• Allen Crater

Authors, Artists and Makers Volume 9: Sophie Herdrich

Updated: Apr 13


If you haven't heard of Sophie Herdrich yet, you need to remedy that as quickly as possible.


I first ran across Sophie's creations on a fly fishing page that I follow, and was immediately pulled in. While my personal taste in painting tends to run a little more in the classic "old masters" style, the bold colors, vibrant scenes, and graphic form found in Sophie's work is simply impossible to resist.


Although both chasing and painting trout are more recent pursuits, this multi-talented University of Michigan design-student's art speaks with the the authority of someone with many years behind the rod and the brush. Her mastery of the subject matter is impressive and inspiring, as is her story.


I had a chance to talk to Sophie about her background, her hobbies, and her painting in this interview and I'm excited to share it with you here.


My advice: snap up some of her work while you still can, because I think it's going to be in extremely high demand very very soon.


Q: Hi Sophie, thanks for joining me. So, as background, you grew up in Florida and then moved to Maine when you were 11 and then came to Michigan to attend U of M for Art and Design. You say you think of these as different “seasons” of your life; can you elaborate?


A: First off, thanks for having me chat with you. Yes, It is almost as if I separate my childhood as Florida, my adolescence as Maine, and my young adulthood as Michigan, all definitely different seasons of my life. Growing up in Florida was a wonderful upbringing for me. Though it was always around 80 degrees outside, I was constantly outside spending time with my older brother creating forts from brush outside, climbing every tree in sight, and fishing for catfish in our backyard pond. The outdoors were a huge part of my play, especially the ocean. My best friend’s dad had a charter boat (and is now a captain)- my first catch was on his boat and happened to be a big, square, yellow jack. I remember the first time experiencing the thrill of hooking something good!

Every single summer my family would go up North to our river house in Michigan on the old Au Sable river. It was the happiest part of the year, summers spent on the docks watching my grandfather and father cast their lines, eyes deadset on the trickling ripples of the Au Sable in the late afternoon.

Maine included fishing in a different sense. My father is an architect, so when we moved to Maine he built his nautical dream house across the street from Maine’s most famous fish market, Town Landing Market. It was up the street from Town Landing Harbor, where many locals would keep their boats docked but would come to grab a lobster roll from the Market and enjoy the beautiful views especially in the summertime. As we built the house, I would come home from school, grab a hammer, some paint, or some caulk, whatever needed, and get right to work. Me and my mom even hand tiled a self-built indoor lap pool with an octopus mosaic on the bottom. This house itself represents a big part of my life because of its proximity to the ocean and the fact that my family built it with our own hands. Our neighbors and best friends were very well known lobstermen and we would go out on the floats to help catch and cook them within a ten minute period. It was absolutely a dream.

In the meantime we continued to visit the river house and then our lake house in the summers, soon when it was time to pick a college I decided the University of Michigan was the best choice because of the way I could learn Art and Design as well as business hand-in- hand. When moving to Michigan I really began to take my art into my own hands, starting my own business and becoming very involved at the University.


Q: You are relatively new to fly fishing, but it sounds like fishing has always been a part of life – from the back-yard pond in Florida to out on floats in Maine and summers spent on the Au Sable River with your family – can you talk about each of those a little bit and what influence they had on your life and art?


A: Yes, as I noted, the difference between Maine and Florida as far as fishing style was very big, but both highly inspiring to me as an artist. My parents are both incredible artists and growing up I would always admire the watercolor trout paintings my father and grandfather had displayed around the lake house and river house in Michigan, all of which they made themselves. Not until recently did I start realizing how big of an influence these beautiful works in my family were until I started catching and painting my own trout.


Q: Your family actually has a pretty cool fly-fishing heritage and association with Trout Unlimited. Can you share a little of that with our readers?


A: Yes, my grandfather Harrison Goodhue was the group after the original 16 to help start trout unlimited. He knew everyone in Grayling, Michigan extremely well and had great relationships with the fly shop, canoe rental owners.

