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🎵 IT187: Mycophilia
✏️ Sofia Johnston
🗓 17.11.22

Sofia is an illustrator and animator based in London, UK.

Hi Sofia. Can you tell us a little bit about your tape and your song selections?

Hello! My tape is an ode to fungi, music that makes me think of the magical world of mushrooms and what they might sound like, and it’s a perfect playlist for going to find mushrooms in the wild.

Searching for fungi in my local forests is a hobby of mine which began in the autumn Covid lockdown of 2020. On my many walks (to keep myself sane) I began spotting amazing fungi on mossy logs, under ferns and growing up trees. I had always been interested in mushrooms, but didn’t realise there were so many right under my nose all this time. As my interest grew, I also began discovering the common names for the mushrooms I was spotting, many of which are quite characterful and funny such as ‘Black Witches Butter’ and ‘Laughing Gym’. Fungi spotting gave my walks a new purpose, almost like a game or as if I was collecting the different varieties like cards. It made what had become a mundane daily outing more exciting again, and was also relaxing and therapeutic in ways.

This ambient mixtape would be a fitting soundtrack for going out mushroom hunting, whether it be to forage or just admire their magnificence. I think these songs capture the magic of fungi, their humbleness and incredible connection with the trees and forest around them.

What direction did you take with your cover art, and what was your process?

I wanted my artwork to capture the moment of intrigue when discovering a new or interesting mushroom. I had been sketching a little character for a while who is a woodland wanderer wearing a mushroom hat, which made the perfect fit for my cover art.

I played around sketching different compositions and scenes of my character finding a mushroom, and ultimately landed on quite a zoomed in shot of them holding up a ‘Witch’s Hat’, a species of waxcap fungi which I recently found for the first time in a beautiful orangey red colour. The colour of the mushroom also inspired the colour palette of the artwork, which I kept quite limited and felt was nice and autumnal. The piece features many other species of fungi growing on the trees in the background, most of which I have found and some I hope to one day.

What are your fave album covers, records with a great music and artwork combo, or musical projects with a visual component?

I have always loved Jason Galea’s artwork for the band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, his design for their album Oddments is my favourite. His unique artistic style is so varied, just like their music, making it the perfect fit.

Oddments – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
2014, Flightless
Artwork: Jason Galea

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard [poster]
Roseland Theater, Portland, OR, USA
Artwork: Jason Galea

Another project that comes to mind is ‘Young Colossus’, a collaboration between musician Orlando Weeks and illustrator Robert Hunter. The project resulted in a graphic novel, written by Weeks and illustrated by Hunter, with an accompanying 6 track mini album. The work is absolutely beautiful, and the combination of visuals and music really transports you to the other world they have created.

Young Colossus – Orlando Weeks & Robert Hunter
2012, Black Records
Artwork: Robert Hunter

What did you listen to growing up?

I remember being obsessed with ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘Octopus’s Garden’ by the Beatles for a long time as a child, probably because of their fun narrative lyrics. Besides that it was an eclectic mix of ABBA, Gwen Stefani and the Scissor Sisters. 

And what’s on heavy rotation for you at the moment?

Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

What’s happening in your creative world at the moment?

Pottering on with personal projects and working on improving my animation skills in my spare time. I’m looking to take on more freelance projects, so if you’d like to work together do get in touch!

Where can we find you?

You can find me on Instagram @illustratesofia and you can see my work on my website at sofiajohnstonillustration.com

Thanks Sofia 👋🏽