transfer to lino using carbon paper
  • Carve design from lino, ink up and print
  • Scan finished lino print in, and add any colour digitally

What five steps did you take to get to where you are today?


  • Draw always
  • Illustration degree at Camberwell
  • Graduate and spend a good 5 years not knowing what to do with myself until I finally arrive at lino being my focus
  • Get to the point where I’m channeling my self and my interests in to my work succesfully, and make it to being completely freelance (just over two years ago)
  • Move to Brighton from London and find a studio space where I commit to keeping office hours to maintain momentum. Also get a puppy, to completely mess up those office hours. 

What are your favourite spots in Brighton?

[SOPHY] The beach on one side and the downs on the other

Tell us about your band Novella. Where can we listen to you? Do you gig? Have you always played guitar? Do you play anything else?

[SOPHY] We haven’t played for a couple of years now, but we released two albums and a bunch of singles and EPs since we started - in 2010 (!). I find it tricky to fit music around my work these days but still pick up the guitar and noodle around for fun. 

What’s in your toolkit?

[SOPHY] Lino cutting tools (Pfeil), lino, carbon paper, pencils, iPad and Apple Pencil, ink, palette knife, glass plate, roller, metal ruler, rubber, masking tape.

What would you like to see more of in the world?

[SOPHY]  Dogs



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