Q: you told me the fly-fishing bug really hit you on a trip to Colorado with your boyfriend and his family. Can you talk about that moment?


A: I really cannot leave out my boyfriend’s family when it comes to me catching the fly-fishing bug. They are avid hunters and fishers to an extreme degree, doing everything from hand catching lobsters in the reefs of the Florida keys to salmon fishing with float planes in Alaska. He definitely had an influence on me, especially when we went fly fishing under the dam at Catamount lake in Steamboat, Colorado. This was where I hooked a huge 24 inch rainbow trout within five minutes of my first cast. Learning the ways of “the dance” was absolutely thrilling as I fought to reel it in and admire its beautiful scales, reflecting the afternoon light.


Q: In addition to fly fishing, what other outdoor activities are you into?


A: Anything fast. I love ATVing, wake-surfing, surfing especially, hiking, biking, and snowmobiling when I can get my hands on one. I especially love combining travel and staying active- this is one of my favorite things. It is almost as if my passion for roller coasters growing up an hour away from Disney and Busch Gardens transferred over to activities like snowmobiling and ATVing once I got older.

Q: Besides painting you are also a musician/singer and photographer, can you talk about each of those?


A: Yes, I have many passions in the arts. I have been a photographer for a long time (since high school), starting my own business as a Junior in high school and photographing countless senior portraits, editorial photoshoots, and even weddings. I got a job as a wedding photographer assistant and really learned a lot as a high school senior. When I came to Michigan I got a job at the law school, photographing law students and the infamous Michigan Law Quad. This eventually led me to UMSocial, Michigan’s Social Media team of about five interns, where I have been working for almost three years now. I am very thankful to be on the team and to have stayed for so long while in college- UMSocial has provided me with the opportunity to photograph the university’s Instagram content, create graphics, shoot basketball games, and more. I always found photography as “a way in” to random places and meeting new people I wouldn’t have been able to before.

Outside of classes, social life, and my job at UMSocial, I am a singer in a band called Atomic Sauce, a rock and r n b band which I formed with my friends. My father went to Michigan for college too and had a band called Atomic Cafe, playing at all the classic local bars and venues. I said to myself ,”If I graduate college without starting a band, I won't graduate” So here I am 33 years later carrying on the legacy of my dad’s “Atomic” band playing at the same venues. He actually just got the band back together and we are looking to book a double show!

Q: It sounds like artistic talents run in your family. When did you first discover your passion for painting?


A: This is true! My family is as unathletic as it is creative haha! My mother is an art therapist and painter as well as interior designer on the side, my father an architect, artist, and avid musician (piano/keys and vocals, trumpet player), my older brother can play anything he picks up and has 6 albums released, all of different genres. My younger brother who is 14 is probably the most talented out of all of us musically. He plays trumpet, piano, sings, and is a full-blown producer creating film scores and hip hop.


My passion for painting began as soon as I could hold a paintbrush! I still have paintings from when I was three years old and a 24-book comic series from when I was six about a green pea named “Fomo” and his adventures. Even in middle school I was a little entrepreneur, selling custom clay sculpture necklaces to my classmates and friends. I always loved creating, making mini businesses, and working with others.

Q. Much of your early work featured landscapes (lizard-scapes and campus-scapes) and portraits, but painting trout is relatively new for you. What drew you to that subject matter and what do you like about it?


A: Interest wise I went from portraits to landscapes to now... fish! I started painting trout because I made one as a commission for someone and fell in love with how even the natural pattern of the trout look so incredibly graphic in and of themselves. It is a wonderful way to combine nature and a bold style. Fish can be placed in so many compositions on the canvas too- jumping out of the water, half underwater, grasped in a lucky fisher’s hands, even on a solid background for a more bold look- I swear I always have new ways to paint these guys constantly running through my head!

