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Coloring a Career

Coloring Corner artist Sophia Openshaw makes her way

Sophia Openshaw caught our eye with a postcard illustration of a whimsical turtle playing a bass against an American Southwest backdrop. That turtle helped Bay Weekly launch its popular Coloring Corner nearly a year ago.
    Openshaw, a 20-something Annapolitan, dreams of moving to the Big Apple. Meanwhile she balances the cozy comforts of home, surrounded by parents and pets, with new experiences in the big world.
    “All of my friends are in New York City,” she says. Her career dreams are there, too. Her time studying illustration at Syracuse University opened her eyes to the thrills of big city life. “Every weekend I can, I’m up there.”
    A 2011 graduate of Annapolis High School, Openshaw is the daughter of civil engineers and supporters of the arts. “We were at Maryland Hall a lot, taking lots of classes,” Openshaw says of her childhood.
    Openshaw always liked to draw and doodle, but her love of animals took her to Syracuse to study biology and zoology. She wound up in the Newhouse photography program.
    But, she says, “a college drawing course and professor pushed me to change my major to illustration.”
    After earning her degree, Openshaw returned to Annapolis to work with ColorFire, a small digital marketing company.
    “I really wanted to save my money,” she says. “It’s been nice to kind of just chill and work for a while, and I love hanging out with my family. I’m grateful they let me move back home for a while.”
    Her sisters are no longer at home. One takes the bar this summer, the other is studying business at Brown, so Openshaw has had her parents — and her pets — to herself.
    “We are an animal-loving family,” she says. “But we are down from four animals to one now, and it’s getting a little lonely. I think we need another puppy.”
    Openshaw’s illustrations often feature animals in surprising costumes and poses. They reflect her dabbling in the world of comic book art through Visionary Creative Services and her love of Calvin and Hobbes.
    “I’m always looking for inspiration. I like to have suggestions and guidelines for my drawings,” she says of her Coloring Corners for Bay Weekly. She sketches both in a notebook and on a tablet.
    She likes to start with a word chart related to her subject.
    “Then I go through and eliminate the ones that don’t appeal to me and develop ideas based on the words that work.”
    She prefers a good podcast to music while she’s working. “I’m obsessed with The Economist shows and also No Such Thing as a Fish. When I listen to music, I just keep changing it. Podcasts keep me focused, and I don’t need every one of my ­senses engaged to follow along.”
    For the future, Openshaw is open to options.
    “I’m learning so much and trying so many new things now,” she says. “I don’t know where I will end up. But I know it will be work that is both collaborative and creative.”