How an Illustrator Travels Through Her Paintbrush

While on hiatus from physical travel, British illustrator Miranda Sofroniou, whose work appears in everything from travel guides to greeting cards, is vacationing through her paintbrushes and pencils. We called her at home in Melbourne to chat about her process and discover the stories behind five of her favourite travel illustrations.

enRoute How do you describe your illustration style?
 

Miranda Sofroniou Nature is my main source of inspiration. I do my painting and drawing by hand using watercolour, gouache and white acrylic paint. I mix them together, then add pencil drawing on top. It’s quite experimental and I never know exactly what effect I’m going to get. When you do something by hand, you can make mistakes, but those mistakes can work out unexpectedly well. I like the imperfections.
 

ER On Instagram you posted that you will be creating new work inspired by past trips you have taken. Why do you want to share these moments right now?
 

MS Everyone is probably feeling frustrated at the moment because their plans have changed; we are all being affected by what is happening. Next week I was meant to go back home to the U.K., as well as to Langhe, Italy, near where my partner’s family lives. It is a beautiful area; hilly, with little villages and vineyards. Since we’re not able to go, I’m going to do a picture of it, so I can still visit through my work.
 

ER Where are some of the other places you will be visiting in your illustrations?
 

MS There are lots of pictures in my mind that I want to develop, and now is the time. A few years ago, I did a road trip around California and Utah, touring the National Parks; last year we visited Singapore and went to the Cloud Forest, a huge indoor garden.
 

ER You sent us some travel illustrations that you have already completed. What can you tell us about them?

April 8, 2020
An illustration by Miranda Sofroniou of Mount Hotham, Australia in autumn
Miranda Sofroniou's inspiration for a mountain illustration can be seen through her window
Mount Hotham, Australia.

Mount Hotham, Australia. This was right before the ski season started up last year. I went to visit my partner, who was working on the mountain, and the place we were staying had this beautiful view. The whole time we were there, the weather would change throughout the day: It would be quite cold, then snow, then the mist would come, and clouds, then it cleared. It was a constantly evolving scene through the windows.

An illustration by Miranda Sofroniou of a lighthouse at Port Macquarie, Australia
A lighthouse can be seen from the beaches of Port Macquarie, Australia
Port Macquarie, Australia.

Port Macquarie, Australia. My partner’s parents came to visit from Italy and we went on a five-week road trip from Cairns to Sydney in a camper van. We hadn’t realized how much driving it was, but we made some nice stops and this was one of them. There’s a beautiful coastal walk here that takes in lots of beaches and landscapes. This landscape was the last point before we turned around.

An illustration by Miranda Sofroniou of two women swimming in a rainforest pool
Photo of a rainforest pool in Mossman Gorge, Australia
Mossman Gorge, Australia.

Mossman Gorge, Australia. In northern Australia, you can’t swim in the sea because of crocodiles and jellyfish. But it is so hot and the sea looks so inviting, all you want to do is jump in. This was on the same road trip: We had just finished a big hike, we were boiling and we were so happy to find a spot where we could go for a swim. The pool is surrounded by forest and the leaves were falling – it felt a bit like The Jungle Book.

An illustration by Miranda Sofroniou of Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
Lake Pukaki, New Zealand (bottom).
Cycling along a trail that runs along Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Lake Pukaki, New Zealand. Last Christmas, my boyfriend and I went to New Zealand and drove around the South Island. It really feels remote and wild, with a variety of landscapes: mountains, rainforests, beaches, lakes. On the west side of the South Island, there are few towns and people; it’s just the sea on one side and the forest on the other. In this moment, we had just cycled 50 kilometres around Lake Pukaki, which faces Mount Cook, the highest mountain in the country. The water is literally that colour – it is stunning.

An illustration by Miranda Sofroniou of a house with a backyard pool in Canggu, Bali
A woman sitting beside a backyard pool in Canggu, Bali

Canggu, Bali. My sister’s family visited Bali after being in Singapore for a conference, so we met there. Living so far from the U.K., it’s difficult to see family, so it was nice to meet them in the middle – and to see my niece who was almost one at the time. The house we were staying in was set amongst the rainforest; I liked the colour of the swimming pool, the shape of the house and all of the tropical flora and fauna.
 

ER Where is the first place you want to go when we can start travelling again?
 

MS I want to visit my family in the U.K. and my partner’s family in Italy. After that, I would love to go to Japan, which has the range of landscapes I look for in a place. There are cities, but beautiful nature, too, and within one trip you can experience so many different things.
 

ER What do you hope people take away from your illustrations?
 

MS I hope they help people remember a moment from a similar trip. I like to capture moments that I’ve experienced but that other people can also relate to.
 

ER Can you share five Instagram accounts that inspire you?
 

MS @charlotte.ager, @beacerocchi, @rachelvhillis, @belynda_henry and @caitlinmcgauley.
 
 

Follow Miranda on her visual journeys @miranda_illustration.

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