On the Cover: Sophie Foulkes

I meet cover artist Sophie Foulkes at her roommate’s studio in a converted mill building in Pawtucket. The space is warm, bright. An A/C hums. Sunlight pours through the windows onto two tattoo beds. Tables and desks are set with visual projects — strewn prints and sketches, the beginning stages of ideas. I take a seat on a blue couch.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a space here,” Foulkes tells me. “But I like being here, I sit on this couch a lot.”

A recent RISD graduate, Foulkes was born in Providence and raised in Amherst, MA — home to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. “I went there as a child,” says Foulkes. “And I volunteered there in high school; I’m very inspired by his collage work.”

In addition to Carle, Foulkes lists Joohee Yoon and Maurice Sendak as artistic inspirations. “I had a professor at RISD, Joohee Yoon, she’s an illustrator, a children’s book illustrator, too. She definitely inspires me, and she does a lot of printmaking,” says Foulkes. “And I love [Sendak’s] whimsical, creepy stories. I feel like my characters are drawn from whimsical silly moments. A lot of this cover has my characters in it that are inspired by my friends and silly moments with them.”

Foulkes is bright and buoyant. She answers questions with a smile, looks to the ceiling to find her phrasing, says “Hmm, that’s a good question” and laughs when a question provokes more layers than time and polite discourse permit. She discusses the characters that live in her head. “I started with them a couple of years ago, they’re not in every piece but in my head there’s a town of characters. The first piece I did was based on the poem ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.’ In that piece, the owl and the cat were getting married and ever since then there have been random celebratory events with them. In this one, they’re all celebrating the food trucks in Providence.”

Together, the name of this issue’s cover art, began as a sketch. Foulkes begins each work by drawing with graphite and ink, then scans her sketches into her computer where she works with Photoshop and a texture library she’s created to “Frankenstein collage it together.”

“I love overlapping different textures…I feel like the way my brain works is in the separating of colors, overlapping them, and then seeing how the colors interact with each other.”

Foulkes is an illustrator with a background in printmaking. While at RISD she switched her focus to illustration, a medium which gave her a deeper understanding of how to communicate through art; however, once a printmaker, always a printmaker — Foulkes has jumped on the RISO train. She loves the beauty and fluorescent brilliance of Risographs, particularly when fluorescent pink overlaps with yellow to create “a sparkling orange.”

“Since I have a lot of textures and details in my work it sometimes gets overly complicated, but [RISO] forces me to uncomplicate everything because I can only have three layers of color. You don’t really know what it’s going to look like until you print, and sometimes the printer won’t print it exactly, it’ll be a little off-center, but in a really beautiful way. I love that aspect of it, that element of surprise.”

Take a look at Foulkes’ website and you’ll be greeted with spirited prints and whimsical stories and a series of stop motion videos, including a pirouetting ballerina, an umbrella lost to a storm that transitions to a bug that then becomes a hair clip, and my personal favorite, Nicotine vs. Food Addiction, in which two bodies bliss out on their favorite addictions — cigarettes and pizza.

This summer Foulkes will teach workshops at Snow Farm, and has an upcoming gallery show at Club George in Northampton. She is also at work on a children’s book about a cuckoo clock and a series of works she hopes will capture the vibe of Providence. “I’m trying to encapsulate not just the people, but the general feeling.

When asked what colors the vibe of Providence radiates, Foulkes smiles, looks to the ceiling, says “Hmm, that’s a good question,” then laughs and replies, “There are really beautiful sunsets in Providence, so I’d
say the golden hour colors — the oranges and the purples.”

To view and purchase works by Sophie Foulkes visit To request a commission, connect with her on IG @s0.phie or send her an email