So Meow is the creative work of Sonia Roy , a local Montreal-based illustrator who does not seem to realize just how talented she really is. Cats seem to be everywhere on the internet these days, but her illustrations really stand out for her originality and modern-take on the furry creatures.
Every time I look at one of her illustrations, a big smile comes over my face. There’s something about the way the cats are positioned, the colours and the otherworldly backgrounds that I just find so charming. It’s creativity at it’s best. Sonia was kind enough to let us know more about her illustrations, herself and those cats!
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in the Montreal area.
What is your professional background?
My schooling and professional background were not a direct path to my career today. I studied film, photography, digital arts and design. After that I worked for more than ten years as a web designer.
I shifted to illustration almost by accident. While I was an art director, I was doing photographic collages on my lunch break. I sent my images to two Montreal based agencies and Colagene offered to represent me as an illustrator. That was the catalyst for my career as an illustrator and the driver for my own personal artistic style.
Why did you start So Meow?
As a commissioned illustrator, I have to respect the briefs I receive. Last summer, I created two illustrations (including The Brothers – see above) for a pitch for Illustration Quebec, my professional association. I was not selected, but I had so much fun doing those images that I decided to continue with the project.
In October, after some anthropomorphism cat illustrations and a very positive response on Facebook, I decided to take the project one step further and create the brand So Meow.
With So Meow, I have complete freedom to create whatever I want and do whatever I want with it. I can choose to place my work on objects such as iPhone cases or I can share it for artistic projects (like this one – here and here.)
I feel that my images are brought to life and I can control my work from A to Z. This ultimate control pushes me to work harder.
Because I LOVE cats! They are so cute and funny. I adore them so much that even my earliest memory is related to a cat.
Miso and Lily, my two cats, are my inspiration for this project. I wish I could have more but my husband isn’t on board. This project is a way for me to have a life filled with cats.
Where do you draw your influences?
I draw mostly from the Victorian era and definitely pre-World War II. I always found the old photographic process very attractive and the pictures from this period so poetic. I particularly like the grainy quality of photography at its very beginnings.
What’s it like being an entrepreneur?
Because my path in life has not always been straight and obvious, I have often experienced the impostor syndrome. I have never really worked directly in the fields I studied. I have a Diploma in Photography but I never earned a living as photographer. I worked for more than a decade as a web designer and web art director without any education in this field. In contrast, all of my colleagues had a degree in design. Currently, I am an illustrator but a couple years ago, I would never have imagined it. There was nothing to predict that life as an illustrator would be in my future.
Because I am usually self-taught, I feel like an outsider and that’s why I feel like an impostor. I’m always learning on the job. But from another perspective, maybe it helps me to have a fresh look on things. I don’t know…
I think this insecurity drives me to work much harder. I do a lot of research on every project whether it is for editorial illustration or for launching my business. I like to learn and I prefer when things are done properly. I believe my projects are getting better and better because of this drive.
Are there any big misconceptions about being an entrepreneur?
I think the biggest misconception is that you need to have a lot of money to start a business. In reality, you can start a business with only a few dollars. You just need to be good at what you’re doing, be passionate and focus on your goals. I had never been an entrepreneur, but I have experience in web design, photography, branding, illustrations and I sat on a few boards. I also used to work independently as an illustrator for many years. All these experiences collectively helped to launch my company. They helped me build a strong brand and are all additional strings to my bow. Being an entrepreneur is a question of mindset I think.
What is your long-term vision for So Meow?
So Meow is at its very beginning right now, but I have big goals for it. I like it so much that I hope to be able to push it very far. One word to say about my long-term goals is Japan.
Last weekend, a customer told me an interesting tidbit. As if he was reading my mind, he said that I should go to Japan with my cats. Meow in Japanese is Nyā. So when you pronounce So Meow in Japanese, it sound just like my first name, Sonia. It’s a sign isn’t it?
Do you have any tips for other artists who are thinking about launching their career?
Do it! Don’t wait around. And you have to believe in yourself. If you really want something, you can achieve it.
Prints and products are available in her shop online or at Coccinelle Jaune (4236 rue Sainte-Catherine Est – H1V 1X3 – Montréal)
Thank-you to Sonia for answering all my nosy questions.
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