What brought you to illustration?
I have always loved drawing ... so it was almost inevitable for me to become an illustrator.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I live in a forest. Every morning I either run or go for a walk in the woods, before I start drawing. I work very disciplined until 4pm, when my daughter demands my presence. I only illustrate children's books and I do not work on a computer, so everything is drawn with pencil and brushes. When I have to start a new book project, I always start by outlining the different characters with a soft pencil. I draw their facial expressions and body language and describe their interrelationships as accurately as possible so that one can sense what is going on inside them. The next thing I draw is the storyboard. I arrange all the scenes and the whole plot. Then I start to refine the compositions on the individual posts. I emphasize the immediate, the dynamic, and the expression. My line is sketchy and I try not to hide the materials. You have to be able to see brushstrokes and the paint that has been coloured with. So I don’t have a typical work day, but I have a typical work flow.
What was your very first illustration?
The first drawing I drew was on the wall in my childhood home ... My parents were not very happy with my artwork.
What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
If a story contains contradictions in some way, it can be inspiring and form images I feel like drawing. It can be big topics like life and death, or the good and the bad. A few years ago I illustrated a children's bible. There were many contrasts in the stories, which were challenging and exciting to draw. I can also be inspired when I watch people, go for a walk in the woods, or watch a movie.
Do you like listening to music or audio books while working or do you prefer silence?
I always listen to the radio when I work. I hear a program with a lot of talk about culture, music, literature, film, theater. When I sit immersed in my own little drawing world, it's nice to get some input from the world outside.
Is there a particular story you would love to illustrate?
I like to draw many different kinds of stories. I really like to draw both the humorous and the more serious. The text should not be too descriptive or explanatory — it should leave room for the illustrations. It can be big existential topics, but I can also see the excitement in illustrating small everyday glimpses. And If you and your best friend had a quarrel, it is very existential for a child.
What makes a good illustrator?
A good illustrator knows how to expand the story. The illustrations must contribute something more, so that text and illustrations together become something bigger.
Do you struggle sometimes? Do you have to motivate yourself, and if so, what helps? Is there a kind of "illustrator’s block?”
I often struggle with the illustration work. I can be impatient with many things, but when I draw I am very persistent and keep going until I am happy with the result. Unfortunately, I use a lot of expensive watercolor paper to draw, discard, and redraw. My drawings seem easy to make, but often it takes many attempts before I reach an uncomplicated and playful expression.