Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Unretouchable! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Sofia Szamosi: Unretouchable tells the story of a recent high school graduate, Olive, who lands a summer internship working with a photo retoucher for a fashion magazine in NYC. Over the course of the summer, Olive becomes immersed in a brand new world of image creation and manipulation, and as she tweaks the models’ photos in the name of “beauty,” she begins to question the ethics of her work behind the scenes. As college grows near, she grapples with some big questions about how beauty norms affect body image and how to live authentically on and offline. Unretouchable is based on a zine I created in 2016, after I completed a similar internship and found myself feeling alienated by the world of digital images, advertising, and social media, ultimately turning toward self-discovery and self-acceptance.
BD: What can you share with us about balancing both the writing and illustrative duties of Unretouchable, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
SS: Even more than I consider myself a writer or an illustrator, I consider myself a person who loves to tell stories with pictures and words together. The text and the artwork work like collaborators to complete the story. I love artists like Wanda Gag, Alison Bechdel, and Marjane Satrapi.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Olive’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
SS: Yes! Stories do matter, and so do images and image-creation. Because where we choose to look and to give our attention, even when we do it unconsciously, has great power. Olive’s story is about growing up in an age when we are marketed to more than ever, retouching and beauty apps are the norm, and our screens are saturated with never ending streams of images and stories… We are all grappling with the implications of these systems, stuck inside them to some extent, and figuring out how to do our best. Because images and stories matter, I hope Unretouchable can be one piece of the larger conversation about how to be conscious consumers and creators of images and stories.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
SS: I am very excited about my second graphic novel, which I am hard at work on and is close to being done. But, it has to stay a secret for now!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Unretouchable and your other work?
SS: You can find me online at: