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Monday, June 24, 2024

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Interview: MINI SYRUP – SOPHY, In Conversation with Ali Raphael

Hey guys! I ended up meeting this amazing artist, Mini Syrup, at Emerald City Comic Con and thought you all might want to get to know her and her art. Not just being an incredible artist, Sophy is also incredibly kind enough to give us an interview! 

  1. Ali: What got you into art? Especially fandom art?

Sophy: I was exposed to art at a very young age! My dad is an oil painter and influenced my younger years quite a bit. From there I wanted to do something with game art and illustration, but I would say I took more ownership of it when I entered my college for art. Despite wanting to do concept work, I went to school primarily for sculpture/ mixed media/ contemporary, but I deviated on my own time to digital illustration. It wasn’t until after my first con, I made it a priority to focus on building a better and better portfolio for cons.

  1. A: How did you get started in selling your art and doing convention booths?

S: I was introduced formally in 2017 when my friend needed a last minute booth-mate for Fanime that year! I had always thought it would be an exciting opportunity to table at cons but I don’t really recall being proactive about learning about it. Fanime 2017 really opened my eyes to a new world of possibilities and immediately I was hooked. I would attend local cons within California primarily to sell since then!

  1. A: What are some of your favorite fandoms to draw?

S: I adore drawing anything related to D&D and fantasy themes! For a specific fandom I would definitely say Critical Role at the moment.

  1. A: Are there any art mediums that you want to try in the future with your fanart? Which and why?

S: I actually have been currently dabbling in gouache paintings as of lately which has been an absolute dream! BUT, I would absolutely adore doing some large scale oil paintings! Despite being majorly exposed to oil painting at a young age you’d think that painting would be my focus and a constant in my life, but I didn’t get hooked until my last semester in college when I took my first oil painting class and immediately gravitated and excelled in it. I have some fun D&D related oil painting pieces that I have my heart set on attempting when I manage to get some extra time in the future~

S: Additionally screen printing! If I could have the studio for it, that would be something I would absorb myself into again. I was obsessed with it back in college and spent as many hours in the studio as I could!

  1. A: Are there any fandoms you want to do art/prints/products for? 

S: Yes!! Plenty! Of course lots of D&D/ Critical Role, but also Witcher, Lord of the Rings, and various anime that pique my interest! And while it’s not necessarily “fandom” related, I have taken a major liking to doing more original work!

  1. A: How do you start doing fanart for a certain series? Is it by getting requested by fans or you yourself get into a fandom and make art for it?

S: A little bit of it is listening to fan response and looking into various series that are recommended to me; I’ll take the time to watch/ play a series to really understand what I’m drawing! Of course a lot of what I make is from series I personally love and are interested in! That being said, sometimes you do have to focus on “fan flavor” (majorly popular series that gain loads of attention) and create work encompassing it in order to help pay bills so you can afford to keep doing what you love to do! That’s just part of running a business!

  1. A: What’s some advice you can give to artists who want to start their own business and sell their art?

S: Definitely experiment with your work, join group orders, try out local cons or small cons to get a feel for things, and make things that you would like to see in the world! Make things that are popular for sure, but focusing on some niche things that make you happy is where you will get true excitement and comradery from! It is the most fun experience for someone to notice that one product from an old movie or show you adore and to just gush over how much it means to you!! Additionally, sharing some of your original art is always fun and I recommend it if it’s something you’d like to focus on in the future! Much of my original art does very well and people tend to be akin to it BECAUSE it’s not tied to a specific series!

  1. A: Are there any fandoms you might/or are working on doing more for the fandom in the future? (more fun buttons for The Witcher perhaps ?)

S: Yes! Definitely more Witcher and some Lord of the Rings! I actually just finished a big Witcher print and I’m thinking of another! I have lots of original content and Critical Role coming soon as well~ 

  1. A: I noticed at ECCC that you had a lot of art for anime fandoms (I remember wanting them all!), would you say that’s one of your favorite fandoms to draw inspiration from?

S: I do love anime as it’s been a huge pillar in my life! There is definitely a level of inspiration but my focus has for sure shifted to more fantasy themes now! That being said I have loads of fun being able to think of each of the characters when drawing them and figuring out their “anime archetype” when drawing haha

  1. A: Do you ever get artist block? How do you get through it?

S: Artist block not so much these last couple years but DEFINITELY burn out!!! Take breaks y’all!! BUT, if you do get artist block I really recommend experimenting with drawing things that intimidate you! Usually an art block is when you start to plateau within your skills (at least in my experience); try challenging yourself with things you have always been too scared to draw, do some studies, or even try out a completely new medium! I usually have a list of things that I plan to draw, so if you have an idea, write it down so you can come back to it in the future!

  1. A: How do you choose what types of products to make your art into? Also, how do you choose which art to make into products to sell?

S: I usually try to be mindful about market interests! Charms and stickers are always popular because they are so transportable and you can embellish your belongings with them! Prints, from what I have noticed recently, have made a new resurgence. In the earlier years of Artist Alley, prints were the hottest commodity because they were one of the easiest and most obvious products to make! But people only have so much wall space so I noticed they started to lull in sales. That being said, they are some of my biggest sellers now, possibly due to interest by new fans! Honestly I make what I want to see or just PERSONALLY like to have in my daily life!

When it comes to “picking” art, it really depends on if the art would be able to translate well! Normally a charm design doesn’t always translate the best into other products like prints or apparel for example! For me specifically, most of the time it’s the intent to create art based on a specific kind of product I’m interested in. But sometimes I create a series of products (like charms) based on a series I’m into and the amount of characters that are in them! So it can really go either way, I think mindfulness of design with addition of a desire to have a specific product moves me the most!

A: Lastly, where can people find you online to check out and buy some of your amazing art?

S: You can find me at:

Instagram: @minisyrup 

Twitter: @minisyruppp

TikTok: @minisyrup

Store: www.minisyrup.shop

Thanks for your time Sophy!

We’re always looking for new writers that are truly passionate about stuff – we give you the review materials, the platform and the support to say what you feel from the heart. If you’d like to write opinion pieces about pop culture topics or reviews, reach out to us using the contact us form.

Ali Raphael
Ali Raphael
Ali is a professional workaholic but likes to add more to her plate by reviewing comics/books/ tv shows/movies and anime. In every other waking moment, she breathes books, manga and anything Marvel. Every day she wishes she was a Part-Time Avenger, instead of a full-time Target employee.

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