Wonder Woman Wednesday: Sophia Wiedeman

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Happy Wonder Woman Wednesday!
Todays Wonder Woman is entrepreneur, Sophia Wiedeman. She writes and illustrates the coolest comics and I had the pleasure of meeting her earlier this year.
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Name and Job Title
Sophia Wiedeman, Comic Artist, Illustrator and Educator

Business Name and Location
My name is my business!
I draw comics, formerly in NYC now in Charlottesville, VA.
I also teach art and design at James Madison University and Piedmont Virginia Community College.

How did you get started doing what you’re doing? 
I fell in love with comics at twelve.
There was literal moment when it struck me deep in my little heart while reading an X-Men comic, that this this is it, this is what I want to do with my life.
So from then on I kept drawing, fantasized heavily, wondered how to actually start, refused to start, then made terrible terrible comics before going to an Illustration program at School of Visual Arts in New York City where I finally figured it out enough to make my first real working comic in 2008.
Since then have been married in my heart to the thankless, tedious, and all-consuming process of writing, drawing and publishing book after book, hoping I am getting to closer to better.
It’s fun.

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What is your mission statement?
I suppose it could be

“To make people feel something through well-drawn stories.”

Maybe I’ll put that on a business card.

Who do you usually work with? 
I work alone. Very alone.
Sometimes I share work in progress with my husband or my sister and the odd trusted fellow cartoonist. That’s the extent of it.
When illustrating though I have to work with an art director or a client, so then my work becomes a service where I have to bounce my art back and forth for their approval, which can be rewarding.
But writing comics is entirely isolating and independent.

What tools do you use?
Paper and Ink. I use a nib pen and rapidograph pens alternately.
I’m trying to make more comics in straight up pencil.  But I love the feel and the ceremony of dipping a nib into a pot of ink.
I color in water color, but also oils, anything that works.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
When it comes to cartooning it is that weird bliss I only ever experience when I manage to achieve total absorption with the task at hand.
Short answer: Drawing.
When teaching it is the absolute opposite, it is the turning myself outward and actually connecting with people which, as an extrovert, I thrive on.

What accomplishments are you the most proud of?
Making books while working full time. I’m an expert at talking myself out of things that intimidate me so anytime I have pushed through that and done what I actually want instead of just what I am comfortable with, I consider it a major coup.

What’s your favorite testimonial you’ve ever received?
I have been lucky enough to receive some thoughtful praise from some very good writers and reviewers of comics, but I’m supremely touched when readers tell me, “it made me cry” or “I recognize myself this.”

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What’s the most effective way you’ve found to promote your business?
An actual website is important to have, but I am not sure how much attention it gets me, it is more somewhere for people to go once they realize you exist.
I really love Instagram and Tumblr actually because of the visual nature of my work, but mostly going to small press/independent comic book festivals is my most powerful form of promotion.
Meeting people face to face, becoming a real person to people who love comics as much as I do, who understand why I feel this way: that’s vital stuff. Also, always have a little tangible something to hand to someone.
People like stuff, they like holding something. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a real something, it could be a button or a card.
It helps facilitate and bookmark the interaction between two individuals.

What motivates you? What cheers you up or encourages you when you’re down?
That my prime as a cartoonist is ahead of me, that it is a slow burn, that I love this more than anything, and that this sustains me.
Ultimately I write to connect with people, and success is defined in many ways by finding an audience, but I also believe I have a duty to make books that please myself first and foremost.
Can you imagine a more cheering and freeing concept?

How do you best take care of yourself? What is your favorite way to be healthy?
Stretching, stretching, stretching. Yoga, yoga, yoga.

What is your greatest strength?
My ability to absolutely fixate on a goal.

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(Frames from Sophia’s Heart Monster: A Tangent)

Who inspires you? What have they taught you?
My sister, Julia, is a constant source of strength and inspiration.
I can’t really stress enough that I have a particularly talented and inspiring support system in my family, my parents, my brothers, and my friends, many of whom make ridiculously good art at a pace I can only marvel at.
My husband is particularly good at keeping me focused on what matters and what I want too, but my sister and I both have ambitious creative goals which seem, at times, impossible.
We lived together for 6 of the toughest years in our lives and her dedication, her bravery, and her hutzpah was the best thing to witness as I began to attack my own version of “impossible.”
 
What’s the best advice or wisdom you’ve ever received? 
My advisor, David Heatley, is a very wise and patient person. He said a lot of things that I run in loop in my brain, but two have proved particularly resonant:

“Give yourself ten years”

And

“You learn about things when you need to know them.”

Both I guess speak to being patient with yourself. To both not expecting too much of the world while not beating yourself up about not being a savvy expert before you need/can be.

What’s your best productivity tip? 
Don’t get up until you get something down.

Favorite book?:  
This is such an impossible question but “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White is a good start.

What is your biggest goal for 2015? 
Finish all the books I have in the works. I have only ever made a book a year and it’s just not enough. But if I keep up the pace I am at I could finish three. Born, Not Raised is a collection of short comics which I finished last month, and Semi-Solid is forthcoming in a matter of weeks!

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{Please send a photo or two of yourself at your happiest! And tell me a little bit about the photo(s)}

It was so hard to chose! I spent way too long sifting through pics, but here are a couple. I really am at my happiest either drawing or dancing/laughing with people I love.

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The first photo is of me tearing paper to begin inking, so I am excited.

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The other was taken a couple years ago on a perfect day with friends. It was sunny and windy, there were drinks, I was wearing a hat, and I couldn’t stop laughing.
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You can find Sophia here:
Website

Tumblr

Twitter
@sophiawiedeman

And you can purchase her amazing comics here:
Storenvy
Etsy

Thank you so much, Sophia! It was wonderful getting to know you better. You are the coolest comic girl, ever!! I love your sense of humor and I completely connect with your comics–I find them deeply profound, like someone understands the way I think and the things I’ve experienced.

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