Celebrating Neurodiversity: An interview with our Range Manager

Celebrating Neurodiversity: An interview with our Range Manager

20th Mar 2024

At East End Prints we value community and accessibility above all, we care deeply about our Artists and creative community and want to celebrate and honour our differences. 

With some members of the EEP team being Neurodiverse we feel personally connected to this cause and want to connect with others who feel strongly. We sat down with our Range Manager to learn more about how her Neurodiversity is her superpower. 

Hey Sophia, tell us a bit about your role at EEP?

Hello! I am the Creative and Range manager and I look after all our artists.

I am responsible for sourcing new artwork and curating our print and card collections for retail and wholesale. I also work with our sales team to put together seasonal range presentations for our high street clients.

As you know, we’re celebrating Neurodiversity week, could you tell us a bit about your journey with Neurodiversity?

Of course! I am dyslexic. I was diagnosed in 2014 whilst at university where I studied Illustration at Kingston. I always struggled with non-art subjects at school like English and Maths, information just wouldn't go in easily and I found it hard to learn sometimes. However, it went unnoticed and I was very good at masking it as a child. I excelled in artistic subjects and so it was a bit of a given.

Anyway, back to Uni, I wrote a short paper in my first term of first year for our art history class and the comments I got as feedback were really harsh. The tutor rote "Terrible spelling, bad grammar. Try harder." I just felt so frustrated and upset. I tried as hard as I could and I just knew that I needed more support in this area. I then booked in to test via the Uni and it came back as yep, you are dyslexic. So there we go! It was such a relief to hear this, that I actually had a Neurodiverse brain, and it wasn't just "you need to try harder".

Neurodiversity can be beneficial in creative roles, can you tell us a bit about how your dyslexia helps you with your role?

Oh absolutely. Whilst I struggle with writing and processing information verbally, my visual senses are completely heightened. This definitely helps me with my role here. I have super-power eyes if you like (haha!), so I am really good at spotting great designs and it helps me find awesome new artists and curate our ranges. You need a variety of people to do all the jobs that need to be done in a team. Not everyone can be like me but also, it's ok that I'm rubbish with spreadsheets, it's okay that my brain doesn't work in this way because it doesn't need to.

How do you deal with potentially damaging misconceptions around Neurodiversity?

I just refer back to my strengths and how it makes me stronger in other areas.

I am not going to be a scientist or a writer, my brain struggles with some tasks. It's taken me a few years to feel comfortable telling people about it, but once you get over this and are confident in your strengths, you can celebrate them. I just tell people it's not a disadvantage and am just strong and confident about what I can and can't do and people respect that. If they don't, they're not worth the conversation!

Has having a creative outlet been beneficial to you and your Neurodiversity?

Being able to be creative has definitely been beneficial to me. Because I am a visual learner, being creative allows me to use that skill set every day and use it to my advantage. Without creative work, I would spend my time struggling to complete "normal" tasks. Especially as well at school, being better at creative work, meant I didn't feel I was totally crap at everything. So in that way, it's been hugely beneficial as well to realise I can be good at other things, and not just writing and reading, and this is ok!

What is one thing you wish people knew about your Dyslexia?

Being dyslexic is not a disadvantage. It just means you learn and process information in a different way which is totally fine. You can adapt how you work and learn to suit the way your brain is. We don't all fit into the same box.

What advice would you give to anyone struggling with the pressures of their Neurodiversity?

It can feel hard at times, especially in the beginning or in the undiagnosed stage. But you just need to know that it's never a disadvantage. Everyone has their strengths and their weaknesses and this is ok. Use it to your advantage and thrive on where your strengths are. If you like art, go for it, keep going, and don't assume that you need to do certain types of jobs or work to succeed or be happy. Finally, always talk. Always communicate with others how you are feeling or what you are struggling with. If you need to learn in a different way or do a different type of project, or job, you can make it work and the right people in life will understand and be there to help you :)

Check out some of Sophia's amazing designs here!