Interview: Sandra Dieckmann – Nov 2014



What do you listen to when drawing?

We all share a studio playlist here that we contribute to. It’s called Mama Wolf just like the studio I share. It has a wild mix of stuff on it. I guess something for everyone. From German Krautrock like Tangerine Dream to the Fall, to silly sounds of cats purring. Talking Heads, London Grammar, The Slits, Ozzy Osbourne and really anything that takes our fancy across all genres.

How do you get your head in a creative space?

Making space for inspiration to enter is important. I have learned that you have to eliminate stresses as much as possible to be able to stay creative. There has to be a healthy balance of making and business time. When I get into creative ruts I procrastinate and procrastinate and know that it’s not “doing nothing.” It’s part of the process. Be soft with yourself! I’m still learning that the hard way. Take time to dream or do some ‘procrasti-working’ … do something useful but unrelated!



What’s your background in art and design?

I studied art in High school in Germany as a focal point of my baccalaureate. In London later on, after a few years break doing this and that, I did a pre-foundation and a foundation in college, half a BA (Hons) in Fashion Design, a BA (Hons) Graphic Design and finally some Illustration. I graduated in 2009 after six years first class honours from my degree.

Switching degrees wasn’t hard at all. I never finished my Fashion Degree as I knew then already that it was the wrong path for me. I have drawn all my life and made things, not excluding sewing, but I missed making images that came from the heart. Visuals that had to do with what I wanted to say. I thought it obscene to be asked to produce 500 sketches of jeans in one night. I love dressing up and appreciate well made and interesting looking clothes but come on!

Towards the end of my degree in Graphic Information Design I took a few modules in Illustration and there just re-confirmed my passion. I was in the right place and from then on never really stopped.

What do you find inspiring for your work?

Time to dream, conversations, people, feelings I experience, long walks and dreaming of places I can only imagine and that probably don’t exist.



What kind of source materials do you use in your work?

I have a stack of old national geographic and paper clippings as well as tons of nature books and the internet for image ideas and my own photographs from walks etc. Being careful to never take anything as it is but to always re-imagine, re-assemble things before using them as reference if they come from elsewhere.

Then of course I also have materials that I have made and scanned or found here and there over the years. I make archives of them digitally to re-use as I need them.

How long to you spend working on one piece or commission?

It really depends on the size of the commission. I’ve just completed an animation together with a director and a model maker and that took a few months of hard work to complete. Other things might be drawn and coloured in a day or two.

When I start a project most of the time I have a brief. A brief from a client or a personal goal. I hardly ever just doodle. I try and imagine the image before I start but often that doesn’t work completely. Most of the time an animal or person is the central part of it. Depending on the situation and story of the image a particular animal or animals will come to mind if I haven’t been asked to draw a specific one anyway. I then go through my books and the Internet and my archives and fish out poses and expressions I like. Sometimes I find the perfect one but often I puzzle them together.
I create the creature first and while I’m drawing with pens and pencils and sometimes ink, the landscape or setting will slowly begin to form in my head.

Once the animal is finished, scanned, edited and coloured I then place it roughly on a page and set out to compose the background. It can all take a long time. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes terribly busy in my imagery. I enjoy this part of play immensely. I use collected papers, painted texture and all sorts of things.



Top tips for students looking for a career as an illustrator

Just do it! Don’t think about your motives. If it’s bursting out of you put it on the paper. You will make sense of it slowly and this way you are already halfway there. Nothing is going to happen if you hesitate and chew your nails. Do it for the love of it and of course make your living with it but don’t do it to make a living! It’s a hell of a lot of hard work and a real craft and you will just get better and better by doing it.

What do you like about our new Line Painter pens?

I really love how bright these Derwent Graphik Pens are!
I don’t often use coloured pens but as soon as I tried these I was won over. I don’t think I have had pens like these before.

They are just like very concentrated paint that I can now use in fine lines. Wonderful really. I can still get textures and detail down on paper despite the thick colour. I particularly enjoyed how quickly one colour dries and then can be worked over with another colour and how I can apply them on top of other materials like acrylic paint for example.



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