Warren ’13 Talks Virtual Advice, Cartoons, Creativity

sofia warren

The New Yorker cartoonist Sofia Warren ’13 recently created an online advice column titled “You’re Doing Great.” (Art provided by Sofia Warren)

Sofia Warren ’13 has always loved to draw, but she didn’t know she could make a career out of it until graduating from Wesleyan and entering the world of animation. Now she works as a cartoonist for The New Yorker and recently launched a virtual advice column called “You’re Doing Great.”

“It feels like a really fun fusion for me of art, which I love to do, and listening to people and figuring out how to help them,” Warren said about the column.

She originally began posting doodles on her Instagram stories around the time of the election and asking people what they wanted her to draw. The virtual advice took off from there.

warren

When Warren needs to come up with ideas, she takes walks to clear her head. “That’s a really good way for me to start making connections between things that I’m looking at, just get the juices flowing,” Warren said. “That’s been my most successful practice for coming up with stuff.”

“I love doing [the column],” Warren said. “It’s primarily there because it brings me joy right now. And I don’t need to put the pressure on for it to be something else at the moment. In some ways, [the column] feels so loose and kind of off the cuff in a way, whereas some of my other work is more labored over. In some ways I feel the most connected to it and it feels like the most representative of my voice and myself.”

Warren also expressed hope that the virtual advice brings other people joy in this time of isolation.

At Wesleyan, Warren double majored in psychology and film studies. She also worked for the Eight-to-Eight student listening service.

Warren says her Wesleyan experiences helped shape the way she approaches her work.

“Wes totally changed my life!” she said. “I owe so much of the way that I think to the things that I learned there and what I had access to there. In my particular case, the film major was really useful for my work and analyzing the form of film is something that comes into practice every single day for me, when I’m composing frames and thinking about where the camera is. It all really translates.”

Warren’s parents, both visual artists, met at the Rhode Island School of Design but didn’t want her to go to art school as they had.

“They said that you learn the techniques of art and you don’t have anything to make art about because you haven’t learned to think,” Warren said. “And I really feel like Wes was the opposite. I totally got this really robust education from all over the place that I think about every day.”

Warren expected to go into art direction for movies after graduating from Wesleyan, but with the help of her friend, Jason Katzenstein ’13, she began moving into animation and then eventually submitting cartoons to The New Yorker.

Warren had previously considered animation but figured she was not meticulous enough for it. Now she works as both a cartoonist and an animator. “Now that I am doing it, it feels very obvious to me because it's all of my favorite things in one place,” Warren said. “But it definitely took a little bit of meandering to figure out that it was a viable thing to do.”

Sofia Warren, pictured, had previously considered animation but figured she was not meticulous enough for it. Now she works as both a cartoonist and an animator.
“Now that I am doing it, it feels very obvious to me because it’s all of my favorite things in one place,” Warren said. “But it definitely took a little bit of meandering to figure out that it was a viable thing to do.”

“I don’t think that I seriously thought about [cartooning] as a career,” Warren said. “I grew up in a really small town. So my experience with comics before — I guess really until after college — was mostly from newspaper strips and from a little bit from French comics, because my dad had some old French comics that we used to read. But I didn’t have a lot of exposure to graphic novels or this whole other world of people working in the space of comics.”

Creativity comes naturally to Warren, but she has also found ways to foster a creative environment for herself.

“I think you can set up a space for yourself and set up practices that make it easier to access your creativity,” Warren said. “I think coming up with ideas and being creative is absolutely something that comes with practice—I just don’t think it’s a God-given trait. It depends on the work. One of the things I love about the advice column and engaging with people on Instagram is that it feels very fluid and totally full of joy and fun.”

She highlighted that the advice column has been a nice break from some of the more structured work she does.

“The main thing that I’m working on right now is quite serious and very curated and carefully scaffolded,” Warren said. “So in a lot of ways, the advice column has been a nice outlet for play for me. And it doesn’t feel like work to come up with ideas.”

Creating art as her full-time job can sometimes be a source of pressure, Warren said. Despite that, Warren expressed her love for her work.

“My favorite thing about the work that I’m doing is that it just feels infinitely variable,” Warren said. “And I really love that it gives me this opportunity to just connect with the world.”

Warren is currently working on a graphic memoir about state politics that will be published by Top Shelf Productions in the summer of 2022. To check out more of her work, visit http://sofiawarren.com/about or find her on Instagram at @sofiawarrenart.