Q: One thing that is very noticeable about your painting is the boldness and vibrancy, you say: “I love to create in an unapologetically colorful and graphic style often with a hint of humor.” Can you expand on that for me?


A: Yes- I think artwork should lighten up a room, grasp your eye, and amuse you. The combination of vibrancy and graphic visuals is something I have always been drawn to. Humor in addition to this in a lot of my more graphic pieces or advertisements / comic work is something that really excited me. It was my way of creating this “amusement” for the viewer within my work.


Q: To me, your trout work has hints of two other talented artists with Michigan roots: Derek DeYoung and Sarah Landstrom. Who were some of the folks that inspired you or maybe mentored you?


A: I am honored to be compared to these artists! Definitely some of my favorites as far as trout. My father definitely helped me nail the right color patterns on the trout but I have to say that Sarah Landstrom was definitely one of my biggest inspirations. I remember going to “The Square Grouper” in the Keys with my family a while back and seeing some of Derek DeYoung's work on the walls near the kitchen and absolutely freaking out over how much I loved his work. Very inspiring composition wise. Like I said, I am always thinking of new ways I can paint a fish, and Derek has a way of breaking barriers with the way he presents the trout on a canvas.

Q. How would YOU describe your style?


A: I would describe my style as a bold and graphic accentuation of the already beautiful and colorful natural world around me. This accentuation is me and my style coming out in the artwork as I strive to reflect back the mystifying landscapes, animals and people around me.


Q. Favorite artists. I’m always curious to know who inspires those that inspire me. So, who are some of your favorite artists (painters, musicians, writers, etc.) and why? Who inspires you?


A: Good question indeed- my favorite visual artist is Sari Shryack if you don’t know her, her style makes me absolutely melt. I could stare at her artwork all day. The way she paints everyday nostalgic items from the 90s and early 2000s as well as nature and landscapes is like none other. Her use of color is mind blowing. I also love artist Jean Michelle Basquiat, who makes crazy compositions with almost a child-like style. Musically I love Led Zeppelin, the way they have so much depth and range to their songs. I also love listening to Anderson Paak- his style of rap and hip hop/ r & b is so vibrant and unapologetic.


Q: Ok, talk to me about Respect The Squid...?


A: Haha! This is a good one. I absolutely love calamari to a religious degree. I started taking photos and rating the different places I tried in my iphone notes but there were so many that I made an instagram called “Respect the Squid”. The funny part is, it’s not just a normal food blog about finding the best dish. It’s a brutally honest comical review page where I order the calamari on the menu wherever I go, as long as it’s on the menu. You can imagine this has resulted in some interesting dishes, take calamari from the middle of Nebraska as one example.


Q: What are your goals after graduation?


A: After I graduate (and I’m not joking) I plan to move to Hawaii with a remote job for 9 months, painting and living with friends, just taking in the adventure of the paradise-like outdoors. I have always known I wanted to move to Hawaii after college and it’s still in the books! More professionally, I hope to get a job as a graphic designer and then art director someday as I have so many artistic passions and can't focus on one at a time. As I do this, I plan to continue painting commissions and building my business, Sophia Noel Design, curating it into what I really feel like it’s meant to be.

Q: Anything fun on the horizon – art wise, fishing wise, travel wise?


A: Yes! I am going on a photography trip to Italy with photographer Rachel Bush and other creatives who signed up. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this. I do travel a lot- my method is trading in two big paintings for a ticket to somewhere new for the weekend with a friend or a few as I make my profits while I’m “young and free”. I hopefully will be creating a series of trout paintings for a coffee and fly fishing shop opening in the near future as well. In addition, I’m very excited to share that I have artwork being made for a very well known mens and womens fashion site- this will take a few months to come to full effect and be up on the website but I am very excited.


Q: Your website is sophianoeldesign.com; is this the best place to inquire about your work?


A: Inquiries@sophianoeldesign.com is how to contact me, but I also have my instagram @sophianoeldesign where I post current projects and works.

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