An interesting and insightful interview from our new illustrator, Mamei!
Where do you live/work?
I live in Dresden, the capitol of Saxony in Germany.
What do you love about working there?
I love the mediterranean flair of my city. The summers are very warm and dry and you can sit with friends in one of the many beer gardens on the river Elbe. My studio is located in the scene-district in town. There live many cultures together and you can shop very well. Also, the pubs and cafes are always well visited. There I can quickly make dates with customers, or take a coffee at lunchtime with my colleagues.
What are your dislikes?
Nationalism and corruption. As far as people are concerned unreliability, arrogance, ignorance and brutality. Jean-Paul Satre said: "Who loves the people must hate what oppresses them."
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
I turned my hobby into my profession. And I've been able to live on it for few years now. Previously I worked in many agencies and had a lot of stress. Now I can organize my time. My illlustration agency helps me with this process too. That's luxury in my eyes. I have more time with my family at the moment.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
Mostly I draw with pencil, next step I use black ink and an old school analog drawing pen. Finally I add colour on my Wacom Cintiq or Companion ready.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
My clients says I am a fast pencil narrator. I can develop concepts with them and sketch fast with a pen. On my hidden objects pictures I tell nonverbally the life on the streets and the secrets in the buildings. Things, that you don't normally see at first glance. I love to draw in this style. In Germany we call this "Wimmelbild", a picture with teeming crowds of people. In the Renaissance, the Dutch were the first artists who painted hidden object pictures, oil on canvas. Exciting scenes with lots of people and animals at celebrations on farms and frozen lakes. One of the best was Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Very nice.
Are there any tricky parts to being an illustrator?
Billings for the tax office is one thing, but otherwise being an illustrator is a dream job. I don't want to change this. For that I accept that I have to constantly learn and always improve. But I think that once you have found your style, you should take care of it and just tweak it a bit.
What or who are you inspired by?
I love the old illustrators from the first half of the last century. For example, Tony Sarg, Erich Ohser or Walter Trier. I am also influenced by the Russian illustration of the Soviet Union's only cartoon issue until 1989, the "Crocodile". Of the modern hidden objects picture illustrators I like, for example, Ali Mitgutsch or Uli Oesterle very well.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
My hobby is the old times. More specifically, I am looking for clothes in the style of those days. And I wear them every day. Mostly the solid materials like raw denim. I enjoy that and my wife likes to be dressed by me as well.
How did you get into illustration?
First I started as a decorator. In a small workshop on the outskirts of Dresden. The first Macintosh computers came out in 1990 and I started to work as a computer graphic designer. After that I worked as an art director in several agencies in Germany and Switzerland. But drawing began to gain the upper hand. And at some point I became a Freelancer. My contacts from that time helped me a lot.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
1. Never hang your head when no orders come. 2. Always improve your own style. Also by rhyming and stealing. Look for new techniques. 3. Work in a team. Then you learn more. Two are stronger than one alone. Three stronger than two. And so on.
What’s your ultimate dream?
Haha, that's good. Normally, I would already be content to publish outside Europe. But the ultimate kick would probably be to paint a cover for "The New Yorker" once in a lifetime. There the old heroes of my childhood drew. More is not possible in my eyes. I should just believe in it. That definitely helps.